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Journal Two: Thoughts and Writing

Trials and a Beautiful Song

 

Trials and a Beautiful Song

Story time.

      Eight months ago, I was approached by a person I had never met before at a worship night in Tauranga, New Zealand. I was a couple of months into my Discipleship Training School (DTS) with YWAM Bethlehem. For those who aren't familiar with DTS...it is essentially 5 months of metaphorical open heart surgery with the goal of "knowing God and making Him known". I went to New Zealand to do a DTS because I knew there had to be more to God than forced smiles at church and hymns I had sung half my life out of ritual. Let's be real, half-assed, lukewarm Christianity is the most miserable place to be. Ever. Everything inside of me was telling me there just had to be more. So I went. I went wanting all of my questions of God to be answered, and let's just say I left with a thousand more questions than I arrived with. Every box I ever had on God was completely wrecked and I simply can't look at life through the same "lens" as I used to (photographer puns amen). But I'll talk about that more in depth another time. Back to that night...Sophia (who is now a dear friend of mine and who's photograph is featured above this) and her husband, Niklas, were on staff at the base and had just returned from two months of leading a team to Nepal.

      After warmly giving me a smile and asking if my name was "Sarah" she handed me a small envelope with my name on it.

       I don't know if tears are ever a good first impression but in this case I didn't have a choice. The letter was from a friend from my home town here in New Brunswick. I hadn't seen her in months as she has been serving as a long term missionary in Nepal. Somehow their ministries had intersected and she gathered together that Sophia's team was from the base I was at in New Zealand at the time (there are hundreds of YWAM bases all over the world).

        The rest of the details aside, this letter was so powerful to me, and last night, I was thinking of this friend who is still somewhere in Nepal, the specific location unknown to me, and re-read her letter. I thought I would share a small exerpt as it encouraged me greatly (and kept me awake in thought until 2:45 am).

        "There is a beautiful song that arises out of difficult seasons. You get to touch a part of the Father's heart in painful seasons that you would never reach if you stayed comfortable. He longs for deeper intimacy with you and often that intimacy comes from these times. You are on a grand adventure with the greatest storyteller of all time."

         If there is one thing you should know about me, it's that I'm a complete and utter mess only held together by the grace of God. I've struggled nearly my entire life to see myself as worthy. Of anything really. My identity has been twisted and scarred by years of searching in the wrong places to find it. As a young girl and in the naivety of my youth, I was blinded by the media and became obsessed with this depthless pursuit of perfection that spiralled into a battle with anorexia. I was twelve years old. That is a story for another time and maybe someday I'll find the courage to share it more openly, but for now, all you need to know is that it was the root of years of self-hatred, pain, and isolation. Years of lies I spoke over myself that I am still working through. And although I have come a long, long way, I am still on this journey. I'm still stuck in a cocoon, growing, but I know my wings have not spread quite yet. In truth, I was not without hardship the day I began my journey with the Lord, and I'm not without hardship today. But in the midst of it, I am free. I believe it, and I know it. I have nothing to fear, nothing to resist, nothing should have the power to paralyze me as it once did. 

        I used to get so frustrated with God and fall into a fit of complaining. "Why did I have to deal with this?" "Why me?" "Why didn't people know how to save me from it?" "Why didn't You save me from it?" And of course, there is always that question that comes up at some point in matters of faith and a Divine Power, "If there is a God, then why doesn't He stop horrible things from happening?" 

       Well, there are questions that hold a mystery I'm not so sure we will be able to fully unmask in this life, but if there is one thing I know to be true in the character and heart of the God I love, it's that He is not capable of letting things get beyond a point He can't redeem for His glory and to draw us closer to His heart. There are countless examples of this through out the entirety of the Bible and my own life is a testimony to this. 

       In a soft and gentle way, the Lord has been teaching me that there is a blessing in the trial. I have known a deeper joy in times it doesn't even make sense to lift my head because it's in those times of weakness that I can begin to grasp just how faithful Jesus is and how hope in Him is never failing. It continually restores my faith to keep persevering. Faith building faith. Over and over and over again as fear and anger crumble at my feet.

       I could write pages on this very topic, but I think I will leave you with this encouragement. Don't despise the process of working through hard times, for they will come, and sometimes they will last weeks, years. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do or how flawless your life looks on Instagram, they will find you. We spend so much of our lives building a false sense of security in the number of zeros on our pay checks and our relationships and our status, but none of us, will escape trouble. We all face it. Some on degrees that don't feel comparable to others. But I think there is a grace in embracing the lessons learned in hardship. When we earnestly seek the Lord in these times we discover His promises are true and that we can do all things in Him. I've experienced this truth in my life, and I will never be the same because of it.

-S

sarah kierstead