Take Heart

Tribulation: 1. grievous trouble; severe trial or suffering. 2. an instance of this; an affliction, trouble, etc.

Synonyms: 1.  affliction, hardship, distress, adversity.

Jesus has always been very forthright about the fact that as a Christian I will face trials. "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me," He cautions those who want to follow Him. If Jesus' path headed straight to the cross, why shouldn't mine? And Paul also echos this thought in Acts, when he writes, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

Thus far, my life as an American Christian has been pretty comfortable. Besides the painful tear in family relationships and a brief financial testing of unemployment, it's not been filled with overwhelming trials. I'm not trying to discredit the pain that has accompanied these circumstances I've experienced. But when I consider my brothers and sisters in many other countries, who suffer daily for the status as "Christian," they can't help but pale in comparison.

Even though it's currently unlikely I'll suffer direct persecution for my faith in the U.S. the Bible doesn't say that's the only form of trouble I'll encounter. But that's usually what comes to my mind when I read about "tribulation" in the Bible. Jesus told his disciples "In the world you will have tribulation." And so will I, whether job loss, cancer, or family break-up.

Yet, I've noticed that we as Americans often find ourselves surprised by tribulation. Maybe we think we're guaranteed the "American Dream" by God or something. When encountering a trial I instead often find myself questioning God's goodness. I wonder if I'm undergoing cosmic punishment. I seek escape as soon as possible. Perhaps I'm even been tempted to discard my faith, becoming bitter towards God, and seek only whatever makes me happy.

But what was it that I "signed" on for when I said "yes" to God? Wasn't it to daily pick up my cross, whatever shape my cross may come in?

Perhaps I've even subconsciously embraced the Prosperity Gospel and believe obedience to God = blessing. And I usually define blessings as material possessions and pleasant circumstances. Not spiritual growth.

The truth is--Christian or not--trouble exists in the world. And I can go through that trouble with or without God's help. I need to expect to experience suffering in my life. Not in some morbid doom and gloom way. No. But simply take Jesus at his Word. I will experience tribulation. And God--not me--will determine what that tribulation will look like.

Just after Jesus promises the disciples tribulation, He holds out the promise of Hope. The promise of the Gospel. The promise of Resurrection. "But take heart; I have overcome the world," He tells not only the disciples, but also me.  Elisabeth Elliot reminds me that despite the fact that sometimes our “difficulties often appear to be random. Our tragedies look wildly uncontrolled. They are not. They are subject. Limits are set. God is quietly at work, standing in the shadows, ceaselessly watching over His children.” And so I can take heart knowing I have hope at my disposal. And also peace.

"In me you may have peace," Jesus says, just a few hours before going to the cross. I can have peace because Christ has overcome the world. All the ugly, sick, vile, abusive, murderous things that exist in the world and my own heart have already been put to death at the cross. No matter what this world holds for me, I can to take heart. I can have peace.

In the midst of loss. In the midst of tribulation. God is enough.

Jesus has overcome it all, and will help me--and you--overcome it too.

Take heart.

Four | Multitude Monday

261. Fabulous weather, and I mean FABULOUS!

262. Finally developing a consistent routine for book proposal research.

263. Finally doing research for the one thing I've always wanted to do--write a book. Nothing may come of it, but I have to do what I need to do.

264. Josh. Sweet, caring, and loving. So glad he's my best friend!

265. The hole in our floor that's been there for 6 years--repaired!

266. Getting some flowerbeds weeded.

267. My boba for Sophia.

268. Iced coffee.

269. Growth Group last week with wonderful and wise women. Thankful for their prayers and practical encouragement. So thankful for the ministry of the Word through conversation.

270. The beauty of green pears in a cobalt blue bowl.

271. Sophia's constipation finally gone!

272. Taking the boys' to "meet" Diego. Their favorite show second to Wild Kratts. The fun of getting free balloons, bubbles, animal masks and other fun stuff.

273. Spending the evening at the driving range and playing putt putt together in honor of the boys' fourth birthday.

274. A fun trip to a bouncy place, gifts, pizza, cake and ice cream, plus a family movie night, all in celebration of my boys turning 4 years old!

275. That Duncan and Owen arrived four years ago today. That they continue to grow strong and healthy. That they are full of exuberance and joy. That they're creative, curious, and yes, even that they love living on the edge. They're my favorite little men. I really can't believe their baby days are over. And the toddler days too. Their tall and lean preschoolers!

276. First batch of swiss chard from our garden, sautéed with bacon and shallots, thanks to the recommendation of a blog friend.

277. That the two people who stole our neighbor's flat screen TV and computer were apprehended yesterday.

278. That our hardwood floors are getting refinished this week. I am beyond excited! It's going to be a long week and lots of work, but I know it will be worth it in the end.

Spring Joys | Multitude Monday

It feels like spring has finally come! Thankful for . . .

239. Blowing bubbles in the backyard.

240. Lilacs blooming.

241. The boys bringing me flower bouquets from the yard.

242. A newly cleaned/organized desk area.

243. Crayola markers/crayons for windows on a rainy day.

245. Eating lunches and dinners out on the deck again.

246. A fun day with the kids shopping at Target and then going for a picnic at the playground and feeding the ducks.

247. Watching The King's Speech. Fabulous acting, wonderful cinematography, engaging story. Can't see a film much better than this!

248. Going to the driving range as a family.

249. French martinis.

250. Our first seasonal "supper club," where I had one of the best steaks ever.

251. After a long week of a yucky head cold, I'm finally feeling better.

252. Good dental reports from the boys' visit to the dentist.

253. A new novel.

254. A night out at P. F. Chang catching up with one of my best friends.

255. A lovely Mother's Day brunch with my mom and mother-in-law.

256. A Flip so I can now take video of the kiddos. My Mother's Day gift.

258. Time to go to the knitting store and the library . . . by myself.

259. After days of rain, sunshine!

260. The privilege of being the mother to three wonderful sweeties.

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The Driving Range

As many of my longtime readers will know, my boys like golf. Ever since they were babes.

They got new "real" golf clubs from my friend Jessica, which has taken their golf game to the next level.

So Josh thought it was high time they visited the driving range.

And they acted like they'd been golfing at the driving range for years.

It was the perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

We did make a scene when Duncan started to run out onto the green to get his ball and we started shouting (and Owen was screaming) for him to come back. Obviously, we hadn't made it clear enough that you don't go out and retrieve you own golf balls. Thankfully, he wasn't hit by a golf ball whizzing through the air!

All in all, the visit was a success and we'll definitely go back for more fun times at the driving range.