(By Rachel Joyce)
On January 1, 2016, this rose was blooming in our backyard. I took it as a special reminder from God for the New Year, that by His grace, He would enable me to continue to bloom for Him, despite whatever difficult circumstances He allowed in my life. He had already helped me survive many years of chronic pain and physical limitations. As 2019 draws to a close, I can look back on God’s faithfulness throughout all the trials of my life so far.
When I was laid flat by yet another flare up and the intensity of the pain took my breath away, when the thought of living through more years of this was more than I could bear, He was there. His love surrounded me and His strong arm held me safely, even when I didn’t feel it. I, like the psalmist, was “overwhelmed with longing for his [God’s] help” and there were times that I just couldn’t understand how He could allow such suffering in my life (Ps 77:3). I’ve noticed over and over in the book of Psalms how the psalmist openly expressed the grief of his heart to God. He confessed, “I am too distressed even to pray” (Ps 77:4). King David, the mighty man of war, declared “Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking” (Ps 55:5). He poured the agony of His heart out before God, "I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh. My heart beats wildly, my strength fails” (Ps 38:6, 8-10). Crushed. Have you been there—heartsore and spent, barely able to go on?
Jesus understands; not just because He’s God and He understands all things. He knows because He endured it, too. In the garden of Gethsemane, just before He went to the cross, “He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and He became anguished and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’” (Mat 26:37-38). Luke records, “He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Jesus knows what it is to be crushed with grief. He knows the agony of heart. He chose to endure it, He embraced the cross so that we would never suffer alone. By faith in His sacrificial death for us, we are brought into His family and forever belong to Him (John 3:7,16; 1 John 3:1-2). He has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We never suffer alone.
Regardless of the trial that we may be going through, we can endure and bring glory to God. We can share His love and can beautify the lives of those around us as we allow Him to work His perfect work within us. Like my New Year’s rose, we can bloom despite bitter cold and biting snow. Any blooming that we do is only because He is in us, loving, strengthening, and helping us. We are so blessed to belong to Him! We have an awesome God who deserves all our praise!