We all have them, seasons we would rather avoid, that cause us to lose focus and drain our joy. Still, rough patches are a part of being alive. They make up the texture of our lives and going through them can make us stronger in the process.
The past year was such a season in our lives. Unexpected challenges arose in a steady stream, sometimes coming in multiples. As each one neared its end, I found myself believing, hoping, that the season was over, yet there was still more to come. Many important things, including my writing and this blog, were shelved as my energy and attention were focused on what was happening in our lives.
There were difficulties, but there were also numerous blessings. We were reminded again and again that God had his hand upon us, and that we would make it though. I needed several reminders from my wife along the way that our track record of coming through our difficulties with God’s help was one hundred percent. Even so, keeping close to God was challenging at times, and my own relationship with God suffered at some points. I knew that God was the Strong Tower I was meant to run to and be saved, but exhaustion from what felt like perpetually treading water, and my fears about the future, often weakened my spiritual resolve, and my spiritual disciplines occasionally suffered.
Recently, God reminded me of his faithfulness in the past, and I drew strength and resolve from those victories. I realized that my focus was off and I needed to make an adjustment. Just as my annual eye exam often yields a new set of glasses so I can see clearly, I needed the Holy Spirit to assess and adjust my spiritual lens to sharpen that focus as well. I could not sacrifice what was most meaningful and necessary because I was busy, fearful, and tired. In fact, those very realities mean that I needed even greater focus on what mattered most.
Jesus never sugarcoated our reality. In John 16:33, he says it succinctly and clearly, “In this life you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” These were words I needed to hear and apply to my life. Troubles would be a part of life, but my focus was never meant to be on the difficulties, but on the One who overcame the world, so that I could overcome by obstacles. My focus was meant to be on Christ, and Christ alone.
All this, brings me to today. There are still battles to be fought, fears to subdue, and victories to be won. A season of rest may be on the horizon, or the stream of challenges may still continue. Either way, my focus is on the One who will lead me through. It is time to write and blog again. It is time to laugh and savor life. It is time I am given to be with God, and to become who God is making me to be.
Thank you for your patience as I wandered through my desert. I look forward to our continued conversation here at the cafe. I pray that, if you are going through your own challenging seasons, you will focus on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Don’t let another day go by, trading your joy for worry, or exchanging your peace for confusion. Give your attention to the One who overcame for your sake, and who makes you to be an overcomer in every circumstance!