I’m in a ladies Bible study for Thriving Despite Difficult Circumstances. As we women grow closer to God in the daily-ness of difficult life we are vulnerable with each other. We allow time for everyone to tell their story about the path God has brought them on to the present moment. Do you know what I have found? Honestly opening up about our imperfections, brokenness or heartache is refreshing to other women who are in need. I have visibly seen the wall of self-protection come down as these sweet women pour out their heart and are comforted in their vulnerability. It is a beautiful sight because I know God is working. We have invited him to do so! It is ALL about Him, not about our circumstances.
We have made our study a safe and trusting environment where we know what we share will not be repeated outside the group. We listen, we encourage and we pray for each other. We don’t say, “Oh, it will get better” or “Don’t dwell on it so much” or “God is in control.” These things we know. If someone asks for advice we will give it and we will speak the truth in love when necessary but we exist to allow God to do His work then we simply join Him.
We share real needs. Often times they are deep and they are serious. Everyone’s hearts can hurt. They may hurt for different reasons but the pain is real, it is deep and at the moment you can feel like you are the only one who has ever endured this exact problem. We simply want to love on each other by putting an arm around the person next to us and praying for a sister’s unique need. We keep track of the prayer requests and we thoroughly enjoy boasting in God for the answers He gives and we continue to petition for the answers on which we wait.
I must add that these open, honest, caring, prayerful and trusting relationships happened with women who had never known each other before the inception of the group. Oh, the love of Christ!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
At last night’s study one of the women was encouraging another through words she had heard on a Joni Eareckson Tada YouTube video. I love the sweetness in our group. Even between our every other week of being together they are praying for each other and thinking of ways to encourage each other and meet each other’s practical needs. Life changing compassion.
Watching Joni Eareckson Tada’s video reminded me of the wonderful life in which I am privileged to participate. Joni is a woman who has thrived despite difficult circumstances beyond anything I could ever imagine as a Christian American living in a free country. Joni is a quadriplegic who suffers severe chronic pain and is a survivor of stage 3 breast cancer. She knows ‘difficult’.
Do any of the following topics hit close to home for you, are they ringing your door bell or are they smack in the middle of your living room?
“Life can be horrible and beautiful at the same time.”
“The weaker I was, the harder I leaned on You (Jesus), and the harder I leaned on You the stronger I discovered You to be.”
“I knew the scriptures in James 1: Welcome this trial as a friend. Romans 5: Rejoice in this suffering. Philippians 1: This has been granted to me to suffer for Christ. Acts 14: You will go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
“Are you trying desperately to find all the puzzle pieces to your life so your life will make some sense? So the circumstance will make sense?”
“I can’t do this thing called life. My puzzle pieces aren’t fitting together.”
“When suffering hits us hard—when your heart is wrung out like a sponge; you don’t stop the bleeding with answers.”
“You don’t stop bleeding with answers.” This is where listening, loving, praying and compassion come in. This is what I treasure about my Grace Group: Thriving Despite Difficult Circumstances. Their hearts are for God first and others second.
Grab your Kleenex and allow God to grow your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Also, if you like the “Life is Hard. God is Good” quote at the top of this page; you may purchase super cute T-shirts printed with the quote under “Products” in the right side margin. A friend of mine sells these on her blog/Facebook page. The shirts are $20. Part of the cost of the shirt goes to one of several nonprofit ministries that help people when times are hard. She has different prints including a great new Christmas logo.