Finding Grace in Hard Things

The biggest challenge I’ve ever faced was my first teaching job right out of college. First of all, I was 19 years old. Second of all, I got a job teaching in an inner city school in downtown Indianapolis. Not only was it an inner city school, but it was essentially the district’s last stop before alternative school. We would receive a daily list of students who had gotten an alternative placement, and literally sometimes their alternative placement would say “prison.” As soon as one was gone, another one would take its place.

I have a lot of difficult memories from teaching there. Almost 100% of the time, it was utter chaos. I spent the majority of class time just trying to get kids to stay in the classroom. Some days looked like pulling the fire alarm because they set something on fire in my room, or having to be escorted to the parking lot because a student was threatening to shoot me. Other days looked like not being able to perform in the auditorium because someone had gone in there and set off fire extinguishers. Just chaos.

However, I have some of the most dear and precious memories from teaching my high school choir there. I loved those kids with all my heart, and getting to sing with them every day brought me so much joy. They made every other bad thing during the day worth it.

What I found through this incredibly hard season of life is that often God draws near to us during the worst moments. Sometimes God chooses not to remove us from hard circumstances, but to love and protect us through them. Like Joni Eareckson Tada once said, “God chose not to heal me, but to hold me.” Joyful times are wonderful; we all want to be happy and healthy, and not struggle with the problems of this earthly life. But, there is something so sweet about sorrow, because we seem to see God’s love and comfort so clearly during those times. God truly speaks through his word when my heart is weak to bring ease to my mind about his goodness and sovereignty in all situations.

Also, like the great hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” states, “the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.” Sometimes God uses the most difficult situations in our lives to bring about something greater for us or for his kingdom that we can’t even imagine. I can think of many situations in my life that I can look back on now, and say, “oh, that’s why that had to happen.” There are still many others that remain a mystery to me. But yet, the Lord is weaving a majestic tapestry for our lives. We will not see the full picture until his work is completed in us, but I am confident that, in heaven, he will make it all clear to us. In the meantime, it is so comforting to know that the Lord has a perfect purpose for every circumstance and season in our lives. We can control very little, except our choices to respond and intentionally pursue Christlikeness daily. It is such a relief to know that we cannot control our circumstances, but that a God who sees every facet of our lives is orchestrating everything perfectly for his glory and our joy. Praise God, from whom both blessings and challenges flow! May we see his goodness in it all.

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