Cultivating Peace

When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow…
–James 1:2-4
He didn’t have to but he did, answering a prayer long hoped for, bending down to become small, lifting up in his greatness. It was through adversity that hope was born. Embracing loss, letting it cut deep until what bleeds out is pure and holy.
I don’t ever want to forget the pain because it reminds me of the healing. Recollecting and celebrating what once was fallow ground becoming whole and holy. This should give cause for great joy, again and again. 

“Joy emerges from the ashes of adversity through your trust and thankfulness” (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young).

Having endured the sorrows of the past, I can step forward into joy, accepting each challenge that comes my way through grace, with peace. But, when I get caught up in the snare of fear, instead of choosing to live in the victory already won, my feet trip on the path. I try to pull myself up in my own strength and plow ahead in my own power. Keeping my eyes on my feet I stumble, again and again falling into the trap of discouragement, worry, anger, and fear. These are familiar mechanisms I so blindly put on in place of joy and peace.

(Photo credit: Milada Vigerova/Unsplash)

Daily I pray that I may be worthy of the suffering of my past, that none of it would be in vain, offering it up for God’s purposes. In the book of 1 Samuel, Hannah was both barren and favored. She could not produce a child for her husband and yet he treated her with grace. When the day of sacrifice came, 

…to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb (1 Samuel 1:5).

The Lord has given me grace upon grace, for he has made me his portion and he has filled me. When grief was poured out through tears upon the alter, he gave a double portion for me. So, when our little miracle was born, it was in response that we took her to church to be dedicated back to the Lord, following the model of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:10-11.
Yet without pretense, I confess that the everyday mothering of this gifted child has not been the portraiture of a saintly scene, babe to breast, halo on the brow, sun beams streaming through sacred panes. But it has been this, every day: Humbling. It has been all of these: Tedious. Monotonous. Lonely. Bothersome. Frightful. Nonsensical. Exhausting. And more… But more than any of these, motherhood has proved itself an opportunity to humbly enter into the sacred.

Humble yourself under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up. Cast all your cares upon him for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Don’t think that for a moment I haven’t been both treacherously appalled by the enormity of the task of raising a child and gratuitously in love with the holy honor of being a mother.
It is grace. I don’t deserve this glorious gift–and I scarcely should be allowed to do it.
When a crying infant startled me awake at an ungodly hour and I wanted nothing more than to put the pillow over my head and go back to sleep. When a writhing toddler bellows and stamps her feet in the storm of a tantrum. When the pressure mounts and I bark orders about how to put clothes on and “Can’t you do this by now? We’re late!” The stained glass shatters in unholy wreckage upon my pristine cathedral floor.
These walls I’ve built around my piety, archways leading into holy chambers, and pillars erected to great heights of splendor, such grandiose ideals and righteous expectations for myself – for my child. So when it all comes crashing down in a moment, I am left gazing upon the rubble of brokenness that proves that I am only human. Sin scarring my heart and leaving me breathless.
This becomes the prayer of the righteous – the undeserved sinner-saint – a mother’s prayer. Jesus, help. I need You right now, because I can’t do this. I cannot strive, control, or cajole any longer. It does me no good. Take this child. Use her for your purposes. Don’t let me get in the way of who you intend for her to be. Make her life a fragrant offering that brings glory to your name. Help her to follow you all the days of her life, to stand up in her generation for Truth. That she may shine like a star in the universe – in a generation that stands for nothing – that she might stand for Christ.
The full weight of glory presses upon my shoulders and I am grounded and humbled, brought low by the gravity of this honor. God the Father, the Perfect Parent, answers with wisdom, which he so freely gives, instructing this homemaker to become a peacemaker. 

But the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. 
– James 3:17-18

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