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. Romans 8:28
There have been many times while going through a trial that I have felt like a needy burden to others. Lawrence and I have often found ourselves in need of others' help, particularly since the arrival of our children. At times, I can feel like the neediest among my peer group and wrestle with why that is the case. But, today as my friend, Heather, took my boys for a little while from me for oh, the 100th + time, I was able to get a Godward perspective on it instead of my typical self focused perspective.
I thought of the kindness of God that my boys have so many "2nd momma's" and other places that feel so much like home for them. I saw the kindness of God to give my children so many opportunities to see how other godly homes function, how other godly parents treat their children, reinforcing to them the approach we are aiming to take in raising them to know and love God. I saw the kindness of God in giving them friends who are becoming more like brothers and sisters to them because they end up having to spend so much time with them due to all our "trials" that have created those opportunities.
And, then God kindly began to show me just a glimpse of His good purposes in this most recent affliction: my being put out of commission from back pain for nearly a week. My husband has been on full parent duty and then some. I can choose to give into the temptation to feel guilty about making him bear the full load of our responsibilities as parents or I can choose to believe that God is at work in his life, too...perhaps growing him in empathy for the load I bear as a wife and mother. Perhaps, God is helping Lawrence grow in God dependence vs. self sufficiency.
What about all those folks who have cared for my children or made us a meal? I can feel a sense of indebtedness to them, or I can choose to believe that God is working for their good as well, perhaps growing them in generous giving or self sacrifice for the good of another or maybe just giving them an opportunity to store up one more treasure in Heaven by providing for the needs of a needy family!
Lastly, I have been tempted in the midst of our trials to think I have no evangelistic impact because of how much we seem to be inward focused, sometimes out of necessity, due to the various trials He's taken/taking us through. Again, God graciously reminded me that He is more committed to advancing His kingdom than I am. I can trust that He is working out His perfect plan for His redeemed, the ones that are already and the ones that have yet to be so. I may not often be able to engage in lengthy, spiritual conversations with my neighbors because I'm chasing three kids around or invite folks to church that often because it's hit or miss whether we make it ourselves with how often the kids are sick. I may not be able to frequent a local "third place" because of budget constraints, but I know that God is able to use our circumstances for His glory and to advance His kingdom.
He just may be doing it in a more silent way: by the observations others make of how we are handling our trials...they may see the grace my son receives during his laser treatments or the steady flow of foot traffic through our door lately, people bringing meals and taking our children for us. They see my husband making sacrifices in his career advancement for the sake of caring for his wife and family. This runs so counter to our culture, and I pray is a strong witness for the power of the Gospel in our lives. For truly, it is only the power of God's redeeming love in our lives that allows us to have any impact at all.
I know I do not see all the good that God is doing in my life or in others' lives through trials and suffering simply because I am finite and my mind could not possibly comprehend all the good He is about. But, I am learning to be guided by this scripture found in Proverbs 3:5-7a:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes...
If I choose not to be wise in my own eyes, but rather trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding of things, I begin to see all (or at least a part) of the good God might be bringing about through my trials and sufferings.