"We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul- not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bring and beautiful that he has for us." (Colossians 1:11-12, The Message)
As I've shared here before, I read those verses for the first time while sitting on a hospital bed, waiting to go in for surgery.
When I read those verses I had no idea how much I would hold on to them and see truth revealed over and over again. The only thing I knew at the time is that it was very significant and God was most definitely speaking to me through it. What He was saying, I wasn't sure then.
Two and a half years later, those verses are still speaking.
They spoke to me after the surgery when the pain was so intense that I counted down every minute to my next dose of morphine.
They spoke to me when my body was filled with infection from that surgery and I was so sicker than I've ever been in my life.
They spoke to me during my six month recovery, through many re-infections and the process of building up my strength.
They spoke to me when less than a month after I was healed from that ordeal I was told that I might have to go through it all again.
They spoke to me when I was healed of that cyst and would no longer require yet another surgery.
They spoke to me when my energy started draining, my joints started hurting and sleep became less frequent.
They spoke to me through a doctor's diagnoses and my struggle to accept what having sleep apnea really meant.
They spoke to me through over 365 nights and counting of darkness, praying for sleep when none would come.
They spoke to me through over 365 trying days and counting, attempting to function with the world when all I want to do was crawl into bed and stay there.
They spoke to me through many "I don't know" diagnoses and attempts to figure out what was wrong.
They spoke to me in the gut-wrenching situation I'm working through. Losing someone I love dearly, who is techically still here, but emotionally so far away.
They speak to me now at 2:30 am while the world sleeps and I keep glancing at the clock, exhausted, but unable to shut down. Still having no answers as to what is going on and what I can do to make it better.
So what do those verses say? They say a lot.
They say that God gives us strength beyond our wildest imagination. And He doesn't do it all at once. Just when we think we're running low and can't make it any farther, He fills us up to press on.
They say that joy comes even in the midst of sadness. That light can still be found in the darkest night. And that His peace is never far away.
And they say that God sees beauty in our pain. Like the master painter, He's shaping our life canvas one brush stroke at a time. Sometimes the places He paints or the colors He uses don't make sense to us, but He sees the whole picture. And one day we too will see that beautiful creation called our life story.
Until that day comes, I've choosen to hold onto those verses and trust this great artist who I've come to know as my best friend. And as the years go by, I know more than ever that He is worthy of my trust.