Spring Up

"Why, God?" is a common question that has been perplexing humans for ages. Our finite minds have trouble comprehending the ways of an infinite God. This year I decided to choose a theme word and corresponding scripture to pray and focus on. Well, we're 3 months in and I certainly have had to "surrender" and trust "that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). We live in a broken, sinful world that is full of hardships and letdowns. It's up to us to decide how we are going to handle suffering. We must endure and to endure is not simply to exist; it's to exist in the same manner as before the suffering began. 

I'm currently going through a difficult time and the Lord is showing me that while suffering is hard, it's not all bad. It's often in times of hardship that we cling more tightly to Jesus and have to trust in his sovereignty in the midst of pain. Here are 3 things I've learned about suffering:

1. Suffering builds character

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 
-Romans 5:3-5

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 
-James 1:2-4

2. Suffering grants us power even when we are weak

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 
-2 Corinthians 12:7-9

3. Suffering makes us more like Jesus

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 
-Hebrews 5:8

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 
-James 1:12

I'm not sure where the myth that life is supposed to be easy came from, but it is rampant in our culture today. All throughout God's word, we see examples of men and women who suffered and endured extreme hardships. The book of Job is probably the most well known when it comes to suffering but take a look at Joseph (Genesis 37-50), David (1&2 SamuelPsalms), the disciples (Matthew-Acts) and most importantly, Jesus (The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). These are just a few examples but the Bible also explicitly says in John 16:33, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation." Thankfully the verse doesn't end there. The last part of this verse is the key to suffering because no matter how bad things may seem, God is greater.

But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Similar to how difficult it is to endure suffering, it can be challenging to dress for spring when the weather is still chilly. A great way to do this is to bring in bright colors. I typically would pair this orange crop sweater with a white blouse, but instead I chose coral which adds a fun mix of spring colors to an otherwise wintery outfit. Tan leather accessories are another way to begin the transition into spring. I also really love the way these J. Crew earrings add a hint of blue to the mix and compliment my Philip Stein watch.

Photography by Justin James
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