Our children sat at the other end of the table, giggling as teenagers do, oblivious to the seriousness of our conversation. As my girlfriends and I bowed down to pray, it didn’t matter that we were in a busy restaurant at lunchtime. My friends had spent the past couple of hours sharing their burdens, seeking advice and wisdom, and we knew that only God could truly give them direction, help and meaning to their valley.
As I prayed for each of them, it dawned on me — I was once more able to share my story with someone and bring insight and hope to their circumstances. I couldn’t help but feel a surge of thankfulness in my heart. Once again, I found meaning and purpose for the trial I faced years ago.
If we were to be truthful about our prayer lives, I believe most of us would agree that it is mostly centered on our needs, or the needs of those we love. As people of faith, it is only natural that we cry out to God for help in times of trouble. We should do so, indeed. However, when the answer doesn’t come, or when tragedy seems to become the ultimate answer, we find ourselves questioning the truthfulness about God’s unfailing goodness, mercy and love.
In the midst of our storm, as our prayers go unanswered and troubles weigh us down, God’s voice seems to be silent. His love, cold. We shake our heads in disbelief, as we watch the innocent die, or disease take over faithful, godly people.
“Why, God? Why?” we ask.
I’m here to offer a different perspective today. What if we changed the grid by which we sift our lives? What if we were able to distance ourselves from the small sphere of our current reality, and were able to sift our circumstance through the grid of eternity and God’s plan for the people we encounter throughout life’s journey? What if our temporary affliction is indeed producing for us an eternal fruit that far outweighs our troubles today?
What if you could look into your future and realize that, just as it happened to me this week, you will one day be able to strengthen, uplift, equip and encourage someone, just because they will face what you are facing today? In other words, what if your trial is absolutely, undoubtedly, not about you?
It’s a true and proven fact that the best mentors are those who have journeyed through the roads less traveled. People of effective influence are those who face tough challenges and burdens, pressing on through their hardest circumstances, limping through each obstacle in order to cross the finish line. This realization doesn’t change the nature and hardship of our problems, but it can certainly bring perspective and change how we pray. Because if we say that we truly trust God and want him to use us to further his kingdom, then it would do us good to accept the burdens he places in our hands, understanding that they are but tools used to sharpen us and make us the person he chose to fulfill a specific role in his master plan.
Whether our sphere of influence will be limited to the people that live under our roof, or our voices are destined to be heard in the four corners of the world, there is a purpose for each dark valley we cross. As one standing on the other side of many trials, witnessing the countless times I’ve been able to reach out and touch someone’s life because of the lessons learned in each valley, I realize: It was never about me, anyway.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author and national conference speaker. Her book, “Twelve Inches: Bridging the Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel,” is available on Kindle, at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and other retailers. Visit her website at www.soaringwithhim.com Email: pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com