For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
I imagine that we all know what it is like to go through a season where things are especially hard. You may feel like that has been the last 15 years of your life. As it wears on and you still miss your mom, or the rain just keeps coming, or the heat continues to be awful, or your baby continues to be teething, or you continue to not go into labor, or your house continues to not be remodeled, or you continue to struggle with patience, or your old friends continue to avoid you, or your health continues to be a problem. Sometimes the problem is the weight of blessings – the fact that having a bunch of little children is simply not easy, although you once thought it would be.
One of our temptations in times like this is to start leaning away from the hardship. We want to not think about it, not look at it, not talk about it – just hold our breath and hope that the wave of tired will roll over us eventually and then we will breathe again. We want to start praying things like, “Lord make this day easy. Let the baby be more mellow today. Make my friends like me again. Take this away.” While there is certainly nothing wrong with asking God to remove trials from your life, something occurred to me the other day about this, and I realized that I needed to look at it differently.
If you went to a personal trainer and asked them to get you into the best shape of your life, you would expect that there would be some pain. But if you are really serious about it and committed to the result, you lean into that pain. You do not show up on day two saying, “I’m thinking today we should just eat quiche instead. This was all a very bad idea!”
So this is what struck me the other day. I do not want to be praying that God would make everything easy. I want to be praying that God will make me strong. I know that He has a plan. I know that He has the grace we need to finish the hard things in a way that honors Him. The problem is that often we are comfortable in our spiritually soft bodies. We would like to sit around in our bad attitude sweatpants eating the Cheetos of selfishness. But God is calling us to more, and sometimes that call brings us to our knees to ask Him to be quiet.
So here is the challenge – let’s pray that God would pour out His grace and energy on us, that He would equip us for the day that will be hard. That He will continue to push us and that we will continue to come to Him, not asking Him to stop, but asking Him for the grace to finish. We want to lean into the refining fire – because we want for all the dross to be burned out. Lean into the fire of God. Trust His purpose for you.
We want to be bought into the vision that God has for us. We want to look at our teething babies and our disobedient toddlers and our messy house and say, “Thank you God – I feel it burning, I know it is working. “
34 thoughts on “July 19: Leaning In”
When training for races gets hard I think to myself, “This is where it’s suppose to be hard. This is where the work happens.” I think the same things when leaving the parking lot of a store we never went into because my children’s behavior was so bad before even getting out of the car. This is where we get purified by fire, it’s going to hurt.
Thanks for sharing.
Oh this is WONDERFUL! I especially love this: “We would like to sit around in our bad attitude sweatpants eating the Cheetos of selfishness”. Oh please Lord, make me STRONG. Let me build bible biceps, quads of quietness, gluts of gentleness, abs of obedience.
Cheetos of selfishness!!!!!
I love this! And I have lived this out, too, and it is so true. Thank you for sharing. I’ll have to save this for reading on a hard day.
It’s the Reese cups of selfishness around here.
Thanks. Reminds me of the hymn by Love Maria Willis, 1864:
Father, hear the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength, that we may ever
live our lives courageously.
Not for ever in green pastures
do we ask our way to be ;
but the steep and rugged pathway
may we tread rejoicingly.
Not forever by still waters
would we idly rest and stay;
but would smite the living fountains
from the rocks along our way.
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wanderings be our Guide;
through endeavor, failure, danger,
Savior, be thou at our side.
God’s timing is perfect. Thanks for this today Lord!
Bad attitude sweatpants!!
This reminds me of a book I was reading recently–Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains. I’m about to paraphrase, so forgive any oversimplification here. She writes that one week she prayed to the Lord to get her house cleaned. And for four days she went to bed with nothing done. Then she changed her prayer–“Let me be your servant today” and by 1:00pm the house was clean. I like this story not because of the seemingly magic-prayer, but because it emphasizes our heart attitude is way more important to God than anything else. And whatever is troubling us COULD be lifted, it’s in His power. But we need to trouble ourselves first with being his servant, leaning into his will, and trusting that whatever the result (clean house, no clean house) will be the best thing.
I don’t usually leave comments, but wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your writing style. You seem to have this wonderful knack for cutting right to the quick, while simultaneously putting a chuckle in my throat. Thank you for using your wisdom & wit to bless me, (and countless others!) over & over.
This is so wonderful and so timely! Thank you for taking the time to post 🙂
Hmmm. I was just thinking about this sort of thing today while I was running. Weather was hot and I felt like walking. Bless God for my parents who taught me to run five miles by the time I was five and ten miles by the time I was eight. Bless them for their unyielding practice routines that went on every fall-spring for years and for not letting me walk or stop even when I was crying. My mom told me the discipline would carry over into other parts of life. I did not understand how then, but I actually do now. The discipline of doing the same thing over and over whether you feel like it or not and whether it’s hailing or not prepared me not to walk out on my adult messy situations (that I helped make for myself). So I just realized that the parental discipline that looks like a meaningless exercise routine is actually grace that can be part of saving.
This is the encouragement I have been praying for…thank you!!
“We want to lean into the refining fire.” Thanks.
and this does not mean grit my teeth and bear it…right? right. So, till thy dark clouds break forth with blessings…whatesoever is right ,true and noble think on these things….
Rachel, thank you thank you thank you!
“Lean into it” is what my birth coach would say to me during labor. An effective parallel, I think.
You know what’s funny? Driving to church this morning I realized I was praying “Use me for Your glory Father, even if it hurts” (and was a bit scared by that prayer – like praying for patience!) and then this afternoon saw one of facebook friends link to this – just what I needed to finish up whatever the Spirit is doing in my heart today! Maybe the glory He’s looking for right now is me leaning in (there’s so much that I rather “lean away” from just now!)?
So, thank you for sharing. Thank you so much! <3
But I really LIKE those sweatpants!
Thanks for this. I find myself leaning away and complaining to God that “this is too hard for me!” all the time. I guess that’s not very wise.
I hopped over here from Visionary Womanhood. Thank you for sharing your insights and wise words. Yes, it is the heart that is at the root. God is Good. Even when life hurts. And, yes…we are being shaped by HIM to be fit for Heaven. What a thought! Blessings, Camille
YES. This is good. It reminds me of what Ann Voskamp says– “All is gift.” ALL. Not just the easy things. The hard things too. Because God uses the hard things to shape and mold us into the people he has created us to be. Let me not be afraid of pain and trials… and to thank God right through the storms.
Thank you for this!
What a blessing. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing! I have prayed many time recently to take care of the problems and struggles that my family is going through to no avail!! This helped me realize that I should be asking for strength to help me through this fire! As I lean in, God will guide me to the best steps to make to build, not only my strength during trials, but my trust in Him to know what is best! thank you again!
Hello ladies, I didn’t quite know where to put this comment but I just wanted to ask, how come the guys get a DW app and we don’t get a Femina one?!!!
This is a perfect post for me to read today. I just attended the funeral if my dearly loved Grandma, a woman of faith who truly “leaned in” for 94 years. Her life and this post are further encouragement to keep on going, because life is really hard right now.
Absolutely love this, reminded my of my favorite “motherhood verse.”
Hebrews 12: 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated[g] but healed instead.
Is there a way to subscribe to this blog/the posts so that they will come automatically to my email? Really enjoyed this
Wow, I really needed this today. Thank you!
Praying for the grace to “lean in”.
Thanks be to God for His merciful gifts, like the marvelous timing of you sharing your heart with us about this. Amen. Praying for strength to lean in and feel the burn.
Because you know our how our great God works, you won’t be shocked at all to know–after months of not really keeping up with your wonderful blog–I stopped in here today and found encouragement for my weary soul this afternoon as I go through a season of refinement. 🙂 thx
Thank you for this beautiful reminder! It is true, we love feeling good, and when things hurt, we are so quick to ask for that cup to be taken from us. We need to be reminded that the bitterness of life can only make the sweetness of life sweeter! May we each embrace the hardness of life as a refining fire and that we would come forth as gold!
I have come back to reading this probably three or four times since you posted, and I want to thank you for it. One day it was most certainly the disobedient toddlers, and me literally in my sweatpants wanting so badly to sit on the couch, eat chocolate, and stare stupidly into some mind-numbing screen. Your analogy was perfect…and helped immensely. This morning I am leaning into the fact that yesterday my three year old was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and even though it is mild, we are looking at a major change of lifestyle around here. Therapy twice a week, out of town specialists, our whole little family coming along for all of it because Grandma has lately been too sick to take care of any little ones. That, and feeling like any day now I am probably going to see two pink lines, a possibility that would have caused some major excitement not very long ago, but feels almost like a punch in the gut after sitting in a waiting room yesterday surrounded by severely disabled children…surrounded by parents who CANNOT wear the sweatpants or eat the cheetos because leaning in is just what they do, whether they want to or not. And it makes me wonder, can I lean into the unknown and trust God that completely? What if He hands me one of these children, and says, “Here, you can do it!” And I want to cry out, “No, I absolutely cannot!” and then, whoa–I remember, I already have one of these children. What if God had said to me, “Your first child will have cerebral palsy, and you will go to the ends of the Earth for her, you will fight like mad, and you will be better off for it.” I would have said God was crazy. I would have thought, life would be so much easier, so much better without this child.
I say all of this not because my story is so important, but of all the ways your post has spoken to me and reminded me of what God is doing with us when the times are difficult. It is so easy to feel that the loving God has forgotten us in our trials, but you’ve reminded me that He is right there, doing it all for our good. Thank you!!!!!!
I don’t typically comment but just wanted you to know that I seriously gain so much wisdom from every single one of your posts. This one was much needed. It moved me to tears as I stared into the eyes of my 8 month old boy who has been sick all week. “I feel it burning. I know it’s working.” I need to remember this!
Excellent advice, Rachel!