"God does not lead His children around hardship, but leads them straight through hardship. But He leads! And amidst the hardship, He is nearer to them than ever before." (Otto Dibelius)
With the Christmas season upon us, I know that it can be the most difficult time of year for some. While everyone around you is smiling and beaming with the joy of the season, all you feel is pain. I have been there. Does not matter what is causing the pain. A break-up, family conflict, new town, same ole town, loss of a loved one, bad report from the doctor... doesn't really matter what the cause, the pain can be suffocating.
A few years ago, I went through the most painful time in my life. I had recently found out that my husband of two years was having an affair with a woman (child) 12 years his younger. Even after I found out, it did not end. For reasons that I can only really understand now, I felt that I could not leave my marriage. I had to stay with my husband no matter how ugly or painful the relationship had become. By Christmastime, we were 7 months into this crazy cycle. While we were still living under the same roof, we were miles apart. I do not proclaim to be perfect. I was in physical, emotional and psychological pain each and every day. I lost over 30 lbs in a few short months. My friends and family were worried about me, and consistently encouraged me to walk away from my marriage. Something that would seem sensible and logical to most. But sense and logic were not my guides. It took my entire world falling apart to finally stop and follow the only True Guide. I could not clearly explain why I felt the Lord leading me in this way, but I knew it as well as I knew my name.
Time has dulled the pain. My husband and I are now completely reconciled and in a mentor counseling relationship with a godly older couple. But the pain of those long months where I could not see the path and could not feel His presence are still fresh on my mind. At this time of year, I am reminded of all that I have to be thankful for.
The quote above may seem simple and of little comfort at first glance. Take a deeper look. Allow your heart to feel the comfort therein. He, the Creator of all things... the great I AM... cares deeply about our pain. Even when we cannot feel Him, He is right there. We need only take a moment to stop and listen for His voice. Stretch out our hand in faith to grasp His sure grip. He will never fail us. He will never lead us astray. He will never take us through what we cannot bear. He will give us the strength to bear it.
Hardship may be all around us. Even now, God is leading me through some difficult times with painful lessons. But He leads!! A passage comes to mind that has been of great comfort to me: