A (Wonderfully) Bittersweet Life

Last time, I shared ways that you and I can add sweetness and joy to life, even when we are going through hardships. And the thought presents itself: “If only I had no trials and difficulties…..life would be so much easier then!”

Yes, it might be easier, but it would also be dull and we would never grow in our Christian walk.  God uses the trials–the bitter times–to draw us closer to Himself  and make us more like Jesus. The sweet times–the good times–would not be nearly as precious to us if we did not go through the bitter times.

When things are going well, we have a tendency to stop seeking God for everything. Yet during trials we lean on God constantly, drawing our strength from Him. When people go through trials and truly lean on their Savior, they come through it with a deeper understanding of Who God is and have a closer relationship with Him. They also say that they would be willing to go through that trial again, because of the closeness they felt with God at the time of that trial.

I went through a difficult time, in which I didn’t know what God was doing or why He was doing it that way. I still don’t fully know why He allowed or caused things to happen that way. But because I went through that time of trial, I learned to trust God and lean on Him, in hard times or in good times.

And you know what else? If I could relive that time in my life, I honestly would want to do it the same way all over again. I’d want the same heartache, same joy, same disappointment, same everything…..right down to the most minute detail.  Because I came through that trial with a stronger faith and more love for my King, plus an appreciation for all the good things He has given to me. I remember fondly everything He did, and I can whole-heartedly say, “It was good.”

So welcome the bitter in life. It will make you appreciate the sweet. 🙂

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Life: Bitter or Sweet?

life bitter or sweet

I like coffee quite a bit. My favorite way to drink it is decaf with a couple spoonfuls of sugar and a little bit of creamer(French Vanilla or Hazelnut are the preferred).

The other day I was making myself a cup of coffee, and I put in the usual two spoonfuls of sugar and splash of creamer. As I took a sip, I noticed how sweet it was……too sweet, actually. “I’ll try leaving out the sugar next time. That hazelnut creamer is really sweet.”

Next day, I made my coffee…..without any sugar. I took the first sip and it was horribly bitter! Plus, it had cooled  down to lukewarm so it  just tasted  yucky. I added a spoonful of sugar and put the mug in the microwave to heat it up. The next sip I took was excellent….the perfecct blend of  sweet and bitter and hot: just the way I like it. I happily settled into my chair to enjoy my coffee.

As I sat there, slowly sipping my drink, a quote came to  my mind.

Life is a lot like coffee: it can be bitter, or you can make it sweeter by what you put in it.

Life is full of trials and disappointments. We can allow these hardships to make us bitter. Or we can make this difficult time of life  sweeter, by what we put in it. Rather than sowing more bitterness (which will lead to a lukewarm relationship with Christ), we can sow joy and love.

“How?” you may ask. Well, when you feel discouraged or disappointed or burdened by a trial, simply pray or read God’s Word, or go find other people who are also discouraged and then encourage them. So you’re going through a hard time in your life: lean on God, draw your strength from Him, then go out and serve Him unreservedly. Watch as the joy, peace, and love flow over and through you. You’ll be amazed by the blessings you’ll receive in return for being a blessing to others in need!

Don’t let the trials of life make you bitter. Instead, add a little sweetness from God’s Word and go serve Him faithfully.

Blind Contentment

Blind Contentment | Everyday Encouragements

Fanny Crosby wrote this little poem when she was about eight years old. She had been blinded as a baby, never to regain her sight. Even as a little girl, she chose not to be bitter or discontent in her state of blindness.

The first time I read that poem, I was touched by it. “If a little girl can be content to be blind, then surely I can be content, too.” It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I saw this poem in a new light.

So often, I want to see what God’s plan is for my life. I want to know what He’s doing and how it will effect the future. Sometimes I feel as if I can’t see what I’m supposed to do. I feel…….blind to what the future holds.

Here’s where the poem helps. I can choose to be anxious or frustrated by this state of not knowing, or I can choose to be content. In this world of the unexpected uncontrollable, I can be resolved to be content with what I do know. And  when I’m content, I can enjoy such wonderful blessings from the Lord…….blessings that discontent people don’t enjoy! To weep and sigh because I’m blind to what God is doing…….I can not and I won’t!!

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. ~Philippians 4:11

Pure and Reflective, Like Silver or Gold

Last night in my devotional time, I was reading Proverbs 17. Verse 3 stood out to me: “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord trieth (tests) the heart.” It reminded me of a story I heard in church one time:

When a silversmith is going to make something of silver, he must first make it pure. The silversmith puts the silver in a pot over the fire, so that it will melt. Then, as it melts, the impure things rise to the surface. The silversmith then removes those impurities and waits for more to surface. Then removes those as well. He keeps doing this, with the pot of silver over the fire, until all the impurities are removed and he can see his reflection when he looks at the silver.

Well, as the above verse states, God does the same thing to us!  He is the silversmith, and He will continue trying us and testing us until He can see His reflection in us. And the best part is, He won’t stop until that happens! Yes, the trials might seem long and difficult. But the end result is that we are more like Jesus! And that makes the trials worth going through. 🙂 He refines, that we may be as pure as silver or gold.

Rejoice in the Lord by Ron Hamilton

God never moves without purpose or plan When trying His servant and molding a man. Give thanks to the Lord though your testing seems long; In darkness He giveth a song.

(Chorus) O Rejoice in the Lord He makes no mistake, He knoweth the end of each path that I take, For when I am tried And purified, I shall come forth as gold.

I could not see through the shadows ahead; So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead. I bowed to the will of the Master that day; Then peace came and tears fled away.

Now I can see testing comes from above; God strengthens His children and purges in love. My Father knows best, and I trust in His care; Through purging more fruit I will bear.

O Rejoice in the Lord He makes no mistake, He knoweth the end of each path that I take, For when I am tried And purified, I shall come forth as gold.

So next time you are faced with a trial, remember this: God is allowing this because He knows that you will become more like Him because of it. Don’t question the trial or bother fighting it; allow God to do His perfect work in you!

God’s Pace

God's pace

Today, I was taking our dog, Domino, out for a run. I clipped on his leash and lead him to the door. “C’mon, boy!” I said cheerfully. We went outside  and straight for the woods. A few minutes later I ran Domino around the house. As we were running, though, I noticed that Domino would either run ahead of me, pulling and tugging, or he would stop to smell the ground and walk slowly. Either way, he would not follow my leading. Only a few times would Domino actually run at the pace I had set, staying right at my side. How much easier it was then!

The same is so true  in my walk with the Lord.  He has set a pace for my life, and when I stay directly at His side, running the race is so much easier. But when I try to run at a slower pace, balking at where He wants me to go,  the Lord must pull and tug to get me to go where I’m supposed to be. Then I get running, and get ahead of where He wants me to be, so that God must pull me back to His side. But why can’t I just stay by His side in the first place? Is it because I don’t trust Him? I ought to, but I don’t think I do quite so much as I should. If He could create the universe with such detail and beauty, I think I can trust Him to lead me at just the right time, to just the right place that I should be. May we all run the race with perseverance….at God’s pace.