I think the biggest threat to my joy during this season of suffering is my propensity to believe that: If/When [fill in the blank], Then [fill in the blank].

Here are some examples:

  • If Asher understood the pain he caused and showed a desire to mend those broken relationships, then I would have hope that God was working redemption.
  • If God moved in Asher’s heart, then I would have hope for reunification.
  • When Asher changes for the good, then I will be happy.
  • When I am able to find the right model of love for Asher, then he will feel secure.
  • When we have suffered enough, then God will heal our family.

There is such danger in believing this exaggeratedly simple equation. And at its core, there lies an unspoken assumption about the character of God.

He owes me something.

He does not, in case you were confused.

God is ultimately orchestrating our journey through this time of grief. Were He not, we would lack the assurance of His promise to work these things for our good (Romans 8:28). But He does not owe me anything as a result of my sacrifice, pain, suffering, or even faithfulness.

Yikes, Teeli! Even your faithfulness earns you nothing?

No. It doesn’t. My faithfulness is an outpouring of my thankfulness to His already accomplished work on the cross. Granted, being faithful to biblical truths might well keep me on the right side of the law, or even the right side of people’s good opinion – but it might not, too.

I must remind myself that I am working to stay faithful because Christ loved me while I was still a sinner. He threw Himself in front of the wrath of God so that I might live free of condemnation. I’m trying to move towards this undeniable truth more and more so that my attitude remains consistent even through difficult circumstances. I want to say, with countless saints who have gone before me, it is well with my soul.