As I sit at my computer, dark coffee in the mug beside me, I can hear the mundane sounds of the household in the background. The dryer is humming and the faint sound of water moving through the pipes to the dishwasher tells me that life is continuing. Chores are being done. The day will keep moving forward. Rain had been beating on the roof for over a week, but today there are no clouds in the sky. The wind is blowing, though, reminding me that even though I can feel the warmth of the sun coming in my window, it is still winter. And in winter, things seem to move slowly.

Today I’m contemplating things. I’ve been asking God why things happen the way they do. Why He hasn’t rushed in and saved the day? Why is His timing so much different than mine that we must endure suffering this long? And right when I think that pitiful thought I apologize for being so selfish! I know God’s timing is perfect. I know He has a plan in all He does. I pray for my faith to not be shaken. And then I think of Viktor E. Frankl.

Dr. Frankl, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, knew much about suffering – more than most people can even fathom. But, his words awaken a new attitude within me.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Viktor E. Frankl)

That is a lot to swallow. It sounds good on paper, but can I actually put those words into action? Can I really choose to face these challenges with an attitude that encourages those around me? I don’t feel strong enough. But then, Dr. Frankl also writes “What is to give light must endure burning.” Ok, I feel the burning. But how do I move forward to giving light?

Focus.

I’m choosing to focus on God, even in winter, even when things seem to move slowly.

I’m focusing on what I know about God. And on what I know to be true:

God is good. God is just. God is compassionate. God is loving. God is forgiving. God is generous. God will never leave me…

And, the list continues.

I’m choosing to focus on God and look beyond the suffering to the resulting blessings.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

This doesn’t mean I’m happy that things are difficult. It doesn’t mean I enjoy the fire torching our skin. But, I am encouraged because I know what endurance brings. I am looking forward to what it will create in me! I know that God is here. I am not alone. God never promised that life would be easy (John 16:33), but He did promise that He would never leave our side. (Deuteronomy 31:8) So today, I am choosing to let my light shine, the light that can only come from Christ through the refining of my soul. I know God is working and I am praising Him through the flame.

Secure in Hope,


32 Comments

  1. Hi Joan, so good to see you blogging again. I also kinda got out of it abit. Your post speaks right to my heart at the moment. I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how things look, God is in control.
    God bless, have an awesome week
    Tracy

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    1. Breaks are necessary sometimes, aren't they? But I'm really glad to be back here, blogging again!

      Yes, God is in control and I'm so glad He is! The trouble is reminding myself of that fact! I need to be intentional and tell myself that often. Reading His word, praying and even blogging help me with that!

      Blessings, Tracy! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Things do move slowly in winter and as much as I would like to be out of winter, there are lessons here. In the actual winters and the life winters. Thank you for sharing and for linking up so I could find you!

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    1. Looking for the lessons in winter is so important. I have often told myself to remember not to ask "why is this happening?" but rather, "what do you want me to learn through this?" God never wastes a hurt and He will bring good from every situation! I am counting on that!

      Blessings!

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  3. I too went through a lengthy trial that moved ever so slowly. It's so hard, isn't it? I love that you're striving toward looking toward what the Lord is creating in you. "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." -Psalm 27:14

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    1. Thank you, Amy. Yes, looking toward what God is creating in me helps to keep me moving forward! Things may seem slow in human standards, but to the Lord, this is just a short period of time. I am trusting that He is doing a good work - He always does!

      Have a wonderful week!

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  4. Hi Joan, You have such a gift for writing! I enjoyed this post so much. Your words were inspiring and encouraging.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Karen! And, I'm so glad you were encouraged. It helps me to write out my thoughts and the things that God is teaching me and my prayer is always that my words will be of help to others! Blessings!

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  5. Beautiful writing. Your word "choosing" is the key. My mom drilled into us as kids that "You always have a choice." As an adult, having endured some unbearable hardships, I've learned that it is, in fact, true. Even when I can't choose my circumstances, I can always choose how I will respond to them. Looking to Jesus is the ideal choice!

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    1. I think that so often we can get stuck in the rut of focusing on our problems and pain. The habit is hard to break, isn't it? But, when we are purposeful in our choices...and in the choice to focus on our Lord, He will give us the strength to move beyond our circumstances! I'm praising Him today!

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  6. Yes! Choosing well is such an important part of living life well. I have to admit, I'm not always good at it. My instinct is to focus on all the wrong things. I'm so grateful when God's grace brings me around!

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    1. I think almost everyone's "go-to" instinct is to focus on the difficulties rather than the blessings. Being intentional about changing our focus is hard, but I'm finding it gets easier with practice. I'm so grateful that God is so patient!

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  7. Joan, it was encouraging to read this tonight. Life may not be easy and it surely burns at times. But I am finding when life is difficult, God gives us more of Himself, His Presence, His grace to get us through the cold winter seasons of life. Blessings!

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    1. Hi Joanne! Yes, God is so generous. He always gives us more and more of Himself. The other night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep, my mind began to swirl around our current situation. However, I began to recite the 23rd Psalm in my mind and I could feel His comforting peace surrounding me. He is such a loving God!

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  8. Hi Joan,
    Great post! I can attest to all of the above in the times I journeyed through the death of my two children (dying a year apart of reach other) then in the death of my late husband to brain cancer.

    More recently in the medical emergency with my present husband! God's presence & grace is never ending!

    You're most welcome to drop by for a cuppa,
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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    1. Hi Jennifer!

      I'm so glad you stopped by! I can't even imagine how people get through trials without God. He has been and is my Rock and my strength through all things! I can see from your comment above and your writings over at Tea with Jennifer that you depend on our Lord as well! He showers mercy on us when we need it most! I'm so sorry that you have had to endure such pain in your life, but so glad that you have been strengthened by our Lord.

      Blessings!

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  9. Thanks for posting this. Great post! I love the quote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Viktor E. Frankl) We have a link-up going over at www.InstaEncouragements.com on our blog post from Tuesday. You should share this there! It'll be open until Friday morning.

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    1. Thanks for the heads-up about InstaEncouragements! I'll hop on over there and check it out! Blessings to you!

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  10. Such truth, my friend! I've been through some scorching times in my life, and only by focusing on God's goodness and love could I make it through the fires.

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    1. He's the one carrying us through! I know I couldn't have made it this far without Him. Thanks for stopping by, Anita!

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  11. Hi Joan! I didn't know you were blogging again. It's so good to see you here!

    This right here -- "the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances ..." I needed this reminder tonight. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Laura! Yes, I started up a couple of weeks ago and decided since it had been 2 years since I was regularly blogging, I'd start back up with a new look! That's why my blog has a new name and design...It's a new beginning! I'm so glad you found me :)

      Blessings, Joan

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  12. Very encouraging. Some days - or stretches of days - all I can do is choose to think on what I know to be true. My thoughts want to go a million other directions - but focusing on what I know to be true about my savior is key. For the hard days.....and, especially, for winter days! Ugh. Enjoyed finding your blog!!

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    1. Hi Jennifer! I'm glad you stopped by! Today I posted Philippians 4:8 on Instagram as I have been finding it so helpful in my focus! Thinking about the good things, the blessings, and all that is praiseworthy helps to keep my mood lifted! I am trusting God!

      Blessings, Joan

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  13. Amen!!! Love what you wrote, Joan! Endure, focus, and trust in God's never-ending presence and promises!! He is our Light that shines in us for all the world to see!! Blessings to you, friend!! Ann

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    1. Hi Ann! Romans 5:3-4 is such an encouragement in difficult times, isn't it? None of us enjoy trials, but knowing that God is doing a work in us during those times helps to keep us moving forward. Blessings, Joan

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  14. Thanks for the reminder that God's timing is perfect. I seem to be forgetting that lately.

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    1. It's easy to forget... When we are waiting for God to answer our prayers impatience is easy to feel, but as we look back, we can see that God always answers at just the right time!

      Blessings, Joan

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  15. So glad He is there. Knowing that does make it easier, even if life gets hard.

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    1. It really does! In my darkest moments I have always found comfort when I remember that He is right by my side!

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  16. Joan, your words resonate with me on many levels. Deuteronomy 31:8 is my favorite Bible verse ... God's presence is such a comfort when we're walking into the unknown, isn't it?

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    1. Yes! His presence gives us courage and strength to face wherever our path leads! Blessings!

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