Seven Lessons from Hard Times

Thirty-six years ago, I lay in a hospital attempting to bring forth our first-born child.  She was delivered on the day before Thanksgiving, and she has blessed our lives with so much thankfulness and grace.

The day was not easy, and the way was not clear that November.  We wanted this child desperately.  We had prayed for her and were thrilled when God blessed us with pregnancy.  We thought we were ready.  I had been teaching for several years; my husband was working.

But much unfolded during the nine months of expectant waiting.

My husband needed to return to school.  This necessitated selling our home and a major move away from all our family and support systems.  In the middle of the moving and arriving, a downturn in the economy, which looked like a recession in some areas, heavily impacted our new city.  Jobs were non-existent,especially when you were new to the area and a part-time student.  I was pregnant enough that landing a teaching job was not an option.   We thought we had prepared; we thought we had faith, but the reality seemed to become impossibility.  And a baby was on the way.

Those were hard times for us.  My devotions centered in the Book of Job.  We were caught and somewhat frightened.  God had our attention, and He took this time to lovingly teach us some valuable lessons.

Lesson 1:  Don’t let hardships separate you from your spouse.

That time cemented us a couple.  We had been married for two years, but we were still very independent.  When the support of family and friends was removed, we learned to treasure and protect each other.  The hard times strengthened our relationship.  Praying together was not optional; it was as necessary as breathing.

Lesson 2:  You can get by on a lot less than you think.

Faith becomes reality when you are praying for every meal and when some meals are cornbread and cabbage.  Every small provision warrants a celebration of thanksgiving. I remember walking to a nearby flea market where a gentleman was selling turnip greens.  He was ready to go home, so he let me have two bundles for less than a dollar.  We were so excited, and that was the best meal ever.  I still don’t know how we made every month’s rent, but God did provide. The amount was not what we wanted, and the means was not always pleasant, but God did provide.

Lesson 3:  The fellowship of believers is critical to survival.

We made friends not only at church but in the neighborhood.  There were Christians all around us, and many of them were struggling, too.  We shared and helped each other.  God would carry us to the brink only to provide through one of His children.  We learned what it meant to be community.

Lesson 4:  Pride has no place in the life of a Christian.

I am not talking about pride that makes us clean up and present well.  I  am talking about pride that keeps us from accepting help or letting others know that we are hurting.  God called us to be accountable to and for each other.  There were times when someone would visit and bring food to share.  We learned to thank God for His provision,and we didn’t complain about the menu.

Lesson 5:  Life’s greatest blessings are born during hard times.

God gave us a baby girl.  There was no money.  There were not a lot of things. But that child was (and is) precious to us.  At our lowest point, God gave us a great gift and we experienced His love through her.

Lesson 6:  Sometimes we experience God’s greatest peace when it seems that the night is the darkest.

I am by nature a worrier, and I will never understand how I managed that time without extreme anxiety.  I only know that God protected my heart and allowed me to trust His goodness and experience His peace.

Lesson 7:  God really does send His angels.

I continue to be amazed at how God used people to intervene at specific times in answer to prayer.  He placed a nurse next door to us who helped us learn to care for the new baby.  He provided furniture through His children that were moving to new locations.  He provided the best day care possible when I was finally able to go back to work. Over and over, we saw His hand in those around us.  I continue to give thanks for the angels unaware that touched and blessed our lives.

That time of our life is not one that I would wish to repeat, but I have always been thankful God taught us firsthand about His provision.  As we have faced other challenges, the lessons learned then have been reinforced over and over again.

God’s promises are true.  He is faithful.  He is enough.

Philippians 4:19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Happy birthday to our firstborn! We love you!

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