Once upon a time I went through a very difficult (for me) period in my life. I felt alone, in spite of good friends/family who offered moral support.
They'd tell me, "You're such a strong person." I'd think, "Well, I don't feel strong," crying all night, many consecutive nights, for the better part of the year.
I often wondered, "How will get I through this?" All I had to hang on to was hope. So I prayed a ton and pressed on.
That dark period started just over 6 years ago. Since that time I endured divorce, going back to school while working and raising 3 kids on my own, and numerous sleepless nights - tossing & turning, worrying how I would pay a certain bill or how I would afford to fix problems in my little dumpy house which was always falling apart, or how I was going to make the last $5 in my checking account feed my family for the next two weeks. I questioned if I'd ever fall in love again, if someone could love me "for who I am, even if I am never any better, prettier, thinner, or less-flawed than I am right now, at this very moment."
I wondered, "Is God hearing me?" Admittedly, I even thought (like the brother of the prodigal son), "I was the GOOD one. Why me, Lord? Why me?"
But He was listening, and He did hear me. He allowed others to serve on my behalf. A gallon of milk would appear on my door step. A neighbor would bring over a hot dinner for no apparent reason other than she wanted to. An envelope of $200 would arrive in my mailbox the week before Christmas. The man around the corner would bring me an "extra" holiday ham because they had "one too many." A crate of Thanksgiving dinner would show up on my front porch. My yard was magically mowed, my driveway mysteriously shoveled. A $20 bill would fall from a jacket whilst retrieved from the clothes dryer. I would get an "inspired" idea for a completely made-up recipe using the last sleeve of saltines and the last small can of tuna (loaves & fishes?) from the pantry and it was plenty to feed my family, and better yet-- they liked it. And what were the chances I'd live across the street from the best auto mechanic around with mad skills that my older vehicle always seemed to need? How lucky was I to live among loving, Christ-like neighbors who always knew when I needed talk-therapy and tears, and maybe even some warm muffins or brownies, even if it was 2 in the morning?
For these tender mercies I was always grateful. But at the same time I hated it too. I wanted to be the giver! I wanted to be the one to serve!
Years ago I received a personal promise from the Lord, that if I lived my life paying a full tithe, I would not only have sufficient for my family, but I would "be able to share with those that are in need." Well, I paid my tithes. What about His part of the deal?
But apparently, my "blessing" wasn't on the instant gratification fast path. It came to me in His own time, in His own way(s). And in the grand scheme of things, looking back, my period of 6 dark years is in reality a small drop. After all, my life's not over yet.
As of a year and a half ago, I am happily remarried. My wonderful, kind, and patient husband listens, comforts, and often tells me the things I most need to hear. He is a hard worker and highly intelligent, and I've been blessed in a way that I no longer worry about finances or trying to juggle work and school. He is my biggest fan and is always encouraging me to pursue my career goals. We are walking Christ's path together and words cannot express how much joy this brings. Since marrying him I have physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually felt my burdens lift.
By the world's standards we are not rich. But our lives are richly blessed and I am finding I am able to serve others in ways which are meaningful to me (and hopefully them). Giving to others fills something inside of me that I cannot fully explicate, except to say it's my balm of Gilead.
Looking back and seeing the Lord's helping hand, guiding me, aiding me in the midst of my trials and seeing my own personal and spiritual progression, I have a personal testimony that I am loved and that, yes, I am strong!
There is no getting around, ducking under, or jumping over our trials. There is only going through. And only when we emerge the victor and no longer the victim of our trials, do we begin to realize our own fortitude.
I can do hard things. So can you. I am strong. So are you. With God, everything is possible. Don't give up. Instead, pray. Then press on.