For 6 weeks we have been battling sickness in our home. It all started off with a simple cold/flu bug that has morphed into this giant, parainfluenza super-flu that just will NOT seem to loosen its grip on our family! We’ve all suffered from it in one way or another, from weeks of coughing and congestion, to sore throats, croup, ear aches and pink eye.

I’ve spent these past weeks doing many extra loads of laundry, disinfecting every surface I can think of, wiping drippy noses and goopy eyes, cleaning and re-cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing walls, banisters and door knobs in hopes of quelling this flu storm and killing it once and for all.

I have every reason to wallow in our misery, to mope and moan and shake my fist at God for taking us through this trial. Because I do believe that this is a trial, and that it is the length of such episodes when they occur that make them such.

And yet, I’m not angry. I’m not filled with self-pity. Oh believe me, I have my tear-filled “Will this ever end?!” moments where my heart cracks and breaks under the pressure of enduring. But this brings me once again to constant prayer, to a place of quiet surrender, a knowledge that He is God, and He is good, and He knows what He is doing.

I have friends who endure a daily, lifelong struggle of chronic illness. Others whose bodies and hearts ache and long to carry and hold a child of their own. Precious souls who go through so much more than 6 weeks of the flu. And yet they still praise.

James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” God has been teaching me this lesson – this station of standing in submission and receiving what comes, allowing the testing to produce steadfastness, and not bitterness.

One of the free books I received from the conference is Mary DeMuth’s Everything. This woman has been through the fire, multiple times! She has great perspective on trials and only one chapter in I have been greatly encouraged by her testimonies and her urging to trade everything for THE ONE THING. She said “Instead of obeying in the moment and experiencing powerful spiritual growth, we wander around in circles chasing ease, trusting in ourselves to solve our problems, living a Godless life.” I don’t know about you, but if trials and struggles = spiritual growth and a God-filled life, I’m willing to accept that!

A couple days ago, sweet Sally Clarkson wrote on her blog about her struggles to get home from the Allume conference we attended in Pennsylvania. She had every reason to become frustrated and annoyed, yet she chose to rest in the unexpected, and not only to do that, but to care about the needs and heart of the woman behind the airline desk who was delivering her the bad news. In her struggles, she chose to look past herself and care for someone else.

I have an amazing, godly woman in my life whom I am blessed to call friend, and she reminds me so much of Sally. Just a short while after having had her 2nd baby, she was offering to bring us a meal or care for us in one way or another. She is continually looking out for the needs of others around her, though her own circumstances or situation might not be ideal.

She challenges me to find joy in perspective. To not ignore how and when I can bless others, despite what we may be going through ourselves. Just because I’ve had a new baby or our family is sick or we’re busy enough taking care of our own children, doesn’t mean I cannot see and meet a need in someone else’s life and thus show them Jesus.

Ann Voskamp‘s challenge to find 1,000 gifts in the everyday has been a way for me to shift my focus off myself and find joy in perspective and the every day. God orchestrated a few moments for me to chat with her on Friday night at Allume – I was not purposing to pursue her as I know she is busy, popular and very shy.

Yet the Lord provided me a connection with her, fellow Canadians just hours from each other at home, and in those few minutes, time she needed to spend working on her keynote for the following night, she poured joy and laughter and love into a young mother’s heart. Amidst her own struggles, she gave joy. (PS – she has a NEW SITE and a new 1,000 gifts journal!)

Are you struggling to get out from under the trial the Lord has currently placed you in, or are you living in the understanding that your faith produces steadfastness? Are you willing to surrender that trial, that idol, that dream? Are you able to find joy in perspective and bless someone else in your own suffering?

Please let me know how I can pray for you, if you need wisdom, encouragement, perspective, love, deliverance, strength. Let us come before his throne of grace with confidence, for he knows our needs!

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel! 1,000 Gifts:

551. Canadian healthcare!

552. Flowers from a friend

553. Hugs and hilarious times with friends new and old at Allume!

554. Dinner brought in by another friend.

555. A rare, God-moment with a precious woman encourager

556. A husband who helps fold laundry :D

557. Being able to homeschool so we can play catch-up whenever we get a chance

558. Prayers of faithful others for healing

559. A full nights’ sleep last night