Maybe you could sit with me here awhile. I’ll make you tea in my pretty green pot and set out a tray with chocolates and cookies. There will be a bundle of oleanders and cannas in an old pickle jar, because does anyone actually buy vases any more?

I’d like to hold your hand. To tell you it’s going to be alright.

Except I really honestly don’t care for that phrase. So I won’t.

Instead, we could cry together. We could admit that life is really, really hard. That sometimes, God just doesn’t answer our prayers like we wish he would. Submitting to the trial is sometimes the hardest part–letting go of what I know would be best.

Pain is real. Ever present. You don’t have to tell me that you’re fine. You aren’t and I’m probably not really either. What does “fine” mean? Useless, ambiguous word. Mere indicator of emotional lassitude.

Discouragement threatens. Sin and personal failure a constant fight. This world a truly disturbing place.

Would you like some milk and sugar?

It’s the Valleys of Achors, the places of trouble, that are doors to hope. From a place of defeat and sin, into an abundant land flowing with milk and honey. No one but the despondent are given hope. No one but the grieving receive comfort. The downtrodden are the ones lifted up.

That’s where glory can be found.

Not where there is self-sufficiency and the proverbial all good. If we were healthy, had our well-behaved, obedient children alive and in hand, if we had a wonderful, unfailing, active local church, if we had all the money, brains and success possible, abundant food, clothes and shelter, faithful friends–we would truly have need of nothing. Not even God.

There’s glory in the trial that brings patience and character, shameless hope and carries you to the feet of divine love.

As I sit in my own physical pain, discouragement and helplessness, I have no solutions for today. No assurance anything will improve permanently on this journey, that these trials will ever fully end.

Is the glory of becoming more like Christ, then, a deeper relationship with God, enough of an answer for myself? If that were the singular, over-arching purpose of every tear, every ache, could I truly be content?

I’ll share with you a really brazen hope.

I hope so.

Here, have a bit more tea and the last cookie.

Tea from my girl, comfort in a lupus flare.

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