Finding Joy through Adversity

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Today I want to talk about finding joy through adversity.  This past week I flew back East to attend a funeral which is why I haven’t posted recently.  This is a poem that was read at the funeral:

Timur’s  Poem

Although your work on earth is done,

Your life in heaven has just begun.

Your struggles here were hard and long

But they’re over now, you’re finally home.

Life wasn’t easy, by choice or fate

A decision made sometimes too late.

A fight to the finish always strong

Rest easy Timur, you’re finally home.

Timur was my brother in every way.  His mother died due to cancer and not long after his father died.  Timur was put in a mental institution because he had Down’s Syndrome.  My dad was very close to his late parents and flew out to bring him home as his own son.  He became Timur’s legal guardian and in turn, I had a new brother.  He was with us for about 30 years.  Timur was kind, funny, and saw the world through pure eyes.  He died of pneumonia at the age of 48.  I know that he is in a better place now and free from his disability.  He is missed.  Here is a video tribute I made for him:

So how can we find joy through adversity?  I think in order to find joy, we first need to know why we have adversity.  I am reminded of a favorite Hymn “How Firm a Foundation.”  There is a less known verse in that hymn that has always touched me to the core.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”

My father-in-law is a dental lab technician.  He often deals with precious metals when making implants, crowns, and the like.  While carving the teeth, precious metal dust mixes with porcelain and other impurities on his work surface.  He has a small drawer where he brushes all of these shavings into.  When he has accumulated enough shavings, he sends the mixture to a refinery where they burn off the “dross” or impurities and are able to separate the gold or precious metal.  He then gets paid for the precious metal.  One would think that perhaps it isn’t worth saving or bothering with the process, but it can add up to a lot of money and reduces waste.

I believe this refining process is also used on each one of us.  All of us will go through trials.  Some harder than others.  There have been times in my life when I wondered why certain things happened the way they did and why I was asked to bear such burdens.  Looking back, I see a ribbon of gold in my tapestry and a level of strength I never would have gained were it not for my trials.  Through our trials we grow.

I think of my son who likes to body build.  He works every day (except Sunday) lifting weights in the hope of getting stronger.  As his muscle tears and breaks down, the new muscle that is formed is larger and stronger than the old.  His testing makes him strong just as our trials help us to be refined.

My favorite quote growing up is one I memorized (though I don’t know who first said it).  It goes like this:

“Life is a grindstone.  Whether it grinds you down, or polishes you up depends upon what you are made of.”

I used to always tell myself, “You are a diamond in the making.”

Yes, our adversity helps mold us into who we are today, but how can we find joy through adversity?  Have you ever been through a terrible storm only to look outside to see the clouds part with a beautiful rainbow over head?  Have you ever had the loss of a child or pregnancy only to more appreciate the children you do have?  Have you ever felt loss only to regain back what you’ve lost ten fold?

My life has been full of such experiences.  Without the bitter, we would never know the sweet.  I believe that our trials and adversity not only strengthen us, but help us to appreciate and cherish those things that we do have, bringing us JOY.

I want to end by sharing a story.  I was able to be a “ma” on a reenactment pioneer trek with my husband.  We headed up a group of several youth and had to put all of our belongings into a hand cart.  We had one change of clothes and very little with us.  The trek was for three days in the wilderness.  On the first night we had a torrential down pour.  All of us got soaked to the bone.  Our oatmeal was filled with rain water the next morning, making it inedible, and we were freezing.  Honestly, I wanted to go home.  I thought, “Why should I have to do this?  I have a car and a house.  Why suffer?”  I voted to go home.  The group, however, decided to stay so I was outvoted.  We trekked all day through the rain, had our wagon stuck on several occasions, and when I thought things couldn’t get worse, we approached this huge hill that we had to climb.  At the time, it seemed unbearable.  As we approached the top of the hill, water logged, tired, and hungry, all of a sudden the rain stopped.  The clouds parted and a beautiful ray of sunshine shone down upon us drying and warming our weathered bodies.  I cannot describe what I was feeling in that moment, but the joy and happiness I felt was immeasurable.  I think I even started crying tears of gratitude and happiness.  I end with a quote from Psalms,

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

May you find joy and added strength through your challenges and happiness thereafter.
To read more about getting through adversity, I published an article in my church magazine entitled, “Finding My Way through Mists of Darkness” that you can read here if interested.  Thanks for reading!
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