By Rebekah Coffman
People who haven’t been through hardships are boring. Think about it – do you know someone who always looks like they have it all together; that Barbie or Ken who seem to skate through life unscathed? While you might find yourself secretly coveting their wealth, or their education, or their appearance, when it comes down to it they don’t have much to talk about. They are merely surface deep.
That’s because trials and hardships eventually produce character. Obstacles you have to overcome or hardships you have to endure give you depth. They help mold you into who God wants you to be, move you to where He wants you to go, and to see what He wants you to see or learn.
Romans 5:4 states, “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance…” (NKJV)
I have absolutely seen evidence of this character forming in my life, especially in the last year or so.
My husband Josh and I semi-jokingly named 2017 “The Year of Transition” since we moved across the country from Texas to Florida in the last two weeks of 2016. We knew planting new roots in Orlando would take all of 2017 and beyond. 2017 indeed proved to be a year of transitions, and God was faithful in all of them. Since we felt we had been spot-on with our year-naming abilities, we decided to name 2018, “The Year of Building.” We thought we would be focusing on building Josh’s family law practice and building new relationships, but little did we know that God seemed to focus on building our character a little extra this year. 2018 is only half over and already:
- My younger sister has endured a bitter divorce after less than one year of marriage – a marriage in which we found out she was abused emotionally and physically.
- I went through a nerve-wracking mammogram due to a suspicious spot of tissue.
- Our dog suffered a terrible scratch on her cornea that took about two weeks to heal.
- Numerous abnormalities forced my mother-in-law to have her stomach removed, and doctors later confirmed cancer was found in the stomach. She has since endured one month on a feeding tube with several cumbersome and painful setbacks in her healing journey that is ongoing.
- Around the same time as my mother-in-law’s major surgery, I lost two elderly great uncles, both of who were more like grandfathers to me.
- Our toddler suffered two separate bouts of sickness.
- A dermatologist removed an unexpected basal cell carcinoma from Josh’s face.
- Next, Josh came down with shingles because as you can imagine, he was stressed!
Clearly, I am not in control!
But let’s remember the second half of Romans 5:4, which states the trials that lead to perseverance next lead to “character, and character…. hope.”
In the “BECOMING: Identity” study I recently completed, author Carla Waterman wrote about hope and put it perfectly:
Hope is one of those words we throw around in everyday language without much thought. In our casual conversations, we hope for good weather or to lose a few pounds. In deeper interactions, we hope for favorable test results or to find the fulfillment for which we long. We hope in all manner of things, and we should—Our God is a God of hope! But, too many times, we treat hope as a wish or whim, a cross-my-fingers sort of desire that really has no power behind it.
When we know the Author of hope, this word takes on life-changing meaning. Christian hope is the Holy Spirit’s empowering gift that keeps us continuing to become new creations until we are finally and fully united in Christ. For the believer, this hope assures us that all will eventually be made right, no matter what struggles life brings. Hope guarantees our belief that we can trust in what we do not see. Let us grow in our understanding of the incredible gift of hope so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may be women that abound in it.
So while we wait for our Savior to make everything right in His perfect timing, when you face trials and sufferings, I encourage you to stay on the way to hope; on the path of surrender to God’s will by:
- Being humble: We must admit we are fallen creatures. Carla Waterman also says, “there’s no need to be ‘on the way’ if we believe we’ve already arrived.” You cannot take the reigns of your circumstances. When you do, you’re living in a false hope. You must be vulnerable enough to receive true Christian hope.
- Having patience and endurance: Carla Waterman says, “The waiting and the aching as well as the watering and the walking is all a part of marking us more deeply with the inheritance of Christian hope.”
- Remembering to thank God for your trials: A thankful heart can help reveal blessings even in the midst of the bleakest circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV)
Though 2018 has been challenging and exhausting thus far, my family and I have already seen God’s provision and numerous blessings come from the trials we have faced. God continues to provide, time and time again. Now I can look at each trial we have come through like a breadcrumb trail of God’s faithfulness that will hopefully (see what I did there?) propel me through the next trial.
Rebekah Coffman is currently serving on the Media Committee of the Women’s Resource Council, a fitting role as she is an award-winning journalist and former social media manager. Rebekah graduated from Texas Christian University in 2009 with a broadcast journalism degree. She started her career as a web producer and TV reporter at KCEN-TV in Waco. Her next career move took her to KVUE-TV in Austin, where Rebekah became the city’s first known “online correspondent,” a type of multi-media journalist working both in front of TV and web cameras, as well as managing the news station’s numerous social media profiles and mobile apps. While she’s not currently involved in the local news business, Rebekah remains actively engaged in social media projects, managing content for her husband’s family law practice and the children’s ministry at her church, First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. Rebekah has been married to Josh for nearly seven years, and they stay busy with their energetic toddler son and feisty fur-baby. She’s broken the strongest bone in the human body (long story), loves going to farmers markets, and dreams of one day owning her own bed and breakfast in Maine.