Right before Christmas my husband was injured.
We were just upstairs in the barn, cleaning up a few building scraps from when we built the house last year. It wasn’t hard work, nor was it particularly dangerous work.
When my husband took a deep breath and told me his finger had just been cut off, I looked around bewildered, trying to grasp what in the world he was talking about.
Later that night, sitting in the ER, waiting for the doctor to get our transfer papers together, the whole accident hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t life-threatening. In fact, I knew in a few months he’d be used to the shorter finger and life would go on relatively the same as always.
Yet, the 3-6 weeks of recovery seemed to loom over me with crazy force.
We live in the North, right in the “snow-belt” where the warm wet air from Lake Ontario collides with cold fronts and dumps feet of snow at a time. We live on a farm, with animals to feed and manure to spread and buildings to keep warm.
The weight of all the responsibility for our family, which is usually balanced fairly equally between us, was going to rest heavy on me for awhile.
In the weeks that followed, I’ve been reminded of three important things required to persevere when things get hard.
1. Do the next thing.
It was Elisabeth Elliot who once said, “Just do the next thing.” And she’s right.
Perseverance, it turns out, has more to do with the very next step than it does the end goal.
And when we just keep doing the next thing? God shows up. He really does.
Sometimes through the neighbor who offers to plow the driveway when it snows, sometimes through the friend who just “stops in” the day after an accident and offers to take care of barn chores for a few days, sometimes through generous friends and relatives who send cards with fifty dollar bills stuck inside, and sometimes through providing energy and strength we didn’t know we possessed.
But regardless of how He does it, God does show Himself. We just need to hold tight and do whatever comes next.
2. Remember, every season has an end.
Good or bad, seasons come and go. Last night my husband was finally able to come out to the barn with me again. He ran the gutter cleaner and chatted with me as I finished up chores. He’s still one-handed in many ways, but he was there and some of the burden was lifted for a moment.
It’s been several weeks of hard, intense physical labor for me. But that will end. (Though hopefully I’ll be able to keep the strength I’ve gained through this!)
This is true in every season of hard. Some are longer than others, but as time passes, things change. When it all feels overwhelming, a few deep breaths may just what the doctor ordered.
3. Don’t stop praying.
These last few weeks have been so, so rich. I’ve been exhausted enough that my Bible-reading usually includes me falling asleep, but my prayer life has been rich and full. All those hours in the barn, convincing round bales to move, talking heifers into going where I need them to, feeding grain, scraping manure–all that time was perfect for talking to my Father.
Sometimes my prayers were for strength, but most of the time was spent digging up some of my own sinfulness and selfishness. Getting to root of my temper and my frustration with others. Tearing myself from the position of god in my own life and placing the true Savior and Redeemer back where He belongs.
I’m thankful for this season, that’s the truth. I’m thankful for a Father who forces me to deal with my own heart. He is so gracious, working through even hard things to make us holy.
God has given our bodies an amazing ability to heal, to fight, to do what needs to be done to survive. But His goal is much deeper. It has less to do with today and more to do with eternity.
If you are fighting through the hard things today, I encourage you to persevere.
Keep doing the next thing, remember that seasons change, and keep talking to God. He’s right there–ready and willing to come beside you and remake you, even from this place.