Day 8: Lindsay Ingram

Hebrews 4:15-16
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

My last 12 months were filled with so many losses, the thought of boasting in the Lord left me coming up as empty as I felt for most of 2023. To speak of the good that God has done for me seemed a near impossible undertaking. One after another in stunning succession over the last year, I experienced pruning after pruning without time to prepare or recover between each swift and painful cut.
I have spent the last year of my walk with the Lord holding onto my faith by a thread. Prayer has felt like speaking into thin air. His tangible presence a distant memory. My hope became fixed on eternity alone, and I half-joked more than once that I felt like Job-lite. I knew very early on in my walk that the Christian life was never meant to be an easy one, as the first major trial came only five swift months after God gifted me salvation, but I wasn’t expecting this past year’s pruning to be quite so intense, or the duration of this current valley to be so utterly deep and long.
But God knew what was coming my way this past year, and while He didn’t shield me from any of the suffering, He mercifully and thankfully held on to me far tighter than I could ever hold on to Him. Our faithful Father, while I was in the midst of losing so very much, was gracious to always grant me enough strength to be able to endure and hold on to Him for just one more day over and over again.  
The heart is deceitful above all things…  For God gave us a spirit not of fear…  He will not leave you or forsake you…  He who promised is faithful…  I know all of this and so much more. We all know these beautiful and comforting words from Scripture, which God blessed us to not just be able to read, but with His Spirit, to comprehend and believe, and yet, when faced with delays, trials, losses, and unanswered prayers, it is so easy to focus on what we feel in spite of what we know, and just like that, we take our eyes off the Lord, the only hope and fulfillment we are truly guaranteed, and instead acutely fix our gaze on our seemingly hopeless circumstances.
Despite the grief, pain, doubt, and wanting to throw my hands up in the air with broken defeat instead of hopeful surrender, today I am able to boast in the comfort of knowing that whatever we go through, our High Priest, our Intercessor, the one and only reason we are able to enter into the presence of a holy God as His sons and daughters, our savior, Jesus Christ, experienced my sufferings and yet so much more.
We all go through seasons where we feel like God’s presence has been removed from us, yet Christ experienced real and complete separation from God the Father on the cross.
We experience rejection from people who we thought would be walking with us for more than just a brief season, yet Christ was repeatedly rejected by the very people who He designed before time began and breathed into existence.
We pray for a specific outcome for a relationship, a child, a health crisis, a job, yet Christ prayed for any other way than the cross if God would just be willing to open up a new path, but in the end, He laid down His earthly desires along with His life in submission to the will of the Father so that we would never have to endure the pain, punishment, and eternal death we are all so deserving to receive.
God owes us nothing, while we owe Him everything, and no matter the circumstance, God is good all the time, and His ways are so much higher than ours. Who are we, truly, to question them? It is so important to remember that salvation is actually the most unfair phenomenon in the world. We, as believers, are graced with a gift we will never be capable of earning, be worthy of receiving, or ever attempt to begin to repay, all because He first loved us. He paid the highest price, and in doing so, willingly chose to know the innermost workings of our pain and sorrows. Boasting in the Lord for who He is rather than what He has done, is for me, in this season, what brings the most joy and peace, because I have no earthly idea what He is doing in my life right now, but I can rest assured that He does. God is above all things, in all things, and He will waste nothing of this shadow-filled valley for my good and most importantly, His glory.  
"Heavenly Father, thanks is all I have to give. Everything I have and everything I am is from You and for You. Please help me to remember that even my sorrows are gifts to be wrapped and given to You when they become too heavy a burden to carry. May I hold everything but You with open hands and always give thanks and remain joyful in all circumstances, for nothing in this world can compare to what I have in You, Christ Jesus. Thank you for being my Lord, my light, and my salvation. May I always remember that You alone are enough, and let me never forget that true wisdom lies in the fear of the Lord.
In your name, Jesus, I ask and pray.  Amen"

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