By Mariah Mulderink
When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to audition for a major Hollywood film (cough, cough, it may have been a Conan Brothers’ film). After the first phase of the audition process, I received a callback. Well, you would have thought I had just been nominated for an Oscar. A callback? This role was clearly mine and I would be filming within weeks. My career as an actress was beginning!
Well, I’m not an actress. Not even close! And you know what, I praise God for that...now. For little ol’ high school me, not getting that part was the end of the world...praising God for that disappointment would have been absurd. So why do I praise Him now? Because God is so good. In what seemed like the greatest disappointment, God worked. God sought after my heart and rather than working as an actress filming off in some desert with incredible actors, I was encountering Christ in my ordinary, simple life. I encountered Him in such a way that my whole life has been affected up to this day. My life would not be what it is today were it not for that disappointment.
A lot of people accept that life is filled with disappointments. You don’t have to convince many people that life is hard. However, how many of us trust that God blesses us through those hardships and not in spite of them? Can we accept that some of our greatest suffering, our most difficult trials have allowed God to work in big and small ways in our lives?
A practice I like to repeat often in my prayer is to reflect back on some of the difficult times in my life. I reflect back on the times when it seemed as though God was failing to answer my prayers. I look back on times where I felt alone and even abandoned. I think of those times when things just did not seem to be going my way. I reflect on those times and I ask God, “How did You work in this?” Sometimes, it is so clear how He worked. He can show me exactly how He strengthened my faith, or built up a certain virtue in me, or gave me the opportunity to grow in relationship with someone. Sometimes, He simply reminds me, “I loved you.”
It is so beautiful when we can see how God has worked in our lives, especially in those times that were so difficult. Seeing that something good came from our suffering is such a consolation! It is such a great reminder of God’s goodness and His love for us. However, we can also be consoled in the simple reminder that “I am loved.” And not just by anyone! We are loved by God! We are loved with the most perfect and unconditional love, the love of the Father.
This last year, many of us have experienced disappointments and suffered in varying degrees. For some, this year has been just about surviving. You don’t have to look far to find people who just want this year to be over. Leave 2020 in the past and don’t look back.
I want to encourage something different. I want to encourage all of us to reflect back on this year and ask God, “How did You work in this? Lord, how have you been present in this year?” How God answers this question may be different for each one of us. For some it may be that because of the virus, your family has been spending more time together. Perhaps, you have been able to slow down and be more present to those around you. Maybe you were finally able to make a habit of praying daily. I am sure I cannot conceive all the many different ways God has worked in this year. But I want to know them. Here at Chews Life, we want to know your stories. We want to invite you into our story! In these crazy times, we want to build up a community of support and encounter.
Over the next few weeks, we at Chews Life are taking the time to reflect on Christ present. We want to pause and recognize the graces we need to ask from Him. In Him, we want to rest and then begin again.
Mariah Mulderink is wife, mom, Masters in Theology student, and marketing director for Chews Life. Her greatest joys are her faith, her family, her friends, and any chance to be competitive. For her, one of the greatest privileges she has received is the opportunity to pursue her Masters in Theology. Studying the faith is not only fascinating but is also a beautiful way to know God better. She hopes her studies and her faith will always equip her to share Christ in her work and with every person she meets.
You can find out more about her here.