I think I will call the last few months The Dark Years, Revisited. I know it's not always this way, but for us, self-employment in a rotten economy was not a good idea.
But that does not mean it was not a good thing.
We spent the first 23 years of our marriage thinking we could do it all. We might even have thought somehow we deserved it all.
This last year we realized we couldn't and we didn't.
But we also saw that God is there even when we don't get the contract (or when we have to work and don't really want to), when finances are incredibly tight, when we are forced to let go of some things we think are our security, and when we don't have anywhere else to turn but to our knees.
We realized again our faith in a God who loves to show up in less-than-ideal circumstances.
I wish I'd always had a good attitude during all this. My personal journal is full of lines like, "I HATE this!" and "Where ARE you, God?" (aren't you glad I spared you those as blog posts?). I wish I could say it was fun. I wish I could say our teenagers always took our dramatic change to a Total Austerity lifestyle with grace and thanksgiving. I wish I could say it wasn't humbling.
But maybe that's the place God had in mind for us for this crazy year in the first place. Maybe (could it be, yet again?) His refusals have been His mercies.
Our faith is stronger because we've actually been required to use it. More importantly, our faith is planted more firmly, and certainly more deeply, in God - the Blessed Controller of all things - as our Provider, not in our own strength or great ideas. We are making it through a very rough patch with our marriage intact, our family united, and our lives filled - not with happiness that comes from everything going our way - but with joy.
I wouldn't trade all of what the world calls "success" for that.
God is good.
Life is likely to continue to hold many forms of torture and dismay for that unhappy person and for all who refuse to receive with thanksgiving instead of complaint the place in life God has chosen for them. The torture is self-inflicted, for God has not rejected their prayers.
He knows better than any of us do what furthers our salvation. Our true happiness is to be realized precisely through his refusals, which are always mercies. His choice is flawlessly contrived to give the deepest kind of joy as soon as it is embraced.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26, NIV