GRAINS OF SAND | Ashley Rodriguez

(photo by abby carlson)

“The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, and the Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” – Psalm 29:10-11

Within the last six months, I’ve gone through one of the most difficult trials I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had bouts of sicknesses like most people, but I have never been in a constant state of pain until March of this year. Week after week, with no sign of improvement, I began to think that something was wrong. Four months of continual, unexplained stomach pain and other symptoms… I was scared.

At first, I viewed it as a ‘spiritual attack’… we know that phrase well, don’t we? That phrase is so often used when something ‘bad’ or something uncomfortable happens… oh, it must be an attack from the enemy, we think. While that could be true in some cases, I feel that sometimes I’m too quick to blame trials and stormy waters on the ‘enemy’…. as if the devil is in charge. With that kind of mentality, where does that put God in our trials? Just a bystander waiting to turn things around, waiting to ‘right’ the ‘wrong’? To our finite minds, something that looks bad must of course be bad and initiated by the enemy. It wasn’t until midway through my season of sickness that I started to think that maybe it wasn’t an attack after all, maybe it was for huge, unseen reasons that God wanted me to go through the fire… because without fire, I can’t be refined.

Remember the life of Joseph? He had dreams of being a leader, but when he was seventeen his brothers sold him into slavery in a fit of jealousy. Years later, he was accused of rape by his master’s wife because he abstained from her seduction. He was betrayed by people he loved and trusted. He was wrongly accused. A slave, a convicted criminal, a prisoner…. all in a span of thirteen years. Joseph had every reason to believe that he was ‘under attack’ but he didn’t view it as that. He continued to be diligent in whatever state he found himself in, loving and trusting God.

When God later fulfilled the dreams He had given him as a teenager, and placed him as leader over Egypt, Joseph was able to say to his brothers –

“And God sent me before you to preserve posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharoah, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”

Genesis 45:7-8

My trials look different than Joseph’s, but my trials [your trials] serve a purpose. I didn’t know when or if I’d come out of my health issues, I didn’t know what would happen, but knowing that God was King, that He was the one orchestrating it, brought me so much peace and acceptance. After four months, I’m so thankful to say that God did heal me… and I’m so thankful that He had me go through that trial because I learned so many valuable lessons that I could not have learned otherwise.

Joseph knew God sent him, through every trial. God is sending me, and God is sending you too. God is the One working it out. He’s in control of everything even if it seems ‘bad’ to our human eyes. His plans are perfect and in order for us to get from point A to point B, He has to lead us through things that hurt, for our good and for the good of others. Our refinement isn’t just about us, it’s always tied to multiple threads that God is weaving for good. God is not a bystander during our trials. He is actively working everything out. God is the Author of our faith, which means He personally writes every single word for much greater reasons than we could ever dream up.

No matter what’s going on in your life, I pray you can find a glimmer of hope today, knowing that God is relentlessly loving you and composing every moment, every step, every trial for good.

“My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.”

James 1:2-4


Ashley is an illustrator, explorer, and dreamer from Montana.

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