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This is not hard, it's a blessing.

These were the words whispered into my soul in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep.

I was awake due to the ravages of COVID. Mind you, my case was much less severe than SO many others, but fever, chills, aches, cough, stuffiness, the list continued. And I had just healed from the stomach flu and, before that, the worst sinus infection I've ever had.

My daughter, who was 35 weeks pregnant, had gotten hit first by COVID. And she was so very sick. They were sent to the hospital, thinking she was in labor, and they found she had COVID and was severely dehydrated. So, of course, her hubby got infected. Her entire family, sans the 3-year-old (who was probably the infector culprit), was sick. I, the Mama, couldn't help. I'm ok if I'm sick, but not when it's my 'babies.' Does anyone else say Amen to that?

Those words, "This is not hard; it's a blessing," were whispered to my soul from the Holy Spirit in response to my plea to not fall into self-pity. I felt that pull from the enemy to feel sorry for myself and sink into hopelessness in my vulnerability from this long stretch of illness and concern for my daughter and unborn baby.

I could already see so many blessings that God had provided in the middle of the hardships; friends, a comfortable house, medical advice, air conditioning(not to be taken for granted in 100-degree weather), not in the hospital, time to recover before the baby was born. The list went on, but I sensed God had more to teach me.

So in my brain-fog, stuffy-headed state, I asked. I waited. And this is what I heard from the Lord, and throughout the years of walking with God, I've learned that what He speaks into my soul is usually not just for me. It’s potentially for all of us who love the Lord. And for those who will choose His love.

These are some of the blessings He has for us in the hardships.

You (fill in your name here) are adored by God. You are loved. You are not perfect, but you cling to the Perfect One. Indeed I am stripping away all the ‘props’ of self-works. Perfection. Pride. Arrogance. Self-sufficiency.

NO OTHER THING/NAME THAN JESUS. You asked. I’m answering. You asked to get out of your comfort zone. CHECK.

You asked to increase your faith. CHECK.

You asked to surrender more fully to my love. CHECK.

You asked to depend more fully on me. CHECK.

These are flourishing during the hardships. When you are rendered 'useless,' I am working in ways you cannot see or know. Trust me in this. I am also answering the cries of your heart for your children. Trust me in this.

You know I am working in you, albeit so differently than you thought I would. Your prayers are being answered through the hardships. Like one of your missionary friends said lately: “It’s a mystery of how God is working, but He is." (Referring to entire Muslim families coming to Christ. In all 20+ years of ministry, he's never seen a whole family choosing Christ at the same time).

It's a mystery because it’s happening despite your inability to work, have input (I couldn't even utter a cohesive prayer during these illnesses); progress. By whatever 'measure' you try to assess yourself.

When I say NOTHING + Jesus, I mean NOTHING. Jesus paid it all.

Your yes, is access to the ALL. NOT- your behavior-your ability to hear or articulate- or time spent praying/studying- NOTHING you can do or bring changes the ALL that Christ has already accomplished. Truly nothing.

So my dear ones, the blessing is vulnerability. The blessing is loosening of the illusion of control. The blessing is neediness. The blessing is receiving. The blessing is resting.

As I sense Him speaking this into my soul, anxiousness rises. I begin feeling selfish. Unworthy. I see the part of me that needs man's approval, and the false self of 'trying' to 'be good and 'do the right thing' rises. Then I see the abject hopelessness and nothingness inside of me, and I quickly want to 'cover up with fig leaves.' I want to say something witty, knowledgeable, or profound. Do SOMETHING, like say an effective prayer, or serve someone who is needy (not me, of course)… DO SOMETHING THAT WOULD GIVE ME VALUE.

And then I realize I'm still hiding in the Garden with God instead of being 'naked and unashamed.' He's inviting me into the freedom. NO, He's ENABLING me through my weakness and inability to RECEIVE the freedom He already has for me.

Then I flash to my 3-year-old Grand Daughter running naked in the backyard. Unashamed. She is free to have fun and live fully because she is well cared for, and the world's cares have not invaded her life yet.

Loved. Chosen. Accepted. VALUABLE, just because God decided to create her.

That's enough. It's everything.

I realize that I've been operating out of the belief that I need my 'fish and loaves' to give you before something can happen, which means that I NEED TO DO SOMETHING and contribute somehow.

And, of course, you created us to co-labor with you. But even before the 'fish and the loaves, ' Adam had nothing but himself to give to God. Before sin entered the Garden, all he had and needed came from being in God's presence. Naked and unashamed with our God who created us. That is God's design, and it’s what He wants for us today.

AND WHERE WE WILL THRIVE…when we dance with the Trinity. When we accept that we have value, we have love and are accepted because God created us. We were created to delight in the Lord, as He first delights in us. (Think a newborn baby).

I hear God who loves me say(to you and me), "So dear one, everything that strips you, allows more surrender, more dependence on me, is a blessing. It raises your faith and trust and erodes that which stands against it- pride, self-sufficiency, control. You are highly favored, dear one. Highly favored. This favor is not dependent on man's applause – only Heaven's. And Heaven's applause is all centered on Christ. So when you choose Him, you too inherit His favor. Rest easy dear one. Rest easy in ALL that Christ has accomplished.

I think I’m beginning to get it. How about you?

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