This week has been hard. Last week was too. And the one before that. Here's a quick rundown (not that you asked).

Three weeks ago we ended our Christmas marathon. My oldest boys, Josh and Daniel, left for Ukraine and Minnesota respectively after a way-too-short two week visit, not to return for four months. My body and emotions were exhausted, and I crashed and burned. I was sick for the rest of the week.

Last week I was faced with the overwhelming "holiday neglect" of my house. All those necessary things I'd put off came at me like a tidal wave. You name it . . bills, laundry, toilets, email, etc. It took almost the whole week to get back on the horse and feel like I'd started to wrangle this chaos into some order. Consequently, I was anticipating this week with high expectations of success.

Then it hit me. Fatigue, flu feelings, and FOG . . brain fog. The kind that makes my thoughts skip and repeat like a broken record. All together it sent me to bed for a day and a half and is still dragging around my ankles as I write. While the physical pain is annoying, the real struggle for me is the inability to create the kind of day I've planned. The way it limits me and feels like it shouldn't be. It doesn't belong. 

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Romans 8:22-25. It says this:

"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, be we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." 

I like it because it corroborates my reality. It resounds with my own groaning. It affirms what I can't deny . . this life is hard no matter how wonderful it is. It also reassures me this is as it should be. Anyone who's experienced the "pains of childbirth" knows no matter how wonderful the outcome, birthing a baby HURTS! My soul groans, but I'm not alone. All of creation in all its beauty groans with me. Waiting. Waiting. But with sure hope.

This is how The Message expresses these verses:

"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."

While the first translation resounds with empathy toward my condition, the Message paraphrase rings with hope. It brings to memory those precious people who were with me during my six labors, encouraging and reminding me of why I could have "joyful expectancy" in the midst of pain. This "enlarging" is uncomfortable for sure. I must adjust my expectations, accept limits, and know that something better is coming as my heart is being prepared.

So may I wait with both hope and patience as the girth of my heart is enlarged.

How is your heart being enlarged through difficulty and pain?