What do tests accomplish?
Ever been through a test? I'm not talking about the tests that you took in school, I'm talking about a live-it-out test from the Lord. Tests come in all forms, and often overlap in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms.
I'm going through a test right now. I spend so much time painting that the Lord ties the two together for me. One bit of advice I usually give my students is not to rush over the rough parts, but to stop and consider HOW you might solve a problem. This gives you a chance to consider various solutions. When painting, you're in the driver's seat, of course. In life you're not--at least you're not if you've offered yourself to the Lord as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), as I have. God is the driver. So how do the two compare?
This way: when you get to a place in your painting or your life where you don't quite know how to handle things, don't willy-nilly rush through it fearfully, just trying to erase the bad or uncomfortable or embarrassing parts, but take the time to consider carefully the situation and the REAL solution.
It's so easy to auto-focus on the problem in a painting. I used to find the problem and scrub out the offending part as quickly as I could get it out of there, or, conversely, spend more time massaging what was already beautiful in order to ignore the problem, putting off working on that one part. I've discovered that if I will simply stop, take my painting off the easel away from the pastels, and spend time ON the problem, the solution that comes is not only helpful to the painting, it becomes a tool I have at hand in considering the next problem of its kind.
When I come to a rough patch in life my instinct is to duck my head and lean into the pressure, to pull harder and try to fix things myself, which usually involves either making more money (as if money mends everything) or filling my mind with things that distract me from my troubles (as if by not thinking, things will be better.) Now, as I go through this trial, I know the Lord is urging me to treat it the same way I do a painting. Take the time to consider what's there and think back to the times I've been here before.
Oh, the solution isn't in my power, as it is when I'm painting, but the way to arrive at a peaceful place is exactly the same. Don't try to scrub out the offending parts. Don't massage the places that are working as a means of distraction. Stop. Take time to consider what has worked before...or in this case, WHO has worked before. I can't tell you how many times the Lord has proved Himself to me, providing exactly what I need at the perfect time. And I have some powerful promises for the future from Him, too. The past looks good. The future looks better.
So this time is no different. I'm drawn to Peter's advice. "There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."
He's the Artist. I choose to trust Him for the outcome. Thanks for your prayers!
Oh--and don't scrub out that offending part of your painting so fast. Take time, think it through. That way, when you find the solution, you have something you can really rely on for the future.