Happy New Year! How were your holidays?

Stepfamily holidays can include angst, confusion, and disappointment. If that was your situation, I hope you’ll allow God to redeem and restore you as we begin a new year.

I shared a story in Stepparenting With Grace about a particularly hard holiday season for a fellow writer friend, Carla McClafferty. I hope her story encourages you.

“‘It was to be a Thanksgiving that would change our lives forever.’ So begins Carla McClafferty’s book Forgiving God, in which she unveils the tragedy that left her young son lifeless. On a sunny afternoon in their backyard, fourteen-month-old Corey fell out of a swing and suffered a head injury. Sadly, he never recovered. In the last hours of his life, his mom prayed desperately that God would save his life. But God said no. In her book, McClafferty describes her journey of seeking to understand and make sense of the horrible tragedy.

I met McClafferty at a writers’ group meeting. She described the loss she’d experienced years prior and her confusion in wondering why, if God loved her, He hadn’t cared enough to answer her prayers. Then, in a gentle tone, devoid of anger, she relayed how she had come to understand that she would never know why God hadn’t chosen to save her son’s life—and she expressed the peace that knowledge had given her.

In her book, McClafferty writes, ‘When I accepted the fact that I would never know, I was able to stop searching for the answer.’ Further, she shares a defining lesson in the last sentence of her book:

Sometimes, God doesn’t change our circumstances, He changes us in our circumstances.’

Promising Hope for Disappointing and Sorrowful Times by Gayla Grace

No one likes to endure hard seasons. But God often teaches us our greatest lessons in the hardest seasons. Will we allow Him to transform us in the midst of hard days? It’s easier to do when we realize there is always a greater purpose in what we go through.

‘We shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God,’ says author and pastor Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker. ‘‘If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you.’ First Chronicles 22:19 says: ‘Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God.’ Then we’re promised: ‘If you seek him, he will be found by you’ (1 Chronicles 28:9).

We can turn to God during times of deep trouble and confusion. We can pour out our hearts and ask Him hard questions about our stepfamily circumstances. ‘I don’t want to waste my sorrows,’ a friend told me recently. ‘I’m asking God to help me find meaning to them.’

Perhaps we should consider how God wants to change us instead of asking God to change our circumstances. The question becomes: ‘What do You want me to learn from this, God? I’m listening.'”

What have you learned during a hard season? Would you be willing to share in the comments to help others?

For more encouragement on your stepparenting journey, check out my latest book, Stepparenting With Grace.


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