It’s Sunday afternoon, but I don’t feel holy. The Christmas decorations are still up. Managing the kids has left my weekend to-do list virtually untouched.

I feel behind on a job that never finishes.

I speak harshly, I am frustrated. My impatience shines through, tone, mood, words, actions.

And then these words speak Truth to me again: Suddenly, they’re saying it’s all grace.

The baby finally naps thirty minutes. Asleep in my arms. Two teeth stretching gums, waiting for breakthrough.

He wakes in a flurry of upset, I don a coat, switching him from one hip to the other, slip his coat on his little arms, hood over his head.

He loves outside.

Put that baby in the wagon and pull him around the neighborhood…he’ll look excited enough to jump out.

The Hubs is in the backyard pulling weeds. He’s been at it for hours. Long, strong vines that have had years to spread, unhindered. Who knows how deep their root system goes, how these interconnected spider webs move, slowly and silently, to quietly crush their hosts, slowly strangling life.

He has hacked in one section, plans to attack them as high as he can reach. They’ve creeped up a tree.

“Will they kill that tree?” I ask quietly.

“They already are,” he says. “But if I cut off their roots here, hopefully they’ll die. They’re too strong and thick for me to pull them down now.”

Back inside I ponder what to do with this little one, this one who just wants to be held.

I’m selfish. I want to do what I want to do. I forget all of this is gift.

I go to the bathroom. He sits on the floor in front of me. Wants to stand up, reach his little fists into the water. I sigh while I manage to prevent that from happening.

I wonder for a while at this heart of mine, I think about my own weeds.

An ancient whisper from Job comes into my mind…the man who’d lost everything in a day or two, and exclaimed “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” His wife encouraged a bitter response, but he replied:

“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and not adversity?” {Job. 2:10}


My displeasure with some small aspect of my circumstances — when I refuse to see it from the right perspective — becomes a creeping weed. It edges up, up, up, starts circling and squeezing my heart.

That question from the snake in the garden, “Did God really say…” arrives in many forms. Asks if He does really love us when we don’t find things working out the way we think they should.

The thing is, the adversity, rightly seen, is a gift, too. There is beauty on the other side of the trial — like the pain and suffering of the crucifixion, our forgiveness.

Our redemption flowed from adversity.

His pain bought our peace.

And the challenges of life that get me uncomfortable are the very things that bring me to my knees, to His feet.

But forget the trial is rightly received as gift and you misunderstand the Giver, and the weeds creep up, waiting to strangle, ready to sap life thin and thirsty, dry.

Sometimes breakthrough is the victory you sense and savor when the trial is over.

But sometimes, breakthrough is the ability to say, like Paul:

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” {Phil. 4: 11 – 13}

Breakthrough comes when you, in the trial, are able to praise His goodness, declare His greatness — find contentment in every circumstance.

Sometimes breakthrough is the victory we experience in the trial — when we are able to trust God afresh. Lean on His goodness. And the ‘all things’ we celebrate being able to do isn’t so much related to human feats of great effort, phenomenal accomplishments made by ordinary people — the incredible all things we can do through the strength of Christ have ever so much more to do with our ability to thrive under pressure…with joy.

To endure the trial and trust it will birth redemption, even if we don’t see it yet. Isn’t that breakthrough? Faith that is sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t yet see?

Breakthrough is laying hold of the weeds that have laid hold of your heart, repenting and renewing your mind — hacking away at them with the Truth, refusing to let them strangle out the Life that flows from abiding in the Vine under the shadow of His wings.

Breakthrough is finding the ability to embrace your own human shortcomings, knowing these weaknesses are the space where His strength is made perfect.

A week and a day later, I’m here finishing these thoughts that started a Sunday ago when I was troubled by the trial. Those two tiny teeth have poked through those tender gums. Our nights are getting easier, I am not so tired in the day.

But the breakthrough came before the trial ended, when I tuned my heart to the keys of trust and thankful.

Parenthood, and all of life, is full of challenge, heartache, trial. But what glory there is to behold when we can lift our hands in the midst of the hard and the messy, and give praise.

The Lord, our God! He is indeed so good. Even when we can’t yet see the redemption, we can trust that we will.

And right there — the faith in the furnace — there’s the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for.