by Sara Claudia
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
At 20-years-old, when I suddenly, unexpectedly, and tragically lost vision in both of my eyes and hearing in one of my ears, it was a bitter blow to say the least. You know that old saying, “making lemonade out of lemons”? Honestly, I saw no possible way to turn the lemon I had been handed into a sweet, refreshing glass of lemonade. And, if anyone had quoted this cliche to me during my early days of blindness, my reaction probably wouldn’t have been very lady-like or Jesus-like.
I was very lost spiritually at the time, but through turning to God and His Word, I learned a lot about His grace, His ability to guide us through the most uncertain of circumstances, and His way of helping us find happiness in the midst of even the most horrible of hardships.
James 1 summarizes the idea of “making lemonade out of lemons” when it says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2 ESV) The last part of this verse is easy for me to understand, because I know I am bound to face tough times whether it is a financial struggle, losing a friend or loved one, or, yes, even being unexpectedly plunged into a world of darkness. But, why should I consider it an opportunity for joy when my circumstances are anything but joyous?
At the time of my sight loss in 2015, I had my whole life ahead of me. I was a rising college senior, a nationally ranked equestrian, and a fun-loving, spirited young woman with opportunities galore. But that all changed when, following a routine surgery, I found myself facing a future as someone with a disability. I spent many of those first few days, weeks, and even months plagued by grief, pain, and sadness.
The questions consumed me: How would I ever move forward with my life and get my independence back? How would I have a normal career or relationship? How would I ever laugh, smile, or be happy in spite of this loss I had suffered, and why would I even want to?
The next verse of James 1 says “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:3 ESV)
These two verses became a foundation for me as I slowly rebuilt my life despite the new challenges that I faced. With God’s word as a guide, I began to realize that, when we face trials and combat them with our faith instead of bitterness and anger, some pretty amazing things can happen.
Steadfastness is defined as being firm in your beliefs, unwavering, or loyal. Other translations of the same verse give more insight into what “steadfastness” means “the trying of your faith worketh patience,” says the King James Version, while the New Living translation promises that “when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:3 NLT)
The underlying message remains the same, we can be joyful throughout our hardships because it can produce fruit—like that of patience and endurance, a deep stability of character—in our lives and the lives of others.
As the days and weeks progressed and to my dismay, my eyes were not healed, it would have been very easy for me to become discouraged. At times, I did and still do.
Thankfully, though, there was a deeper change happening in me. It came as my heart and soul were healed as I grew to know Christ more fully and intimately than I ever had before.
My blindness and hearing loss had left me weak and broken, but it also gave me an opportunity to rely on God’s strength, courage, and hope.
I found joy as I allowed God to work on me, for me, and even through me.
Today, I find joy in my hardships because I use them every single day to share how God continually sees me through them. As a speaker and author, I have learned to be vulnerable with others about my dark circumstances, struggles, and pain but—at the same time—honest about how God uses each of those moments to teach me something new about His mercy, grace, and love. I may have lost my sight, but I see these truths about God more clearly than ever.
Not only is that steadfastness and patient endurance seeing me through my trials, but I pray that my testimony shows others how they can also find happiness in their hardships.
As Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV) And for this, we can be joyous, patient, and strong no matter what life throws our way because we know God can and will use it for His glory. After all, Christ is the secret ingredient to making any “lemon” situation into a sweet, tasty, and refreshing glass of lemonade.
Sara Claudia is an author and public speaker who is passionate about encouraging women to “Walk by Faith, Not by Sight." Find her on Instagram @saraclaudia, her website, and on her podcast Finding Light.