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“Go where are you sent, stay where you are put, and give what you’ve got until you’re done.” Jill Briscoe

I was a broken mess, still trying to process the events that had happened over the last 18 months, when I heard this quote. It was Jill Briscoe the summer of 2018. I had moved back to Houston after the death of my first husband. Houston—the last place that I ever wanted or thought I would be. But it was this quote that I turned into a prayer—and faithfully made my heart’s desire—and God was faithful as He always is.

I’m often around women who find themselves in hard, unwanted, and unexpected spaces and places. Life has taken a turn they never wanted to experience. Not just a small turn, but a big turn. When life is so dramatically shaken, how do you move forward? How do you know what to do and where to go?

We can go to one of our favorites—the story of Esther, another woman who found herself in an unexpected place, a place that she never saw coming. But what did she do? She did exactly what this quote so nicely sums up. She went where she was sent. She stayed where she was put. She gave everything that she had until she was done.

With spring in the air, there is a plethora of new growth.

When I lived in Tennessee, there was a distinct change that I loved to watch as all the bleakness from winter faded away, and the beautiful colors appeared with new life. But the reason there is a difference is because winter is harsh. All the leaves are gone, the colors have been stripped away, though there is beauty in the white bleakness of winter, which sometimes reveals views you can’t see through the leaves. The winter is also necessary for new growth. There is a lot going on under the surface preparing for spring that we cannot see.

Winter seasons are difficult, but spring is coming, and God is at work.

What are some simple steps we can take in these unexpected seasons when life has been drastically interrupted? How can we encourage the women around us who find themselves in a new and unexpected season of life—whether they have received a diagnosis that has taken them away from their jobs, gone through an unexpected divorce, lost a spouse, or something else?

We need to remember that God is at work, and He can still use us no matter where we are or how “useful” we feel. One of the wisest men I have ever known, who also happened to be my father, Lucian Stohler, always said, “When you are in the center of God’s will, nothing is a waste.”

There is much that we can glean from the way Esther lived her life, but three main takeaways we continually see through her story can help us bloom where we are planted:

  1. Be pleasing to those around us (Esther 2:9,17). When life is hard, there may be a season of sackcloth, ashes, and mourning, but no matter what Esther had been through, she was continually pleasing those around her. We may want to be bitter, but with God’s strength, we can still shine His light even in our darkness (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, James 1:2).
  2. Listen and follow the voices of wisdom (Esther 2:10,15, 20). During difficult seasons, it can be challenging to see the road ahead. But if we seek wisdom, wisdom from the Lord through His Word, and wisdom from those who walk faithfully with Him who He has placed in our life to continually point us to Him, He will illuminate the next step along the path (Psalms 119:105).
  3. Stay faithful even when you don’t know the outcome (Esther 4:16). As Esther said, “If I perish, I perish.” That is such a bold statement of faith to continue to move forward even when the outcome may not be what we want it to be. Times of great uncertainty can also cause a wave of doubt from every direction. Doubt in ourselves, doubt in what we believe, and doubt in who we believe God to be. Doubt can be a tool that encourages us to dig deeper and strengthen our faith in an even greater way. But no matter what, no matter the outcome, we are to stay faithful (Isaiah 55:8-9).

A friend of mine, a homeschool mom, was coming out of a very stressful season with one of her medically complicated children a couple of years ago. One evening, she and her husband were hanging out in their hot tub, dreaming of what their future would look like in a few short years as empty nesters. Never did she plan on her husband passing away from cancer just weeks later after having some back pain.

It would have been easy for her to give up, become bitter, and walk away not only from her life but also her faith. It was a complete and unexpected interruption to the life she was living. But she remained faithful. She listened to wisdom. She found favor among those around her. She faithfully prayed for a new dream of the future even as her heart was shattered at the loss of her former life she had been living with her all too amazing husband. Now, through so many miracles, God has restored dreams she once had to start a small school. This dream quickly became a reality and has become a refuge for families who need an out-of-the-box approach to educate their children in a place centered around Christ. She bloomed where she was planted.

And no matter what your circumstance is, you can also do the same.

Though the unexpected may have come, the spring is yet to come.