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Post by Fellow Shelby Ostrom

It had been a week since I had buried a parent in the ground, saying a heartbreaking final goodbye, and just under 24 hours since I had said goodbye to a friend who decided leaving the Ranch was the best decision. I sat in a truck behind the dining hall and sobbed. One of my Fellows sat in the truck beside me and listened, affirming my tears. My sobbing grew more uncontrolled.

Between the passing of my stepmother and navigating my mental health, this past year of my life has contained more sadness and mourning than I ever could have planned for or imagined. Amidst this pain, I have become more aware than ever that the Lord I serve is not defined by my feelings; He is faithful, joyful, gracious, and loving despite my circumstances or emotions. I don’t need to feel a certain way in order for my Creator to be worthy of my worship and praise—He always is.

1 John 3:20 tells us that we know God is greater than our hearts. As my heart aches of pain and the brokenness of this world, I can know that I am met by a greater, holier. Christ so lovingly shared in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” These feelings do not define my identity in Christ, but instead are met by Christ and made new in Christ—turned from mourning to comfort.

While I experience this comfort through His Scriptures, through the Spirit that lives in me, and through the Salvation I’ve been given by the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, in this season of life I also have the joy of experiencing His Comfort through the Holy Spirit within the people I live and work with each day—the people I am in fellowship with. Whether it’s a sharpening question as to why I made the choice I did, a loving meal that I didn’t have to prepare with my own hands, or a comforting reassurance that it’s okay to sob in a truck about the brokenness of this world, I am thankful to do life with 13 others this year.

Today I praise the Lord that some days I experience His joy firsthand through the people around me or the emotions I have, and other days I step out in faith and trust that there is joy present despite my weakness. May my heart sing the tune of Psalm 16:7-11. 

“I always let the Lord guide me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.

Therefore, my heart is glad

and my whole being rejoices;

my body also rests securely.

For you will not abandon me to Sheol;

you will not allow your faithful one to see decay.

You reveal the path of life to me;

in your presence is abundant joy;

at your right hand are eternal pleasures.”