When I think too much about what I perceive are my life's hardships [i.e. become too introspective] this is where my thoughts go:
Why is this so hard?
What did I do to deserve this?
If I had made this choice differently x number of years ago, would I have avoided this hardship today?
If I dwell in that place too long, it is damaging to my joy.
Well, here is a thought-provoking excerpt from a blog called Compared to Who? written by a Christian gal named Heather Creekmore. This is from her post, What Do You Do When it Hurts?
I love the Olympics. I am amazed by the participants. Watching the gymnasts, swimmers, divers, runners, rowers, and athletic powerhouses in every category of competition is impressive. It’s thrilling to see them make it to this moment and, in many cases, to watch them win.
But, I wonder. Could they have ever made it to that medal stand without pain? If they had trained “hurt free” for decades, would they have ever had the opportunity to compete for gold? How many times did those gymnasts fall from the uneven bars? How many years did those swimmers’ arms’ ache after nine hours of training in the pool? How many missed twists off the 10 meter caused a sting to the diver’s body? How many times have these athletes been treated for torn ligaments, strained muscles, or even broken bones? How many times has it hurt SO bad that they questioned whether or not they should continue?
My thought for the day is that working out, if done well, is not pain-free. If you want to succeed as an athlete. There will be pain.
Same with life. Somewhere, somehow, we got the impression that because we are Americans life will be pain free. As Christians we take that one step further, believing that because we have God on our side we are even more immunized from hurt. If it makes you say “ouch” we quickly search for an escape. We assume we should be able to get away because, surely, that’s not what God has for us. We “claim” the Bible verses that speak to God’s protection as our shields against enduring hardships. We ignore the verses that promise things like, “we will be persecuted” (John 15:18-21) or you, “will have trouble” (John 16:33). Even the oft-quoted 23rd Psalm mentions going through the “valley of the shadow of death.”
What we miss is that the promise is that God is with us through the hurt. It is not that life will be pain-free. The promise is that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) That He will be with us as we walk through that dark, dark valley. (Psalm 23:4) The promise is that we have no reason to fear because we know God is in control.
I'll be honest. I want my life to be pain-free. Without annoyances. No inconveniences. Where everything goes my way. And since it's summertime, I'll say I'm tired of pulling weeds! both literally and proverbially. *wink*
But Heather Creekmore is right—do I/we ignore the Bible verses that indicate we will have troubles in this life? In fact, 1 Peter 4:12 says, "Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you." (That whole chapter gives excellent perspective and encouragement, by the way!)
But she is also right as she points out where our hope needs to lie: in God's promises (especially the ones in bold print above). He will not leave us! I love John 16:33—"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world!" Our Savior, Jesus, cares for us—and He wins the battle in the end—and you can take heart in that! :)
(There's also the aspect that troubles and trials build character— halleluiah! our trials are not wasted!— and for that, I call God the Great Recycler! But that's another post....)