What went wrong for you this past week? Did anything break down? Maybe a vehicle? A much needed appliance? A career opportunity? A relationship? Your health?
It’s kinda annoying when someone reminds us that these things are a part of life. “Thank you Einstein.” We know this, right!? It’s particularly bothersome when it comes from someone who is currently experiencing ease, as they sprinkle this advice over us as if it were fairy dust that should instantly transform our entire being. (insert a sigh here)
Maybe it can be a quick victory in our minds at times, but in some situations – it’s a long, bloody battle (spiritually speaking). I believe we’re better off for having it hard won. We’re likely more understanding, more realistic, more empathic— more mature in our thinking, overall.
It’s not that reminders to “think positive” aren’t necessary. I can’t live without them. But it’s the attitude in which advice is given that can build up or break you. No matter how old we are and no matter how much we know that life is hard and that we should expect trouble, it doesn’t always stop our spirit from being downcast.
A couple of years ago, I was in such deep despair that it really shook me to my core because I did not understand how I (as a Christian) could sink so low and wrestle as much as I did with doubts and fears. But during that time, I found comfort in reading Job’s experiences.
This man who obviously loved and belonged to God wrestled with what was happening to him. We get the benefit of seeing all of Job’s story, but he himself didn’t have that helpful knowledge, that all would end well, that his faith was being tested, that he would come out in the end with FAR more than he had started with. Job was better off NOT knowing the whole story. Having a limited perspective is what truly blessed him in the end.
A faith-filled perspective is also our challenge when things break down, small or large; simple or complex. Our limited perspective will tempt us to fear, to try and make sense of our circumstances, to doubt the promises of God—anything but pure faith that all will end well.
Recently, we’ve experienced vehicle troubles, again. I know that’s on the low end of the hardship scale, but it’s a good example for the purpose of this post. Upon hearing this bad news, I have options about the direction my thoughts will take. I can be struck with fear and anxiety about the what if’s, the expenses, the necessity to completely re-order my plans, etc… or I can pray for God to help me see what I’m gaining through the trouble instead.
I wish I could say that I ace this test, but you and I (and God) know better. I begin by flunking pretty often. But, I’m reminded of Truth. Graaaadually, I fight to stand firm in it. My faith perspective gets clearer and stronger.
Instead of trouble, I start seeing a father and two sons becoming skilled in auto mechanics and dealing with real life obstacles that wouldn’t have been possible apart from experiencing the trouble in the first place. I see my own heart and mind being blessed at the opportunity to practice contentment and trust to prepare me for when things will go wrong tomorrow and the next day and the next. I practice thanking God, even for the trouble. (Well, the benefits, that is.)
It may not be as small as vehicle troubles. It may be a relationship or my health that breaks down. But the principle is the same. I have to focus on what I’m gaining, trusting that God has promised that it ends well. All of it. Even if it appears that I’m losing. Not that I think it will be easy for me. No, I’m thankful for God’s patience—knowing I can be a weak and difficult child. I’d likely drive myself crazy if He’d let me, but He disciplines me for my good because He loves me. And I know He’s doing the same for you.
This is of my all-time favorite quotes.
“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” –Thomas Edison
Those wise words are all about perspective from a man who knew a lot about failure and ultimately success. When it comes to our faith, let’s remember that our troubles are all opportunities to grow. My prayer is that God will grant us the eyes to see. In Jesus’ name ~ so be it.
Practicing with you, friend… Jamie =)