Romans 5:3-5. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Sometimes, doggone it, life is hard! Circumstances change in life every day, sometimes every minute. Hard times can come and last an hour, perhaps a year, a decade, even a lifetime. We have no way of knowing what is coming next, what is going to throw us for a loop or what is going to try and pull us down. And so we are thankful for those ‘seasons’ that allow us to breathe, to have peace and just a day where everything goes right. And as much as hard times come, good times come as well. There is no rhyme or reason to good and bad things happening in life, disease, economic downturns, accidents – it happens to everyone! Certainly we have some control over circumstances and the way we live our lives. I’m not going to go walking downtown at 2 am by myself – common sense and good choices play a large role in our journey in life.
A few years ago, I had been dealing with so many little issues around my house. I guess the older a house gets, the more things seem to happen all at once. A couple of appliances broke down, I had a leaky sink and I had no idea how to fix any of it. At one point, I sort of threw up my hands and said, “I can’t deal with this, Lord!” Then, I started thinking about Romans 5 and pictured myself at the gym lifting weights. If I lift the weights myself, I gain strength and satisfaction. If someone comes over and moves my arm up and down for me, what have I gained? I decided to keep on going and flex my own handyman muscles, and I’m the better for it.
When the hard times come, it is not for us to beat ourselves up, or beat up on the Lord, it is for us to pray, to allow God to lead us and teach us through those times. If we have patience, if we remember to pray (and sometimes we forget in the midst of the storm!), if we can just hang on – we will grow stronger, we will grow in our faith and we will come out on the other side, wiser and calmer in our journeys.
Sometimes our inclination is to hurry up through the hard times and not experience it totally. I truly think we are missing out when we do that. Sure, it’s important to ‘cowboy’ or ‘cowgirl’ up and not wallow in our misery, but if we tamp down true emotion, if we refuse to cry, if we refuse to acknowledge anger or fear, then we do not allow ourselves to grow in maturity -- to transform through the experience. We do not allow ourselves the reality of saying ‘this is where I truly am. This is not where I want to be, so how do I get to --- there?’
If I rush to a new relationship with a broken heart because I don’t want to be alone, because I don’t want to do the heavy lifting involved in healing, I learn nothing. If my family is having some relational difficulties and I decide to sign the kids up for karate, piano and soccer, and then spend any free time we might have at the movies, how is that one-on-one time going to occur. How will we get past the hard times if we don’t have time to think, to look each other in the eye, to have down time to experience one another without rushing from place to place?
I think that happens to all of us now and again. Sometimes we just have to work our way through the tough spots, flex those feeble muscles and grow! It’s hard, it can be heart breaking, but we eventually come out on the other side stronger and wiser.
And you know what else you find when you go to gym? A spotter. You see people lifting weights together and one person stands to the side ready to grab that weight if it’s about to fall on the partner. I had spotters helping me with the house maintenance learning curve and I hope each of you have friends and loved ones in your life to help you over the rough spots. I am thankful for a faith community that is always ready to “spot” for each other!