Do you like surprises? Maybe it depends on the surprise. We tend to like surprises that benefit us, and not ones that make our day more difficult or costly. Earlier this week on Tuesday morning, I was getting out oldest child up and ready for school while the others slept. At some point I realized that the dog had pooped in the hallway and it had been stepped in and tracked through the house. This was not a surprise I wanted to deal with 10 minutes before getting the kid out the door and on the bus. Afterward, I spent 15 minutes tracking down what I could and cleaning it up before others got up. It happens, spills and messes happen, things get broken, people break things accidentally and on purpose, people try to steal from you, people get hurt and sick,, etc. Dog poop aside, it doesn’t take long to realize we live in a broken world and some days we feel more behind than ahead. So what is our response when we have crummy days like that?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
It may not be the best strategy, but one thing I always consider when I encounter big and little challenges is that it could always be worse. We can likely look at our own lives and remember more difficult times that we have made it through, sometimes for the better. I have been reading about disaster stories and biographies of some people who have endured trials 10 times worse than mine and they survived and even thrived in the aftermath. I may even say in the midst of difficulties, ‘at least I’m alive and have a chance to make things better.’ I’m not sure if that is a pessimistic or optimistic view of things, but at least it gives us hope. In the worst case scenario, we can even say “If this kills me, at least I will see Jesus.” Do you usually try to find a silver lining or something redeemable in every difficult situation, or not?
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
The other thing to consider is whether difficulties and trials bring you closer to God and others or further away from them. Usually when we are on the other side of challenges, we can see it more clearly and say it wasn’t so bad, or even be much more thankful to others for their help, or to God for providing a way to get through it. These are healthy responses, whereas becoming more bitter, isolated, or antagonistic toward God and other people is not healthy. People say what does not kill you makes you stronger, and that often is the case if it has not permanently hurt or scarred you, and even in those cases can give you a stronger will to not let yourself or others get hurt again. When we do make it through physical, emotional, financial, mental, or other challenges, let us draw closer to God for healing and restoration, new hope, and new life in what lies ahead. May both those good and unwanted surprises in life help you grow stronger and into a better person than what you were before.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Your in Christ,