Sunday, September 8, 2013

Embracing difficulties

I've been questioning something lately.  There was a difficulty of sorts that I was facing a while ago.  I very much wanted something that I could not ever have.  So, I did everything I could to just run away.  Bury the desire down so far that I barely admitted it to myself.  Clearly it was there, I was fully aware of it, but I didn't want it.  It scared me.  I somehow felt that even admitting it to myself was sin. 

I prayed constantly for the desire to be taken away from me.  After a very long time, it slowly faded away.  It seemed... anticlimactic in a way.  The thing is, I relied on my own power to get away from it.  Though I did ask God to take it away, I never actually prayed for actual help to overcome this.  I never saw it as an opportunity of sorts.  Not once did it cross my mind that maybe this was in my life to teach me something.  Not once did I stop and say "Ok God, why is this suddenly an issue for me?  What can I learn from this?  What are you trying to teach me here?  Help me understand!"

Furthermore, I now understand that asking for a trial to be taken away is really pretty selfish.  Of course, we do it because we don't want to be tempted and possibly fall into sinning in some way.  That is good.  But we are completely missing the point on why the trial is there in the first place. 

Imagine God wants you to learn some new skill, say swimming.  When you draw near to the pool, you don't want to jump in the water, because, well, swimming might be hard.  You might go through some pain and struggling to get good at it.  Maybe you're afraid you won't even like swimming.  So, maybe it's for the best if you just give up and not jump in at all.  Sounds pretty silly and childish right?  Yet that's exactly what we are doing when we ask God to take our trials away.  Sometimes He pushes us in.  Asking him to help you out of the pool won't get you anywhere.  You'll never learn how to swim that way!

These hardships we have are used by God to great effect in our lives - we learn to rely on him more, we grow in our faith, we find new strength we never thought we had, all sorts of good things happen.  If we just run away, we are just missing out on some of the blessings he wants to share with us.  Sounds strange, I know. 

Lastly, and most importantly, we are being selfish when we do this.  We are called to glorify God first and foremost in our lives.  Overcoming trials and temptations with His strength is a phenomenal way of doing this.  If we run, we are choosing ourselves first.  Jesus didn't run from his great difficulty, thank God for that! 

We need to follow His example.  Asking for the hardship to be removed is fine, but we have to also accept it if God does not take it away.  He usually does not remove it, because he loves us that much.  He wants to shower blessings on us, and unfortunately sometimes we are only made ready for those blessings by going through something painful.

So the next time you are facing a new difficulty, consider praying this:  I will trust you to lead me through this.  I know you will give me more than enough strength to handle this.  Use this to deepen my faith and understanding.  Above all, I want to bring glory to you.  Show me how to overcome this.  Amen!