Perspective changes everything and how we process and experience life is very different based on the seasons we each go through. I have found myself extremely intrigued by my experience of loss and grief now and how my perspective on life seems more accurate and far more extensive than it did before. I look at older generations that have lived 70, 80 years and some still have such a depth of joy and life in them despite having seen many loved ones go or have gone through very difficult times.
Not that I wish all of us to go through suffering but I do believe it adds a depth of character and of life if we allow it to. There’s a rather interesting book called Irregular People written back in 1989 and it talks about how we as people have two options when we go through conflict; process through it or avoid it. Those that avoid it or escape through addictions for example stop maturing. Those that allow themselves to be shaped and molded and process through those hard experiences find growth.
1 Peter 4:12, “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
I spent so much time asking God, “But why do we need to experience this hard stuff? It’s not your will is it?” And yet here we all are with free will. One freely seeking to help his community heal and another freely destroying his family with abuse and neglect. It’s just nuts. Other times I’ve just been so confused by the hardships that came my way.
Now read John 17:6-26. It’s Jesus’ prayer for his disciplines and all of us that would come after and believe in him. He prays protection over us, maturity, that we would know him and know the Father but all connected to the fact that we would face trials, hard times and suffering. Jesus was the ultimate example of maturity and he wholeheartedly accepted suffering and trials.
The other week three families I know in our surrounding communities lost someone they loved. Two of them were young adults and the news came out of nowhere; one on Mother’s Day itself. I pray comfort over those families as they begin to process the very different future they had intended, one day at a time. At the same time I find myself hesitant to wish my own mom an excited Happy Mother’s Day! as she experiences her 2nd Mother’s Day without her first baby boy. She texted me a lovely and wonderful note a couple days before and then didn’t respond to my text I sent her on Mother’s Day itself. I imagine they escaped to the lake house for the weekend and she turned off the mobile devices to get away from life for a little. She’s an amazing woman, still working through trust and love with God, like many the rest of us. She has an incredible story but not mine to share today.
I went to one of the viewings. For the friend that lost his brother. I just couldn’t not go. It’s hard typing this now without suppressing the urge to cry. I feel both at peace in my soul and yet an arresting capacity to feel. For the first time in months I wept after leaving. I sat in my car for a few minutes afterwards and just sobbed. The kind where you can’t breath in between bursts of tears. I almost canceled the appointment I had after. And with both constant experiences of joy and sorrow happening around me I can’t believe the fullness I have to really feel life. Life shouldn’t be all emotions but they’re so much of what God equipped us with. Because I have been in such low places and have allowed God to heal, restore and work through me I haven’t hidden from trials. Maybe momentarily but not permanently. I have a higher level of emotional intelligence, a higher ability to connect and emote with people, and a much greater effectiveness in impacting the world around me. I want to continue to gain a wider and deeper understanding of God’s heart and character. That’s not going to come in this world without the ups and downs.
Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Romans 8:34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
And did you catch that? Your perfect Lord and Savior is contending for you right now. And by my watch he’s not giving up the fight for you or me, any time soon…