For those of you out there that are going through hard times that are so painful you cannot see a light ahead of you, first know that you are NOT alone! For some of us, our hardships last days, weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime. We can find ourselves giving all that we have and hoping for a break, but instead we still have to keep fighting to move forward each and every step because the hardship just doesn’t end. I’ve often heard over and over again, “If you do what is right you will be blessed.” Seriously?!? WHEN?!?
A couple of years ago, Nate and I were on a lunch date, just enjoying life for a moment before having to get back to work. We decided to grab a dessert on the way out. After standing in line for less than a minute and car came crashing through the restaurant just missing us by a foot and a half. Was it a blessing that we weren’t hurt? Or were we just lucky? There were folks that were hurt, but gratefully no one died. For those that were hurt, were those individuals not blessed? Or is that just how life is at times, and crazy things just happen?
Image via Star Tribune
Have you ever heard someone say something to the effect of, “I am so blessed because my child has never broken a bone.” Well, what about all the people who have broken a bone? Were they not blessed? What if it was simply an accident? And what if the kind, thoughtful person who really tries to to do “everything right” is suddenly paralyzed as the result of an injury? Are they not blessed? I’ve also heard many folks say, “There is a reason for this, and they just need to learn from this experience.” What?!? Can you really say that to someone who is paralyzed and hooked up to a feeding tube for the rest of their life? What are you learning?!? I have an uncle who has had to bury three of his seven children. Was he not blessed? Were other families that only lost a single child, or never lost a family member more blessed? Did God hear their prayers for health and safety, but not hear the prayers of my uncle’s family?
Image via www.stuffyoushouldknow.com
For the past fifteen years I’ve been praying for two simple desires. I’m not talking grand, expensive, material things. I’ll keep those prayers to myself. But, I’ve been trying to do everything “right.” I really go out of my way to continually critique myself and better myself hoping for a better tomorrow. I’ve simply been praying for my situation to change. But more difficult, exhausting and challenging things keep being added to my plate. What’s up with that?!? Is it God’s will that I have these difficulties? Is it His will that nations go to war, or that a volcano buries a village in ash, or that a child loses her mother to cancer? And when God gives us what we’ve been asking for does that mean we are blessed and our prayers have been answered? Is God like Santa Claus, just giving amazing gifts to good little girls and boys, while sending coal to the kids on the naughty list?
What does it mean to be blessed? I’ve been pondering this. Here’s what I’ve come to realize:
Life happens! It just does! I really don’t believe God points his finger at folks and say’s, “Okay, your turn for some tragedy,” or, “You’ve been dealing with this difficulty for a while, so, now I’m going to give you a break (or not give you a break).” I don’t believe that one bit. For some, this life will be REALLY challenging sometimes, or even most of the time. For others, they’ll just have little difficulties here and there. Life is not fair. Is there something to working hard and trying to make good choices and staying out of trouble? Absolutely! We have a great deal of control over some bad consequences, and we should do our very best to avoid situations that will cause us unnecessary pain or suffering. But some negative circumstances are simply beyond our control.
Does that mean that it is God’s will that we suffer? When I suffer, am I not blessed?
Image via Rembrandt’s religious etchings
Was it the will of God the Father, that His Son should suffer?
I believe that God sent a Savior to the earth in the humblest of ways. Christ came into the world and lived a simple life. He was the very definition of perfect as we learn from the scriptures, obedient, charitable, loving and forgiving. He was loved by some and hated by many more. His life was anything but easy. He dealt with betrayal, temptation, hunger, thirst and fatigue. He was spit upon, wrongfully accused, whipped, beaten and nailed to a cross. But most importantly before his death he went to a garden and prayed and during that time he payed for the sins of all God’s children. He experienced our physical and mental pains. He took upon himself the weight of the sin and suffering of world so that he can help us carry our heavy burdens. We can pray for forgiveness and through him be cleansed and move forward. It is even mentioned in the scriptures that he called upon his Father in Heaven to have this experience removed from him. Christ being the most perfect being that ever lived, did not want to suffer for our sins if there was another way, but what was most important to Him was doing His Father’s will. He had to do it, even when he didn’t want to. But He did it, and in doing so overcame sin and death. So I ask, given all his suffering, was Christ blessed?
The answer is yes. During his ministry and life, through each hardship he was being blessed with stamina, grit, endurance, charity, forgiveness and love. To put it simply, he learned how to endure life and endure it well. Instead of being angry at those that had wronged him and those that sentenced him to death, he asked his Father to, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
You see, while I felt that I had been dealt a bad hand in life, I realized this whole time as I continued to pound it out, even when I felt that physically and mentally I couldn’t do it anymore, the heart breaking reality was I still needed to do it and keep moving. All that time I was being blessed and my prayers were being answered, just not in the way that I wanted at the time. He blessed me with endurance and strength. My blessing was the gift of stamina and grit to keep going. My blessing was the gift of being able to forgive and love again. Knowing this has made me not feel afraid anymore.
This past November my oldest son had a seizure. Since then, he has had three more. Rather then getting worked up, we continue to move forward getting him the care that he needs and hoping for the best. Knowing that there is nothing else I can do at this time, I can honestly say I am calm and aware that no matter what happens, whether it’s epilepsy or something else, I know with certainty that my prayers will be answered and I will be blessed with strength, stamina and grit no matter what is placed in my path.
If you are asking to have a trial taken away or you’re praying to get that job or promotion you so desperately deserve, He knows already what’s in your heart. Instead, try asking for:
- Stamina to keep going no matter the end result.
- Grit, even when it’s so painful or uncomfortable you can’t stand it.
- Forgiveness, even when the very thought of that person makes you ache.
- Selflessness, even when you don’t have a moment to your self.
- Unconditional love, for those who do not love you in return.
So, I have a new motto:
Accept and Adjust
My trials haven’t magically gone away, but the weight has been lifted and my burdens have been made light.