I have a confession to make. I don’t like hard things. For someone who has long been an avid reader of the Harris twins’ blog The Rebelution and book Do Hard Things, the necessity of such an admission is both humbling and sobering. First, let me say that, as I enjoy a final semester at Erskine and look back on my wonderful years here, it is imminently clear to me how very richly the Lord has blessed me. As a sinful human being, however, I quickly forget my first love, and so, when a painful trial makes an entrance, I often discover just how unsanctified I actually am.
If there’s anything that tends to turn our eyes toward eternity, it is experiencing some sort of acute discomfort or suffering here on this earth. Whether our trial is emotional, physical, spiritual, or relational, a situation that causes us to—at least for a short time—feel that earthly happiness is simply unattainable is an incredibly effective tool that the Lord often uses to cause us to long for heaven. With regard to this truth, Colossians 3:1-4 is a verse I’ve been meditating on lately: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory.”
For the believer experiencing a trial of some sort, such verses provide both comfort and great hope. When I find myself responding to hard things with bitterness, asking the Lord, “Why, why?” I know both that He is big enough for me to ask the honest, emotionally raw questions and that such a response, though natural enough, does not honor Him if it’s where I remain. It’s easy to become comfortable and complacent when our lives seem to be going just as we’d planned and we feel fairly in control of our circumstances. Such a state of apathy and illusory self-sufficiency, however, is not one with which the Christian ought ever to be content. We are called to something higher, greater, and richer, by the grace of the One who is faithful never to leave us where we are.
I love this quote of Elisabeth Elliot’s: “Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering. The love of God did not protect His own Son. The was the proof of His love – that He gave that Son, that He let Him go to Calvary’s cross, though ‘legions of angels’ might have rescued Him. He will not necessarily protect us—not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” How I resonate with her words! I recognize in myself that limited vision of which she speaks, but I am also inexpressibly thankful for the God of comfort who is loving and compassionate, even as He molds and shapes us (II Corinthians 1:3-5).