It has been an emotional rollercoaster since we lost Squiggles. Even when we have a good day, our emotions ambush us. Crying “it hurts”, as tears stream into the pillow as I fall asleep. Times like this are the proving grounds for our faith.
The Proving Ground
This thought chased me for two weeks. It started in class while studying Philippians, noting Paul’s attitude in prison. A story from experience came up, and the advice that was given to one person was, ‘your actions now will either invalidate or validate, everything you’ve taught the last few months.‘
It reminded me of Dr. Tripp’s quote in a GriefShare video on whether you Sunday theology matches your Tuesday theology. Between the two, I had some thinking to do.
I thought of Job when Satan told God it’s easy to follow someone in the good and easy times. Isn’t there some truth to that? Think of fair weather friends and bandwagon fans. It’s when it gets hard that your integrity is proved.
At a bit of a loss, I would sing two songs, every day. They were my prayer.
What To Do?
The next Sunday in class, this verse hit me right between the eyes.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Whatever happens, good or bad. Why is that even important? That answer came an hour later in service. On my outline:
In my darkest hour, my testimony is revealed. Other people are watching to see how I react to difficulty.
It hit home. My life as a Christ-Follower began after a tragedy, and is now being proved in loss. People desperately want something or someone to trust in, and when they see it, they want to know how can continue under the circumstances.
An Opportunity To Grow
You can grow from this, and aren’t alone in it. My friend, Daisy, opened up a GriefShare session talking about ‘walking through the valley of the shadow of death’. Through it, not staying in it. That’s the 23rd Psalm, and in the same sentence is, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
It doesn’t feel good right now. I’m remembering that Christianity is about a Savior and Lord who suffered. Jesus can more than identify with us.
Paul and James wrote about what can come of it.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
What word appeared both times?
Perseverance. Suffering strengthens and toughens us, building character and maturity. Hope develops.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Take an eternal perspective. We assume we’ll get about 80 years, and hate anything that makes it more difficult. It messes with our limited time frame until it’s permanent lights out.
That perspective does mess up our happiness. On top of that, you’re not even guaranteed tomorrow. Let that sink in.
However, what if that 80 years is part of an eternal life? That is less than a split-second of pain in light of joy forever. It doesn’t compare.
It Sucks, But Not Forever
Yes, this sucks. I’ve seen five people I know die this year. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, follow this passage:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5