~A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. -Chinese Proverb
Then next chapter is entitled, "...But God".
Life is hard..... But God is good
Life is unpredictable..... But God is sovereign
Life is unfair..... But God is just
Life is short..... But God is eternal
....so, our car broke down again last weekend. The car from the road trip vacation in this post. Don't you hate car trouble? For me, it represents one of the things I hate the most.... something that can totally impact my life, but which I have zero control over. It is a reminder that I can make good choices, strive to live my life in the right way, and still have troubles.
This is something I have been reminded of several other times during my life. Like when I was trying to get pregnant, and struggled with infertility, then miscarriages, then ectopic pregnancies. Or when my eldest son was hospitalized for seizures, of an unknown origin, for 10 days. And again when we went to take Christopher home from above mentioned hospital stay, just to find that our only functional vehicle had been stolen out of the hospital parking lot. (Our other car's engine had blown up the week prior).
Life is hard, unpredictable, unfair, short. It can filled with unexpected trials that we don't deserve. Things that make us feel sad, angry, frightened. I know this is true. We can also go through hard times that are of our own making. I know all too well, that this is also true.
......But God is good, sovereign, just, eternal. He can use the sometimes irritating, occasionally devastating events that come into our lives to change us, to sharpen us, to keep us close to Him. Sometimes the hard things, the things that we would choose to avoid if we had the power, shape us like nothing else could. There are times when hardship and adversity bring about character and strength in a way that smooth sailing and successful times cannot. I know, from personal experience, that this is true.
So, back to our car. I have no idea why it keeps breaking down. I DO know that it's mostly annoying and stressful, occasionally funny (in a "you have to joke about it because what else can you do?" kind of way) and always expensive. After spending the better part of the last week fretting about how little control I have over life in general, it occurred to me late last night that God can use even this to strengthen me, make me more able to serve Him and glorify Him. Maybe even help me to shed some pride and self-sufficiency.
Can I tell you something? I don't like shedding pride and self-sufficiency. They make me feel comfortable. They make me feel safe. But I know that the comfort and safety I get from depending on myself is like the safety you get from a seat belt in an airplane. Sure, it can keep you from falling out of your seat in turbulence. Just like being a strong person may help you avoid some of life's calamity. But if you crash in an airplane....well..... the seat belt isn't going to do you much good. Similarly, you will go through trials in life that will cause you to come to the end of yourself, your resources, your strength. That's when you find real strength. The kind God gives.
Jesus says in John, chapter 16, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
Now that's something to hope in, to give us courage. Jesus' words are a well from which we can draw strength. We know how it's all going to end up, and it's good. Even if we can't predict or control the present. And we can't. (Believe me, I've tried)
So, press on. Run the race. Keep the faith.
That's what I'm going to do too. :)