Going Through It
“I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world, you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” John 16:33 ERV
Many people have heard the saying, “courage is not the absence of fear, but being afraid and proceeding anyway,” or some derivative of this. I would like to talk about this concept because I understand that how we cope with fear and uncertainty shapes
a large part of how we live our lives. If you’re like me, now more than ever, you might feel like you’re constantly waiting around for “better days” “As soon as I get this job…as soon as I quit, then I’ll be in a better place”. “When I get/leave this significant other, I’ll be in a more stable and peaceful place.” “Once we get past this season, this pay period, this current boss, work will be less stressful.” Sound familiar? Why do we spend our whole lives trying to power through the tough things to move on to the next fear or worry? Well, it’s only natural to want things to go our way and to try and prevent ourselves from getting hurt as much as possible. It’s not wrong to try and find your way out of a difficult season or to avoid things that trigger us, but what if the way we cope today makes it even harder to cope tomorrow?
Situations that require us to be vulnerable or bring us to a place of surrender are often used by God as teaching opportunities If you know the Bible, you might have seen verses explaining that tribulation builds our character and faith. This isn’t God’s way of saying that hardships are all part of some big test or that He desires for you to have hardships. As we have discussed in the past weeks, the Lord wants us to use the pain and uncertainty not to feel ashamed and convicted but as an opportunity to put aside our pride and surrender to Him. We constantly pray about everyday issues and anxieties but get used to coping with other issues and emotional baggage. God wired our minds to look for ways to cope with hardship naturally, but it can sometimes result in us living with blinders on. We can get so used to coping with stress we avoid things that could create growth. We can become so numb and used to avoiding our issues that the thought of seeking God seems pointless. In these situations, the times when we have been doing everything to cope rather than feel the difficult feelings or expose the root issues, the times when we don’t want to talk about it, the Lord gives us opportunities to “flex our faith muscles.”
The season you’re in and the perspective you keep can make it seem like some issues have a quick lesson, while other issues and traumas feel like they might plague you forever. Why do some types of pain seem to keep giving, and the harder seasons of life seem to keep going? I’ve come to understand two things concerning these issues; first, God typically does not move you out of season or situation because there is more He wants you to learn from it. Second is that the actual lesson and the actual fruits are always more than we can imagine for ourselves. In the past, I always thought that I knew what lesson God wanted me to learn, but by the time the chapter is closed, I would see that meaningful change probably wouldn’t happen if I had tried to jump ship any earlier. It never ceases to amaze me how only God knows what changes must happen. And when God is the one that turns it around, what doesn’t kill you not only makes you stronger, but it strengthens everyone around you in ways that only God knows.
When we pad and buffer everything we are afraid of happening and waste time trying to control outcomes, we never get to flex our faith muscle. If you attempt to power through your issues and keep protecting yourself from digging deep, that thing does not disappear. It’s natural to want to fix and control things in our lives, trying to make them go away, but we come to a point where the results we keep getting only skim the surface of the issue. Processing our feelings and understanding our negative feelings rather than trying to protect and hide them can seem scary and uncomfortable, but the pain that plays out from processing those negative or unknown feelings is necessary to grow. God doesn’t want to see you get hurt repeatedly to learn the lesson of that season. After we learn to surrender our problems, that doesn’t mean we will have no worries or pain from that situation. It takes hope and faith in the Lord Jesus to walk on water and not drown. It takes the grace of God to help us be patient through the storm. Ask God for the grace to give up what we can’t control, the courage to stop running from or skimming over our deeper issues, and to open the eyes of our hearts so that we might see what the larger lesson is that God wants you to learn.
Lord, please help me live in the present so I can live through the lessons you are teaching me and be perceptive to the things you are showing me. Amen.