It doesn’t take much to find sources of frustration or discouragement these days. Growing up as a kid in the ‘70s and ’80s, we had four main channels on the television for entertainment. It was a major breakthrough in 1986 when the Fox channel became a new source of entertainment with shows like The Simpsons and In Living Color.
Today, we have thousands of channels to choose from…literally. Each with a little something for every interest on the planet. However, if you haven’t noticed, each channel also capitalizes on our human interest in tragedy. We learn from a very young age that no matter how innocent the protagonist, there will always be an antagonist. Sometimes the antagonist reveals themselves as a one-time threat and at other times they can have a relentless and unforgiving presence in the protagonist’s life.
In the story of our lives, the antagonist can sometimes irritate and disrupt us so often that it feels like we are certain to die from a thousand cuts, while at other times one blow is so devastating that finding the will to stand back up seems like an impossible task. And sometimes, if we are honest, we learn that we are the “monster at the end of the book” who has caused all of our pain and anxiety (a quality 6-minute read for any parent).
Through these embattled times what I have learned is the power of having a deeper relationship with Christ. In facing all that life is certain to throw at us, the Bible teaches us not only to expect there to be extremely hard times but also that God will be faithful.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” - 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV
Growing up as a minority in the Midwest, life was far from easy. The number of tragedies, injustices, and obstacles that I faced, based solely on the color of my skin, were too numerous to count. But in finding my identity in Christ, I was not only able to endure the trials, but I was able to thrive. To achieve. To inspire. Because His word provided me with direction and sense of purpose, I was able to not only better understand the path that lay before me, but I could also learn from the hardships that lie behind me.
Similar to weight training, when you use the bench press or do pushups you are actually breaking down your muscles. God’s design is that every time you break down that muscle, through training, the muscle repairs itself and becomes stronger. Believe it or not, the same occurs with our faith. When we are broken down and have nothing more than God to rely upon on…and that is when your faith is strengthened.
Therefore, in these times of chaos and uncertainty, I would encourage you to remember that despite all you have endured, every tear, every loss… you are still here. You are still fighting. You are still growing stronger in your faith. And as you continue to grow, your ability to impact His kingdom will grow with you.