I wrote this meditation several months ago, but felt I should edit and share it again this week. Although we try everything we can to avoid unpleasant experiences in life, sometimes things go wrong: God allows us to go down a path more difficult than we ever expected. There are times that try our souls, they are so hard we come very close to buckling under the pressure of the pain and heartache. Sometimes, we just really suffer!
After his conversion, the Apostle Paul’s moral and ethical life was exemplary by anyones standards. He was also a prolific New Testament writer and a missionary trailblazer. Yet, Paul was shipwrecked, beaten on several occasions, almost stoned to death while doing God’s work, betrayed by his colleagues, and cast into prison. An unlikely set of experiences and outcomes for a man of notable integrity, did so much good work, who was a card carrying member of the privileged class and well educated by Gamaliel, one of the great thinkers of the day.
Sometimes, there are no adequate answers as to why we have to endure some of the more acute difficulties and heartaches in life. It is a mystery. We can, however, recognize we grow stronger because of them. This is also a mystery. And, it might be the only unobjectionable response to the harder realities that come our way. To use Paul as an example, his sufferings enhanced his sensitivities, molded his character, boosted his spirituality, and accelerated his good work in his lifetime and beyond. Paul acknowledged this mystery in his writings, through his weaknesses and not his strengths he became strong.
When I was growing up at my home church in Toledo Ohio, my pastor annually preached a sermon entitled Strength Comes Through Struggle. Pastor Kenzie even wrote a book with the same title. Through the years, I have been comforted by the thought of this sermon. Life is not always predictable and sometimes very difficult. Yet, we do become stronger through our heartaches and challenges. This may not always be enough for us, but it is what we have for now. When we pass through this life to the other side, it will be more clear why we went through so much strength training to build up our emotional and spiritual muscle in this life.
Joseph C. Hutchison, Rochester Hills, Michigan, 2020
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