There is No Victory Without the Struggle
“Hard is often the vehicle Jesus uses to meet us, point us to the peace, and teach us grace.” – Kara Tippetts, The Hardest Peace
It blows my mind how universal it is that the hardest chapters of our stories are so often the ones in which we grow and learn the most. I wish it weren’t that way, but it seems to simply be the way life works.
When I asked my Facebook friends the other day to tell me what have been some of the most impactful stories they have ever read/watched/experienced/participated in, I immediately heard personal stories of heartbreak, loss, and challenge. It seems the times we remember most vividly are often the most painful. It isn’t that we don’t remember the good and great times, it’s just that our dark times were so dang painful that we can’t get them out of our minds or shake them out of our souls. They left us with scars we can never forget because of how deeply they altered us.
And the crazy thing is— although not one of us would want to relive those painful, dark times because to voluntarily relive the ache would be sadistic, I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t at least partially grateful for all she learned and all the ways she grew and matured through those dark seasons.
A few months after her mother had been diagnosed with cancer, author and speaker Jen Hatmaker declared that “When life is hard, you find out if [God] is good. You want it to be true in the day but you find out if it’s true in the night. You find out if He’s good… And… He’s good,” she stated. “I would venture to say He’s even better when it’s bad” (spoken at the 2016 IF: Gathering).
I have found this to be true as well.
Although I would never want to relive my parents’ divorce when I was 19 years old, or the time when I found out that my first love had been cheating on me for months, or when I bloodied the toilet with what was supposed to have been my third baby… I can’t help but treasure all I learned through those seasons of loss and grief and brokenness. Through my parents’ divorce I learned how very good God was and how much He was on my side and capable of caring for me despite the fact that my world as I knew it was crumbling around me. Through my first heartbreak from a boy I discovered how strong and determined and genuinely God-hungry I really was— and, once again, how capable and tender God was in mending my broken heart. Through my miscarriage, I stumbled upon an empathy for others I could have never known had I not experienced a loss and subsequent Depression like that myself. And, again, I met God in a whole new, life-giving way during that trial.
And through it all, I never felt closer to God, more “held” by God, or more loved by Him than in all my carefree moments combined. It’s when I am truly desperate for Him that I recognize His true goodness, grace, and provision in a whole new way.
So yes: the tense and painful and even horrific moments of our stories are unbearable and not one of us wants to endure those. I doubt any of us would volunteer for hardship. Yet— when we do limp through those seasons— I am confident that we will grow and discover God and learn more about ourselves and about the world than we could ever experience any other way.
And though I’d give anything to have an unbroken family of origin, an un-trampled-on heart, and a never-lost-a-child womb… I know God has used each one of these losses, and all the other hardships I’ve weathered, to grow me into who I am today. Each ding, each chip, each broken piece of my life and my heart and my journey have led me into a deeper intimacy with and trust in God than I could have ever had if I had lived in unscathed Utopia all my life.
So, Lord: Thank You for this life You have given me. I appreciate so much how You have brought me through my dark times, my challenges, my times of loss, and even my times of joy and abundance. Although of course I prefer the seasons of abundance and joy rather than those of loss and grief, I thank You that You are with me through it all. No matter what I have gone through or what is yet to come, You are with me. You love me. And You have my best in mind. Thank You for that truth. I love you, Lord. Amen.
[This is Day 2 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. This year my focus is on the role of STORY in our lives. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
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What about you?
In what ways have you grown as a result of some of the darker seasons of your life? What lessons did you learn that you never could have learned had you not traveled through those shadowy valleys?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.