Why is it so hard?
About five months ago, I tried to come alongside two young men who just lost their father due to a sudden heart attack. The process needed to be gentle, and I thought I was making some headway, when, a week before Christmas, I learned that their grandmother was in the hospital after suffering a stroke. At 4:29pm on Christmas Day, their grandmother went home to be with her Lord and Savior and was laid to rest on New Year’s Eve Day. If that wasn’t enough, a call this past weekend came with the news that the mother of these young men died suddenly in their home and was laid to rest today. What words do I speak to these boys to help ease their pain? What phrases of ‘God’s love’ do I share in the midst of such unimaginable pain? Why is life so hard at times?
Of all the mysteries I’ve reflected on over the past year, probably the most significant is why is the greatest potential for growth directly related to when struggle is the greatest? I was reminded of this in Genesis 32 in the man of Jacob who faced a number of struggles in his journey to be the man God wanted Jacob to become. The reason? Mostly pride… disregarding what God wanted for his life and focusing on being his own man. But I suspect that each of us faces similar struggles… thinking that our way is better than God’s way.
However, it is this very line of reasoning that gets us into the most trouble! Looking within ourselves to answer those very difficult questions of life… Why did that plane crash? Why doesn’t God stop catastrophes? Why does God allow suffering when He advocates love?
Even though we accept struggle as a part of life, we still question its value, its purpose. The good news is that in all of life’s struggle, God is there and is ready to offer Himself to those who desire it. In order to prepare ourselves to receive God, some principles should be considered.
One method of preparation is getting alone with God rather than relying too heavily on the prayers of others to intercede on our behalf. Genesis 32:24 finds Jacob being left alone, and there, wrestled a man with him until the breaking of day. When we get alone with God, we’re better able to hear His still small voice. Getting authentic with God is another method of preparation… being honest and open with God, that we don’t settle for anything less than Him. And lastly, getting amended by God… making the choice to allow change to happen. Making God the central focal point in our lives can make all the difference.
Reflecting back over these past few months and my desire to come alongside these young men… I feel so useless… I don’t have the right words that can make any measurable difference right now. So in the midst of this struggle, I’ve committed to being alone with God and being authentic with my intentions for coming alongside these young men by demonstrating God’s love in my actions which, done properly, should be the physical manifestation of His Word. Perhaps, using this approach, these young men will come to know of God’s love in a way that trumps any verbal expression to know of God’s ability to use these circumstances to turn ashes into beauty.