I lead a group of high school juniors in a discipleship group. We’ve been together nearly 5 years now, and that hour and a half has become one of the highlights of my week. Brittany, Casey, Emily, Kailey, Savanna and I know each other intimately; we trust each other implicitly. Truly a picture of community as Jesus talked about.
We’re currently studying our way through Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus by Mary DeMuth. This book has been such a tremendous blessing in my life that I wanted my girls to get to learn from Mary’s solid teachings–and painful challenges about our complacency in our cozy Christian walk.
Today, we will discuss Chapter 6–Practice Resilience. In it, Mary shares her disdain for the misuse of the oft-quoted Jeremiah 29:11. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Mary reminds students of Scripture that “Hananiah didn’t remember that God often acts counterintuitively to our desired outcome. He disciplines the ones He loves” (Everything, page 57).
All too often, we Christ-followers want to live a life of joy, peace, happiness and protection from all adversity. Want the truth? Mary says, “God puts us through more than we can bear. Because after we journey through those places, we learn resilience. And that resilience brings the ability to joyfully live in the moment despite our circumstances–a holy paradox” (Everything, page 57, emphasis mine).
People go through terrible, awful, painful-gut-wrenching trials this side of heaven:
- Death of a child
- Death of a spouse
- Financial ruin
- Job loss
- Miscarriage & infertility
- Marital crisis
- Sexual abuse
In truth, this list goes on and on–as we get to “lesser” trials, such as a nasty boss, car problems and loss of friendship. Doesn’t matter how bad or awful the list gets. Each of these painful challenges grow us. Each provides us with an opportunity to showcase the one, true, living God and proclaim his power, strength, love and care. Each reminds us that we can’t travel this journey alone–no matter how strong we think we might be.
And in my estimation, that’s the true point of all of this. If we were strong, if we could pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, if we could soothe our own pain and deal with all our problems ourselves, we wouldn’t need a Savior.
So where have you desperately needed God this past week, last month, last year? Where has he shown himself completely capable, unwaiveringly faithful, utterly strong?