Our culture can’t resist a tragic ending. It feasts on what could have been, those moments in which life stories could have been altered through an impossible amount of micro-managing.
The what if? question tears open the stitches of time and has us poke the wounds of the past, torturing ourselves with the cheap hope that lingering in the rearview mirror can reshape what has already been done. Others bypass the rearview mirror altogether, never pondering that their yesterdays inevitably set the table for their tomorrows.
Either method brings one to despair, especially those who suffer. You can be suffering from physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual pain—it all douses one with the same sort of decay.
For Christians who undergo prolonged seasons of suffering, there’s a dissonance that begins to develop within their faith. They know that God will neither leave nor forsake them—and that all of His promises are “yea” and “amen”—yet the unspeakable joy and hope in Christ appear to be flickering candlelights amidst a thick fog of shadows.
If there’s one scrap of wisdom I’ve gained in this world, it’s that tragedies furnish us with every reason to give in. In fact, we have every right to retire from the struggle. We can accommodate ourselves and spend a lifetime with a far-off look in our eyes, warning those around us that, “This world will break your heart.”
We can spend our days robbing the graves of lives, wondering what we could have done if it, whatever tragedy it may be, did not happen to us. Lost years, opportunities, and lack of instruction provide us with a waiver to sleepwalk through future years of heartache.
Yet the good news found in Christ’s resurrection compels us to depart from fate—to rescind our right to depart into the belief that, since tragedy has befallen us, we might as well accept we’re snakebitten and bow our heads to cold destiny.
The question becomes, “Why is it that we suffer so, and are called to consider our trials with pure joy (James 1:2-4)?”
Somehow, the suffering is co-opted by God, and it produces a cobalt steel faith and ultra marathon endurance. To those in the midst of tragedy, it seems all a bit cliché, especially when it’s quoted by those who don’t appear to understand.
But therein lies the untold story of this particular cliche: it may seem worn out from overuse, but those who overuse it are the ones who merely speak about it, caught in the cycle of revisiting it as if it were an old friend, never tasting its fulfillment. The clichés will exhaust themselves when the redemptive power of Christ’s blood loses its bite—which should have us quit checking our watches.
Suffering shoves us into dark corners, places in our spirits where torment leaves unyielding voicemails of misery. To contemplate surrender doesn’t taint your honor, it only strips you down to what you really put your hope in. Lots of people mouth off about “finding out who they really are,” but if they actually knew in advance, it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience.
For believers, the light of Christ still quivers in these dark corners. Each of us tucks away the hope that Christ will one day ride in to save the day in one fell swoop. Little do they know, God is hiding them in the darkness—His anointed-in-training—hewing them into lighthouses for His glory even as they are unaware.
Moses should have been another casualty of Pharaoh’s post-birth abortion plan, yet he was raised in the Egyptian court—the very place where he would call for Pharaoh to let his people go. Joseph was thrown in a pit, solid into slavery, and unjustly thrown into prison, yet God called him out of the dungeon’s bowels to serve His will. David was pursued by Saul and hidden amongst the wilderness caves even after his anointing, but he remained faithful and served as a righteous king. Even Jesus was hidden, born in a stable and raised as a carpenter, and look how he served His Father! Those who are suffering now, know that God has a purpose for you to serve at the end of your pain.
Satan always makes a critical mistake when he foments torment in the lives of God’s children or opportunistically whispers seeds of doubt during times of tragedy. He triggers a reservoir of faith in these believers that has yet to be drawn from. The dark corners he presses us into are the very hidden places where God prepares us to fix our eyes on the Light of Life, Jesus. He’s the one who uses these dark corners as flint, so that when we are struck, a spark of faith is kindled. It’s up to us whether we blow on the coals or watch the spark extinguish.
Kevin Cochrane is a 20 year-old writer with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with exposed ears to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. For updates on his latest blog posts here at restandrefuge.wordpress.com, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find me on Facebook under “Kevin Cochrane,” or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email. Want to read more? Check him out at themajestysmen.com/author/kevincochrane, a friendship and mentoring community for Christian males (views on my blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com are my own and do not necessarily represent those of The Majesty’s Men). To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.