Summary: How do I make it through all of life’s struggles without killing myself, or someone else, in the process?
My brother-in-law is building a cabin in New Mexico. He decided to do the general contracting himself to save some money. What he’s finding out is that it’s not worth it. General contractors don’t make enough to compensate for the headaches they deal with. What David is experiencing is the construction version of Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong when you’re building a house. Getting the loan was easy. Buying the lot was easy. Starting the project was easy. Finishing, on the other hand, without committing murder, is proving to be much harder. It’s like what most of us experience, to one degree or another - life is hard! It seems impossible to get ahead of the game. Many people seem destined to live life from one crisis to another.
As we wrap up this series on Faith, I want to end with a message on finishing. I would like to address questions like; “How do I make it through all of life’s struggles without killing myself, or someone else, in the process? – Is it always this hard? – Will it get any easier? What do I do, how do I respond, when nothing seems to go my way?”
Bring It On?
James 1:2-4 - Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. 3 For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.1
Ok, let’s be honest. James had to be smoking something right? I mean really, “whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy”, what kind of bull is that? “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”? What do you want me to do James; look at life and all the problems and pain it has to offer and shout – BRING IT ON?
I signed up to Christianity because it promised to more quickly fulfill the American dream. Isn’t God related to Uncle Sam? Don’t we have certain unalienable rights? Kind of a spiritual right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
The disconnection with this verse occurs with our purpose in life. If my life goals have to do with my happiness and I see Christianity as part of that happiness, then my theology and philosophy of life will be affected by that. I’m going to camp out on verses relating to freedom, joy (not this one of course), and abundant life. Pretty soon, abundance, happiness and success will be things that I not only expect God to provide but things He owes me. Trouble, trials, pain and suffering are things to be avoided and prayed against not embraced.
But, if "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever", then trouble, trials and suffering play a big role. There are so many things that distract us from what Paul calls “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ”. Pain and suffering have a way of exposing those distractions and forcing simplicity. Margaret Becker has a theory that most sickness is our body’s way of telling us to slow down. Pain and suffering also have a way of forcing us to more fully rely on God (if we let them), thus strengthening our faith. So, let me say again, if "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever", then trouble, trials and suffering can and probably will play a big role.
Let me try to illustrate this.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of cycling. The last five our six years have not been friendly to my waistline. So, I needed to do some aerobic exercise. Something I have always hated. About ten years ago, though, my father-in-law got me hooked on cycling.
Now as Lance Armstrong can testify to, the wind can be the competitive cyclist’s greatest enemy; second only to hills. If the wind is in your face, it slows you down and saps your strength.
In my riding, the wind usually hits me one of three ways:
Wind in my face on the way out
If I have to ride in the wind, this is how I want to do it. Because, if the wind is in my face on the way out, then on the way home it will be at my back. After riding half way, when I am beginning to get tired, I get to turn around and blow home. That’s what I keep telling myself all the way out. “Just keep going because you’re going to get to turn around soon”.
Wind in my face on the way home