Let’s be honest. Life is hard.
There are 2 kinds of things that happen to you:
1. Things you can’t control.
2. Things you can control.
This is what’s known as the “Circle of Influence.”
The things you can control are inside the circle.
The things you can’t control are outside of it.
Whether you cause it or not, whether you control it or not, sometimes things happen that are hard.
The question is:
What do you do when life gets hard?
In baseball, it’s called a curveball. Everyone can hit a fastball.
What’s hard is hitting a curveball.
The difference between a Major League player and a Minor League player is that a Major League player can hit a curveball. Everyone can hit a fastball, but the Major Leaguers can hit the curveball too.
The students who have faith that lasts are able to handle hard times. They’re the ones who are able to trust God no matter what happens.
So many people – students in particular – shut down and bottle it up when life gets hard and things don’t go their way. They try to handle it alone or – even worse – they act like the problem and the hurt don’t exist. They live in DENIAL.
Denial is when you experience reality that you don’t acknowledge.
You smile. You say you’re fine. Maybe you are. Or maybe you’re in denial.
My daughter isn’t in denial.
She was born with a cataract in her left eye and nystagmus in both eyes. The surgery to remove the cataract created scar tissue that left her with glaucoma.
She isn’t allowed to participate in certain activities because of the potential damage it could do to her eyes. One of those activities is gymnastics. But she loves gymnastics. She jumps and twists and tumbles all over the house. She wants nothing more than to take a real gymnastics class. The doctor said she can’t.
A few nights ago, we were talking about it at dinner. My daughter said that she wanted to do gymnastics. We said it’s isn’t going to happen. She started crying and said, “I’m mad at God for making me this way.”
As a dad, it was like a punch to the gut. My wife’s eyes filled with tears.
Later that night, my wife and I talked. And it struck me that my daughter’s comment was a good and healthy thing. She feels hurt. She feels pain. She should feel free to express it. It would be a bad thing if she didn’t express that sense of loss.
I think it’s actually an articulation of faith.
The go-to place in the Bible to see this articulation of faith over against denial is the book of Lamentations.
I say, “articulation of faith,” because in expressing your anger, hurt, loss, pain, guilt, and shame, you’re giving it over to God and trusting him to do something meaningful with it.
It might have been some time since you’ve read the book of Lamentations, but here’s what I want you to know: Chronologically, it falls between Isaiah 39 and 40.
Here’s how it works:
Isaiah 1-39 says that exile is coming; dreaming are dying.
“‘The time is coming when everything in your palace – all the treasures you stored up by your ancestors until now – will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 39:6).
Lamentations is the 5-chapter book that asks, “Why? How long? When will it end?”
“Jerusalem’s gates have sunk into the ground. [God] has smashed their locks and bars. Her kings and princes have been exiled to distant lands; her law has ceased to exist. Her prophets receive no more visions from the LORD” (Lamentations 3:9).
The whole book is a cry for God’s comfort.
Then Isaiah 40:1 comes back in. It begins, “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God.” It goes on to describe the ways that God is working to bring hope back to his people.
In other words, restoration is coming. Comfort is on the way. New life is possible.
Do you see the sequence?
Hurt –> Articulation of Faith –> Hope
Here’s the bottom line:
Don’t hide your hurt.
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