Saturday, September 5, 2015

When Life Hands You Lemons... Grab a Pen

We've all had those days when it seems like life beats you down at every turn. Like nothing is going right and no matter what we try, we can't seem to come out on top. Like we're drowning, the air pressing in on us, our chests constricting under the weight of our problems.

Maybe for you it's been more than a day. It's been a month. A year. Ten years.

And you just can't see what good could possibly come of your suffering.

All you can think is: "God, what are you doing?!"

No, wait, don't go. It's okay. You can admit it. Remember the first words I wrote up there? We've all had those days. All. Every single one of us, whether we admit it or not. Whether we choose to remember or not.

See, that's part of the problem: remembering. We are such fickle, short-sighted people. During a trial, we can't see past our problems. Afterwards, we immediately forget what we went through. It's like... a mirror. When we stare our problems in the face, they're all we see- the pits and blemishes glaringly obvious. But after they pass, we leave the mirror and immediately forget what it was like. Or we have a distorted memory of it that is either better- or worse- than it actually was because the more we remember it the more it changes. It turns from a vivid memory to a garbled memory of a memory.

To me, that is a travesty of the worst kind. Forgetting (almost) anything we went through to the point that the details are no longer clear and we shove it into the back of the junk drawer of our minds. Because, my dear friends, those memories aren't junk!

In fact, those are the memories we should never forget! 

"How can you say that?" you ask. "My dad died, my dog ran away, and I found out I have cancer- all in one year! If anyone has a right to forget, it's me."

No! No, you don't!

Please don't think I'm being insensitive here. It's true that all those things were difficult, and my heart breaks for you. But just because they were hard, doesn't mean we have a right to deprive others of our experiences.

What would the Bible be like if no one had shared their experiences with the next generation? We'd probably have the first chapter of Genesis. And that would be it. What if David hadn't taken the time to record the lowest points in his life through song? We wouldn't have the powerful comfort of the Psalms. What if the disciples had decided watching their Savior being tortured and brutally killed had been "too hard to remember"? We'd never know about our greatest source of comfort: Jesus. And what if Luke had decided writing Acts was not "all that important"? We wouldn't have the inspiring examples of faith to encourage us during our darkest moments.

What if they all just decided to forget?

Where would your faith, your comfort be?

Where would passages like the following be?:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort." -2 Corinthians 1:3-7
 See that? No? Then let me ask you: why did Paul embrace his "afflictions" (problems, sufferings, persecutions)? For you! For me! For everybody who would ever read this letter he so painstakingly dictated. Then why shouldn't we take a page out of his book and do the same?

Maybe when you're in the midst of those difficult times and can't see what good will come of it, you don't feel like sharing. Write it down anyway. Write down every angry, faithless, confused, questioning thought. Plead with God for help. Write what Scripture passages encourage you in that dark time. Eventually, when the memory has grown distant and faded, you can pull it out and read it through, marveling at what God has done. Now write how God has used that suffering for His glory. Praise Him for His sovereignty and grace. Then find the courage to share it. Maybe you don't have a blog of a million followers to share with. Give it to your best friend who's having a hard time. Give it to a young person in your Bible class who is experiencing something similar. Give it to anyone the Lord stirs your heart toward. 

Give it in written form. Give it verbally. Give it in the mailbox. Give it over coffee. Give it to your descendants. Just give it away! 

Then watch to see what the Lord does with it. What He does with all that pain, all those tears, and all that confusion... what He does with you. Maybe you won't see it today. Maybe you won't see it tomorrow. Maybe you won't see it in this life. But I bet you'll see it in Heaven. You'll see it in the faces of everyone you've ever dared to touch with something that you just wanted to forget. You'll see how something that, at the time, was truly ugly has turned into something beautiful.

So when life hands you lemons... grab a pen.

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