Sooner or later, everyone will handle the tough stuff that inevitably happens in our lives. In a good stretch of life, we may have theory about why life can be difficult and challenging. But when it actually is--when our lives are abruptly interrupted--we require more. We require real resources beyond ourselves.
Such challenges Os Hillman (The Upside of Adversity) calls a “Joseph Pit” experience (cf. Genesis 37:24). He asks for our candor.
What does your Pit look like? How deep is it? How wide? How dark? How painful?...one thing is consistent in every Joseph Pit experience. Our life is interrupted. We lose control over our circumstances. We are cast upon a sea of uncertainty with a raft but no oars. For the first time in our life we are forced to depend entirely on God and others.
Jesus himself said, “In this world, you will have trouble.” So how do you and I as Jesus’disciples not just survive, but even thrive, in the tough stuff?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “You become a cord of three strands. You interweave your life and your heart with God and with others. You regularly and consistently share your with others your tough stuff. Why? Because (according to Ecclesiates 4:12) a cord of three strands is not easily (or quickly) broken.
Though tough stuff can wash into our lives because we live in a world struggling with the enduring consequences of sin…
Though tough stuff can be used by our spiritual enemy (i.e., Satan) as a strategy to destroy our trust in God, and us…
God does redeem the tough stuff for His good purposes. He will use it to have us know Him better as we are becoming like His Son, Christ Jesus.
Sitting in a worship service one Sunday morning, Larry Crabb felt an usher’s tap on his shoulder. On the church office’s phone, Crabb heard, “Larry? This is Dad. Bill’s been in an accident. Phoebe just called from the airport.” Dr. Crabb would soon realize that his beloved Bill lost his life when an UA 737 crashed just into a neighborhood park in Colorado Springs. Crabb was devastated.
And yet in time, Larry Crabb would write about his grief and his recovery in a book entitled FINDING GOD.
Let me tell you why I wrote this book. I have come to a place in my life where I need to know God better or I won’t make it. Life at times has a way of throwing me into such blinding confusion and severe pain that I lose all hope. Joy is gone. Nothing encourages me.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learn as I go through dark seasons is this: there is no escape in this life from pain and problems. I can live obediently, practice spiritual disciplines, and claim my identity in Christ, but problems still continue.
More than anything else, I need a person to trust, someone who can give me hope, joy, and peace in the midst of life’s unpredictable struggles. A plan to follow is not enough. More than ever before, I am convinced that God yearns to be known by us far more than we want to know Him, and His great work in us is to increase our passion for knowing Him until it is stronger than all other passions.
Getting to know God better, and one another better, is part-n-parcel of sharing our tough stuff. When people seek the reality of us handling tough stuff with the resources that are uniquely found in Christ, we have a much better opportunity to connect others in life-changing, life-defining relationships in Christ.
Our mission. Our calling as a church team, a church family.
Should you want some quality reading alongside these weeks, I suggest
- Os Hillman, The Upside of Adversity
- Joni Tada, When God Weeps
- Don Carson, How Long O Lord
- C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain