Life wouldn’t be so hard if we didn’t think it was supposed to be so easy…. I don’t know who said that but it struck a deep chord inside me when I heard it.
None of us like pain and most of us have to be diligent as we practice doing hard things. One of the things that define maturity is our ability or willingness to do hard things. I have learned about these things and on occasion had the privilege of practicing them with my friend Dr. Jim Wilder. Another way he has put it is: “learning as Christians to suffer well”.
Why the pain, why the heart break, why the hurt of losing those we love ? Our culture teaches and breeds attitudes and beliefs which glorifying comfort, relaxation and happiness. Golly….Thomas Jefferson even suggests we have a right to our pursuit of happiness. These oasis in a hard and pain filled desert life are not bad, wrong or evil. We typically imagine an oasis arriving at just the most desperate moment in a desert journey. What if, as Jim Wilder suggests, our time at an oasis is merely preparation for our next desert of Christian suffering. To me that was a startling possibility that spoke of hope and capacity to do hard things.
Scripture points us towards the joy in Christian suffering well (Romans 5:3, 1Peter 4:14 and James 1:2). Even with encouragement our hearts do not go towards the pain willingly. Practicing heart shared closeness with another and feeling the Lords presence in painful places can build our relational circuitry as Dr. Karl Lehman teaches. As our relational circuits grow, emotional regulation occurs which leads overall to a greater capacity to do hard things and suffer well. As we Christians suffer well our likeness becomes more Christ like. There appears to be no goal line in this venture. There will always be the next set of painful circumstances for us to wade into while validating (instead of condemning) our hurting heart. Good thing we don’t have to do that alone; since Jesus resides in our heart !