I have about three different, very thoughtful, important-sounding posts on back order. But this one seems more relevant right now, so here it is.
Life’s a story. God is a story teller, and he made all of us and the world we live in. I’m going to treat that as a given. But think about stories. How many were all smiles and cheerfulness and no bad thing ever happened? What’s that? No story ever? At least, not one that ever had much to offer to the world. No, our favorite characters live through pain and get their butts kicked and sometimes even die. Then they overcome their obstacle, or whoop the bad guy’s butt, or wake up after a vacation in the afterlife. Go, fight, die, overcome. Gethsemane, Golgotha, Resurrection Day.
Second, and maybe it’s just because I’m a guy, but I feel like just about everybody in this world needs a war to fight. You’ve got to have something to live for, something to die for. You’ve got to have something that makes you embrace the pain and push on through it, because the result is worth it.
Point three, and more obscure. Chesterton (that’s G.K.) talks about how the most magical things in life are the everyday things. Watch a sunset. Listen to cicadas. Sit on the porch with your friends. Read a poem. Hug a brother. Call your mom. Pet a kitten. Kingdoms rise and fall, movements dwindle or transform, and all the high-falutin’ philosophies of an era will be replaced eventually. But this world, and the people in it, is going to live forever. You’re a step closer to God’s mind when you watch the rhythms of life instead of treating every cultural crisis like the apocalypse. It’s the simple things that make life worth living. Be a simple kind of man.
One final thing to tack on before I wrap this up. There’s a stupid acronym floating around the interwebs these days: YOLO. Well, as annoying as it is, the phrase is true: you only live once. You only live once, and you are not the master of your fate, you are not the captain of your soul. You’re a character in a story, and all you know is what’s been revealed to you. This sounds like hopeless powerlessness, but it’s the very opposite. Stonewall Jackson once commented that God had determined when and where he would die, and nothing was going to change that, so he might as well walk headlong into the battle and get the job done. He was right. When you know God is in charge, it frees you to do what needs to be done and leave the rest up to him. You can plant and water, but God makes the plant bear fruit.
So God tells us to rejoice in suffering. Seems hard, but honestly it’s just a matter of perspective. We are in a story, and the suffering is what happens before the victory. You’ve got something worth going through hell for, so keep on going. It’s the little moments in life that are important, and this hard striving to hold it together when you’d rather not is something you’ll never feel again in quite the same way. Savor it. And your Father is in control, so keep driving through the pain and trust him to take care of what needs doing.
Easier said than done? True. But it doesn’t get easier by not trying. Might as well, right? You only live once, and God is control.