Everyone goes through suffering, but not everyone responds the same way. Some embrace it as a tool God uses to form them. Others become bitter in the face of it. It is like that old quote:
The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay.Anonymous
But that seems like a strange saying, doesn’t it? The quote implies that there is something fundamentally different about all of us. Wax is nothing like clay, but we are all made in the image of God. It seems if you wanted to be wax, you could be. If you are clay, it’s cause you chose to be.
Yet we do all have powerful instincts and different upbringings. Some had abusive parents. Maybe deep in the stories of their ancestors, some great event like the Holocaust or someone dying terribly is part of the family narrative.
The world at large doesn’t look so much like the daytime sky with a few clouds blocking the sun every now and then. It seems more like the night sky – all black with only pinpricks of light.
A lot of people want to believe in a good God, but they see the world or, probably more likely, they see their own lives, and that belief becomes hard to swallow.
But the clay can become wax. Our pain can transform us in magnificently beneficial ways – ways we never could have changed without it.
What is more, railing against God can boomerang back at us. God does not become less God because we raise our shaking fist at him, but we become harder, colder, more bitter and brittle when we do.
Perhaps there is a way out of this. And it begins with honesty.
It’s OK to Hate what You are Going Through
A life of pain was never the ideal life God wanted for us. As the ancient story goes, God meant for humanity to live in a paradise, and by whatever means possible, he will get us there again.
So when you say, “I hate this trial I am going through,” you are not alone in your sentiment. God hates it, too.
Jesus, before he went to his crucifixion, prayed hard in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Bible says he sweated drops of blood, which is something that happens when you are under an unbelievable amount of stress. He asked God that, if there were any other way to get him out of what was coming, to make it happen
If the Son of God, who is perfect, was allowed to despise his pain and ask that it be removed, I think it’s all right for you to hate whatever difficult circumstances you are going through. God agrees with you: this sucks.
This can slip very quickly from “I hate this” to “I hate you, God.” That’s the danger in letting ourselves feel the weight of our pain. But what would be worse is to bury our emotions and shut down entirely – to walk away from the conversation altogether.
In the next post, I’ll explore praying through pain.
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