“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” coach yelled after I scraped my knee on the graveled school basketball court. I limped from the court, blood squirted down my shin, a small pebble remained lodged in my kneecap, and internally I questioned just how tough I was… I sure didn’t plan to “keep going” until I got a band-aid!
Maxims are great for sport because they take a lengthy truth and put it into a simple package. But, maxims can be dangerous in real life, because they don’t consider every factor involved. For example, we tell a kid on the basketball court to “keep going” because we’ve discerned he’s in no real jeopardy. But, what if that child is a hemophiliac? Wouldn’t it change our stance if his life was threatened by the simple fall? Certainly.
One of the dangers in an overtly Christian environment is to live on maxims and not share openly with others. Fearful that someone may question our faithfulness, or tired of the same two bible verses being thrust our way, we pull back and act out “the tough who get going.” Meanwhile, our challenge grows more complex, our pain grows more severe, and we’ve no one to act as spiritual counterbalance to our downward spiral. It is amazing how many people pull away from Christian community just when they need it most. I’ve heard young men say, “I’m going through personal sin, I need time alone with God.” I’ve heard young couples say, “Our marriage is hurting, we need to travel.” Dear friend, please understand that the world, flesh, and evil are doing EVERYTHING they can to keep you from one group – the church – because that’s the place that can help, through Christ, turn your sin and sorrow around.
If you fit into the category of hurting, perplexed, depressed, or distressed, then you’re certainly not alone – Even God’s most faithful people have experienced heartache. Maybe you’ve heard of one? His name was the apostle Paul…
At one point in Paul’s life he faced so many challenges that his critics insinuated God had abandoned him. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 Paul even confessed, “For we do not want you to be unaware brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” Paul’s word for “despaired” is the Greek word exaporeomai describing utter hopelessness. This verse proves Paul wasn’t superman, didn’t deny his feelings, and certainly wasn’t afraid to let others know his struggles.
When you struggle, SHARE it with someone. And, make sure it’s the RIGHT someone. A bartender, unbeliever, or former flame, is not gonna help. A pastor, your spouse, a small group leader, or faithful friend will. God doesn’t want you to deny emotions or circumstances and doesn’t want you to journey alone – the church is your greatest resource for spiritual strength and vitality!
Contrary to a lot of modern teaching, the Bible tells us that hard times will come (we cannot pick only the easy verses of Scripture and discard the tough ones.) But the Bible also clearly teaches us that amidst those hard times, Christ is with us, church family loves us, and heaven is just around the corner. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you won’t have pain but it does mean that amidst the pain you’ll have a heavenly Father and earthly friends.
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