The last couple of years have been a real doozy. Hormonal challenges, parenthood challenges, interpersonal challenges, financial challenges. It's been everywhere I turn. Nothing... NOTHING has been easy. I despaired. IT'S ALL MY FAULT. GOD MUST HATE ME! Goodness! I've been a mess.
A few days ago I had a light bulb moment. I have no idea where this thought came from other than sometimes God just drops things straight down instead of through some more circuitous route. I was talking with a friend who was dealing with some of the same issues I've faced recently and she thanked me for being there and understanding where she was coming from. Of course! That is exactly what 2 Corinthians 1 talks about: "...who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any troubles with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." That's how God works.
Then it hit me. Maybe what I'm experiencing ISN'T punishment. Maybe it isn't just a result of my own failure or inadequacies or sin. Maybe it is more like Special Forces Training. God trains different people for different tasks and maybe he is training me for the specific missions has in my future, be what they may.
Yesterday my son showed me a TV show. "Two Weeks in Hell". It shows life inside the Special Forces Assessment Center in North Carolina (yay!) where soldiers who desire to be in the Special Forces are put through two weeks of physical, mental and emotional hell in order to see which men have what it takes. It looks pretty darn miserable.
This got me to thinking. Here is a situation where men voluntarily submit themselves to this kind of torture and can willingly leave if, at any point, the pressure becomes more than they can handle. But the whole point is to see if they have what it takes. The question is always "Are you strong enough?" Physically strong enough. Mentally strong enough. Emotionally strong enough. Can you reach inside and pull out more and more and more and those that can and do will move on to begin training for the hardest missions our world can dish up.
But God's training is different. I didn't volunteer for this and, best I can tell, I can't willingly leave. It sounds like that would suck and it would if I had to, over and over again, look inside myself for some sort of strength that I know without a shadow of a doubt is not there. The world glories in strength. In the ability to endure. To tough it out. I WANT to be tough. I'm just... well... not.
But listen to this:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."Great pressure." CHECK!
— 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
"Far beyond our ability to endure." CHECK!
"Despaired even of life." CHECK!
"That we might not rely on ourselves." WHAT?
"But on God who raises the dead." HALLELUJAH!
I don't have it in me. I don't have to. God does. This entire exercise is to learn how his power is made perfect in my weakness. And just where the strength comes from. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Time to put on my combat boots and get on with the day.