Friday, October 13, 2006

When Easy is Not Best

Have you ever prayed about something for years and not gotten the answer you've wanted? Have you put all your trust in God and seen few results (at least not the ones you were looking for)? Do you, like me, often ask God, "Why can't it be easy, just this once?"

I admit I am jealous of people who pray for something for a short time and get the miraculous answer they're looking for. I try really hard to be happy for them, I do. But there's always so much I don't understand.

For instance, a woman in my Bible study group asked for prayer for her brother-in-law diagnosed with lung cancer. We prayed (along with many others, I'm sure) and he responded very well to treatment. The SAME Bible study group prayed for my own father with the SAME diagnosis and he only lived a few months. Why? What made the difference?

My husband and I have wanted to get rid of a rental house for seven years. This week, relatives of ours had a yen to sell their home and had it done before the sign made it in the yard. Why is it so easy for some people? No, that's not my real question. What I really want to know is, "God, why can't it be easy for me?"

Why does life have to be so hard? Why do I have to be the patient one? Why do thoughts continually run through my mind trying to figure everything out? Why do I have to feel everything so deeply? Why must I always wait on the Lord? The only answer I ever get is, "TRUST ME."

I must acknowledge I do see some progress in myself. I must have learned something having to wait on God. I don't sweat it like I used to when our renters are late in paying. When an unexpected car repair costs more than its original purchase price I think, "Okay, God, You're going to have to take care of that one," and don't lose any sleep over it. I rejoice over the deteriorating nature of my couch because I know God promises to meet my NEEDS. A new couch will soon be a NEED. See? Progress. Looking back, would I want things to have been easy and never grown? Mmmm. . .I don't think so.

This summer we saw the movie Click. It's about a man who obtains a remote which controls his life. He discovers he can fast forward through the tough stuff, the arguments, the mundane, the annoying. But as he gets in the habit of fast forwarding through these, he notices his life flashing before him. By the end of his life he realizes he has missed it all by avoiding what is hard. It was a good illustration that taking away the lows takes away our highs. We rejoice more when the road has been difficult than when it is smooth sailing. Just as I have greater joy in watching one of my kids conquer a fear than seeing them maintain, God delights in seeing us overcome. Our hard times give us reason to celebrate later.

And there is reward in getting through the tough stuff. I am stronger, wiser, more trusting. Every time I have to do something the "hard" way, I gain more confidence that God is my security net. There is no replacement for that kind of peace. It is a gift, albeit hard won. We are in training, people. It doesn't always feel good at the time, but it will be of tremendous benefit later.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

I can't honestly say I'd ask for the tough stuff, but I won't bemoan it either. God knows what's best for me. He knows what will bring me the most good. I have to trust Him and do my best to trudge through the valleys. Who knows what might be on the other side?

7 comments:

Kara Bird said...

How often do we think of the hard times as a gift? But you're so right. What are the highs without the lows? Not much. Life is a gift in it's entirety, even the stuff we hate going through. Thanks for your wisdom Tami! It's always much appreciated for those of us who are still learning. :)

Rachelle said...

Tami-

great post, my friend. You have learned so much, surely it should become easy sooner or later, shouldn't it???
Why does God always seem to make only some of us work harder than others? Why does he/she have all the luck? Why can't He just do it for us? Why does He treat us so unfairly? Why can't I make the rules? Why can't we do it my way?
Is any of this sounding familiar? My kids ask me those questions all the time. So.....my point is....
maybe you've figured out my point by now.

luv ya,
Rachelle

p.s.
When you do learn to just accept it all though, without questioning, let me know how you did it!!

Annie said...

Thanks once again for your encouragement to others through your own life. I am constantly reminded of something my pastor said during our sunday school class. In short: turn off the ATN-automatic negative thoughts. Sometimes thinking positive takes work but I believe it certainly is God's way of taking away our view and giving us His.

kpjara said...

I picked up the same thing from that movie!

I have begun...barely begun to reach a point in my life where I can USE the really tough experiences as I pray with and for others. I see how God has built me strong and firm and READY to battle. I see the value in something hard earned! There are still many days I want to hit the 'easy' button!

Emiley said...

I was reading a book with one of my kids the other day and it said "wouldn't it be nice if we could just have Spring without going through the Winter". We agreed that we sure wouldn't appreciate Spring nearly as much if we hadn't just gone through the wintertime. We also agreed that we both love the winter....so maybe that's the key....learning to "love" those hard times, all the time knowing that Spring is coming!

SO good seeing you on Saturday, Tami!! I miss you!

Jaime said...

Wow! I my eyes teared up reading that....I think it just hit too close to home today. I always feel like I do everything the hard way to begin with and I'm trying to change that, but still learning and life are painful. Thank you for your wisdom and encouraging words.

R.G. said...

Wow, I think everyone can relate to this! Even those people who seem to get immediate answers to prayers... they have their own struggles, too, right? God is refining us, burning out our impurities, sifting the wheat from the chaff. It takes a lot of fire (and a great big sifter) to do all that! I don't love it... but in a paradoxical way, I do find joy in the fact that God loves me SO much that He allows these trials into my life.

Great post!