This Too Shall Pass...But How?
Disclaimer: If you are a Christian weak in the faith or easily swayed by the brutal honesty of a man you might ordinarily expect to encourage and uplift you by handing you a pair of rose-tinted glasses and calling them "Faith," then please...read no further. This is a blog and a blog is a journey. The journeyer sometimes knows where he is going and sometimes he doesn't even know where he is coming from. So, read at your own risk.
Mark this under the heading, "Things I Would Have Told You Then, But Didn't Know Until Now. Sorry About That."
I remember repeating from the pulpit the oft-told story about the woman who testified in prayer meeting, "Whenever I have any trouble, I open my Bible and read. It isn't very long before I see the words, 'And it came to pass.' That's when I close my Bible and say, 'Thank God it didn't come to stay. It came to pass.'"
I told that story, as did ten thousand other preachers, to encourage people not to whine too much about their troubles, not to fret overmuch about hardships. We reasoned that these things are temporary. They pass. You know, the ol' "Tough times never last; tough people do" kind of speech. Probably we wanted to encourage folks who were going through bad times. Or, maybe we just wearied of listening to their incessant bitching.
In any case, we weren't lying. Troubles are temporary. Tough times usually don't last. God is good. This little bit of suffering is nothing compared to eternal bliss. All that. True enough.
But we might have left a couple of things out, probably because we just didn't know better.
"This, too, shall pass." We know that. What else do we need to know?
First, how will it pass? Will it recede quietly into the night, just slip away while you sleep, maybe leave an "I'm Sorry" note and a chocolate on your pillow? Will you wake tomorrow and the problem just packed its bags and left somewhere in the night?
Not likely. It is more apt to pass the way a kidney stone does, with its jagged edges wreaking havoc, buckling your knees, tearing through you like Quantrill's Raiders. It may leave you (euphemistically speaking, of course) pissing blood for days after it's departure. But at least it will be gone and you should feel better soon.
Second consideration is this: why does it pass? Maybe it is like the joke about how big the mosquitoes are in Houston. A guy said he overheard two mosquitoes discussing whether to eat him right there on the spot or cart him off somewhere before the big mosquitoes showed up and took him from them. Maybe that is why that little heartache, setback, bump in the road passed.
Maybe when your trouble left, it was just getting out of the way of what's coming.
I know this line of reasoning is pessimistic, but that doesn't mean it cannot be true. It can be. It might be.
Are you ready to deal with that?
Yesterday was a horrible day at my house. There was tension, disagreements, problems to solve, issues to resolve. At the end of the day, my wife climbed into my beautiful, silver Dodge Ram pickup truck. I was picking her up from work.
She shook her head and let out a cleansing little sigh, saying, "What a day, huh?"
"Yeah. Thank God it is just about over," says me.
At 6:30 this morning, I went to start that same truck to let its engine warm. It wasn't where I left it. It wasn't anywhere close to where I left it. It was gone. Just...gone. Stolen by a faceless, nameless thief.
(I had to pause to regain myself from a fit of maniacal laughter just now. Sorry.)
And we thought yesterday's troubles couldn't end soon enough. We didn't know they were just scooting over for the big boys, who were moving in today.
It isn't like we weren't warned. Momma said there would be days like this. So did Job...and Jesus:
"Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." ~Job 14:1
"...in the world you shall have tribulation..." ~John 16:33
So, yeah. There you have it. Troubles do eventually pass. Some linger for years. Some even a lifetime. Whether now (this life, this realm) or later (the afterlife, eternity), all troubles will pass. The passing may be unpleasant. The troubles yet to come may make you pine for the ones you have now, as if these were blessings and not burdens.
I just wanted you to know: troubles come and troubles go. Some troubles are coming while the others are going. Sometimes you can take positive actions to hasten their departure. Other times, all you can do is let them run their course.
One thing I know: without faith in a higher purpose, without faith that all of this seeming madness makes sense to the One Whose perspective is as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth, this constant parade of trouble might get more than a little disheartening.