Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
“The average American encounters 3000 commercial messages each day, and because of this we’ve been programmed to think life was supposed to be easy. It isn’t. Life is supposed to be meaningful, and we can’t gain a sense of meaning without conflict.”
About a year ago, we did a series at Restoration titled Tension is Good. It was a fun few weeks, diving into the idea that the tensions we feel in life, the conflict, are actually a good thing. Tension molds us and shapes us. It causes us to grow. After all, muscles and our brains only grow when they are stressed, right?
One year later, I find myself revisiting the truth in the quotes above and the encouragement in Scripture to persevere in the face of trials. In the past few weeks, I’ve talked to people who are going through surgeries, dealing with job transitions, taking heat in the press, family drama, and having a house burn down!
Tension is good…tension is good…tension is good….
At an individual level, these are all difficulties, and trials are part of each person’s story, resistance in the unfolding drama of their lives. And while it is difficult, it’s also been refining. Marriages are being strengthened, community is coming alive, and love is doing what it does—pouring support, encouragement, and hope through people to people. God is redeeming some of the junk, turning it all around to the benefit of those who trust Him to do so.
As a church, what impacts one has a definite effect on the rest. We’ve been called to carry one another’s burdens and rally around those who are hurting. It’s been really awesome to see that happening! But it also makes me think of the old adage that when something beautiful is trying to come into the world, it will meet with equal and opposite resistance. That’s true for any creative endeavor, and it’s true as we try to live a better story as a church family.
We knew resistance would come, it was just a question of when…and how.
I don’t mean to oversimplify the complexities of life or imply that every individual struggle is part of some cosmic wrestling match between good and evil. But I also understand that Jesus warned his disciples over and over about the trials and struggles that kill, steal, and destroy the abundant life He promised. Every great story has great tension at the center of its narrative arc. Our stories are no different. Neither is the story we’re telling together. But the tension is good. Clearly doing something right!
In the end, what we do know is that the outcome of the story is a good one. We know that there is meaning and purpose in all of it. We know that these momentary trials and struggles will produce character and hope. Even as we go through seasons like this, Jesus reminds us over and over again:
“In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.”