I’m pretty sure this meditation is going to sound crazy to start with, but please stick with me.
We can be grateful for the hardships in our life. I’m going to say that again. We can be grateful for the hardships in our life.
First, what I’m not saying. When I make that statement, I’m not saying the old phrase, “something good will come of this.” That phrase is completely inappropriate for many reasons. Often, when tragedy occurs, on the other side of the experience we will use that experience to help and relate to others that have experienced tragedy as well, but that’s not guaranteed, and it doesn’t make the tragedy and less tragic.
Nor am I saying that this hardship is, “God trying to teach me a lesson.” Again, like the last one, can we take and learn life lessons from the experiences of hardship in our life?
But is our Heavenly Father deliberately pushing our buttons or sending plagues from heaven to teach us something? We would be hard pressed to justify that apart from a specific divine revelation. Mostly, hardships are resulting consequences from actions within and without are control. That is often where the life lessons are learned.
Instead, I’m thinking about the peeling off process that seems to occur throughout life. As we go through life, both for young and old, the different layers of life are pulled away by hardship. Whether it be finances, health, physical body, house, career, family and friends, each of these layers that we have covered ourselves with all will eventually be peeled away from us until there is nothing left but simply “me.”
Why we can be grateful for the role of hardships in our life, the peeling away of all of the layers, is that for the Christian when we are left with nothing but simply “me,” it is never just me, but “we.” That is, my Heavenly Father and me. At the end of our earthly journey when all of the peeling has been accomplished through hardships, we are left with One who can and never will be peeled away from us and who holds us secure even when everything else has fallen away.
What is so beautiful about this reality is that everything that is found in our Heavenly Father is held secure as well, all of the saints who have gone before us, love, hope, beauty, joy, relationships, friendships, loved ones. All of these are held secure as well and so we never lost them when they were peeled away, they were simply relocated to our future yet to be lived.
As our Heavenly Father’s dearly beloved children, this is why we can respond to hardship with gratitude, knowing in faith that each peeling away is leading us closer to our eternal home. That so many of those peels, those parts of our life that are found in God, are not lost to us but are held for us secure in our future.
From Romans 5:3-5: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”