Where Me and God Talk About Difficulty.

God: “Listen, I know you’re going through a really tough time lately. So I wanted to give you some encouragement.”

Me: “Oh really. That’s fantastic. I could really use it.”

God: “I know.”

Me: “I mean, not to complain, but this period of my life has been really tough. We’ve had to struggle through some things as a family, we’ve really been fighting against doubt, fear, despair, confusion, and weakness. So whatever encouragement you’ve got to share, I’m all ears.”

God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Me: “Wait…what?

Ha ha. Really funny God. You got me on that one. Jokes on me. Oh man, ha ha. You’ve got a great sense of humor. Has anyone ever told you that?

No seriously. That’s no help at all. I mean if your power is made perfect in weakness, then I’m doing REALLY well already. I mean, I’ve got to be one of the most powerful people in the world.
I don’t want weakness. I don’t want difficulty, thank you very much. I would rather be one of those people you bless, like that guy who preaches in the football stadium and smiles too much.”

God: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,”

Me: “Timeout! I do not like where this is heading!”

God: “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Me: “Can I pass on steadfastness? I’d rather be an un-steadfastness type person and just have a really big house and a big truck.”

God: “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Me: “I’ll settle for just a truck. How’s that?”

God: “You’re a bit stubborn, aren’t you?”

Me: “Funny you should say that. My wife tells me that all the time.”

God: “Consider him who endured from sinners much hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

Me: “Too late! I’m already weary and fainthearted. Can I just opt out of whatever you’re trying to teach me?”

God: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

Me: “Yes and I’d like to keep it that way.”

God: “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?”

Me: “I make it a point to avoid fatherly exhortations. Just ask my dad on earth. I never listened to his exhortations. Exhortations = bad. Money to go to the movies = good.”

God: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

Me: “Is this one of those ‘It hurts me more than it hurts you’ talks?”

God: “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,”

Me: “Yep. Definitely one of those talks.”

God: “but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Me: “What if I don’t want the really peaceful fruit of righteousness? Is there like a grade C fruit of righteousness that I can choose?”

God: “No.”

Me: “Dang it.”

God: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings,”

Me: “Why? Why rejoice in sufferings? What sort of crazy person says, ‘Yay, suffering! I’ll take two scoops of that please! Why do we rejoice in difficulty?”

God: “knowing that suffering produces endurance

Me: (groan)

God: “and endurance produces character

Me: (ugh)

God: “and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into your hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

“I love you. I know what I’m doing in your life. I will never leave you or forsake you and I can take the most difficult, stressful, confusing, and painful things in your life and use them to do something wonderful in you and in the world around you.”

Me: …

God: “What’s that?”

Me: “Fine. But I don’t have to like it.”

God: “That’s okay. But one day you will look back and thank me for it.”

Me: “Okay. But can I get just a glimpse of how it’s all going to work out?”

God: “No.”

Me: “It was worth a shot.”

(Verse quotations from 2 Corinthians 12:9, James 1:2-5; Hebrews 12:3-12 (selected), Romans 5:3-5).

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