As I was traveling back to California after Thanksgiving break, I watched The Shack on the plane. I was looking for something to keep my mind occupied on the four hour flight to LAX, yet The Shack was not what I expected. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book or movie, The Shack is essentially about a man (a husband and father) who is suffering from unforeseen circumstances and is confronted by God in the form of three human beings. God wants to heal this man and allow him to forgive those who have hurt him, but it requires a long journey for him to do so. A quote from the movie that took me by surprise was from God,
“When all you see is your pain, you lose sight of Me.”
The truth that this quote exposed is exactly what caught me off guard. I think that almost all of us fall victim to doing this in the broken world we live in. When our world is falling apart and the future seems hopeless, we wallow in self pity and forget that there is an alternative solution. God wants us to call out to him when we are in pain and suffering. After all, there is no such thing as a pain-free life. If we allow the brokenness of this world to consume our emotions, we will never learn the importance of suffering. Suffering produces endurance and strength, something we must look to God for. He rejoices when we call out to him and wants to rescue us during affliction. God will not rescue you from your circumstances, but he will rescue you through your circumstances. In this, he creates a fire in us and strength that we never imagined we could possess.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in David and Goliath, “Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.”
We are not courageous on our own accord. In fact, we are weak without God. He is the creator of all things good and all things are possible through him. He does not give us any difficulties that we cannot handle and he does not abandon us. Jesus says in Revelation 2:10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer… Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
It is difficult not to question the world when immense difficulties arise, but we must remind ourselves that God’s plans are perfect and he is perfect. When you become selfish, you only see your own pain. Everyone is in pain. But when you accept Christ’s love into your life and rely on the One who will never leave you or forsake you, your perceptions of the hard times change. The tough times are not so tough anymore because you trust in your rock and redeemer. The weight will be lifted from your shoulders as you accept His plans and let go of control.
By the end of the movie, the man was able to see that God loves each of his children equally and does not mean to cause pain, but that pain also produces strength and will even bring us closer to the One who can take it all away. Ultimately, the Lord will heal your broken heart and renew you.
“When I said, ‘My food is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”