Who's your closest friend? Who's the person who hears about every aspect of your life, as soon as you hear about it? Who knows you the best?
My best friend has been listening to my rants for the past 6 years. I tell her everything. Things that make me happy, I tell her first. Things that make me sad, I tell her first. Things that make me wanna punch something until my knuckles bleed, she is the first to know. If anybody knows me, it's her. She knows how flawed I am, and listens to my struggles and pains. I complain about everything to her, I laugh about everything with her, and I listen to her thoughts as well.
Well, this year we're in grade 12. I'm in dorms, a province away from the rest of my family. My schedule is busier than it's ever been before, and the pressure of school is intense, as you may imagine. Not too long ago, I was lying in bed and contemplating how hectic life had become. I was thinking to myself how massive the switch was. I was thinking about how hard it was going to be. I was looking ahead at this year in anticipation... but also in fear. With trips to BC, Colombia, Ireland, Scotland, and England, working 5-6 days a week, and with diplomas coming up, I suddenly felt hugely overwhelmed.
So as I lay there at 1:00 in the morning, I began to imagine myself talking to my best friend. I didn't want to wake her up, so I just talked to her in my head. I could imagine what she would say, how she would empathize, and how she would understand the stress of my life at least a little bit.
As I thought through the things I wanted to tell her, I grew angrier and angrier. I got more and more worried. I remembered more and more stresses in my life that I hadn't thought about before. I felt so anxious as I continued to tell her all my problems and all the hardships in my life.
I opened my eyes. The clock read 2:30 am. I was sweating. I sat up, rubbing my pounding forehead. I needed sleep. I needed to rest. I needed to calm down. With a billion and one things racing through my mind and troubling my thoughts, I needed to figure out how to clear my head.
Then it hit me. Why wasn't I talking to God?
I had spent so long tossing and turning, sweating and sighing, talking in my head to my imaginary best friend... without whispering a single word to my Heavenly Father.
So, tired and frustrated and worried as I was, I lay down again, and began to talk with God. I started unraveling the blanket of anxiety that I had woven for myself in recent weeks. I talked and talked, and laid all my sky-high problems before His feet.
.... And by the time I had finished ranting, I took a look at all my sky-high problems... and they were gone. I looked around, but they were no longer towering over me. So I looked down. And sure enough, there they were. Demolished. Ankle-high piles of dust. They had gone from giant and frightening, to sand that blew away in the wind.
I tried to think through them again. I thought through all my struggles, all my concerns, all my angers, all my problems, and tried for a moment to build them back into the monster they had become... but my Father didn't let me.
He totally rewired my brain.
When I brought my troubles to life in my mind, and thought through them from my own human perspective, they were crazy. Huge. Intimidating. Powerful. Crushing. Overwhelming. But when I started telling God my problems... they began to shrink. I began to see them as they really were: small.
My giant problems were exposed as insignificant in the light of His holiness and grace.
It was like all of my greatest anxieties suddenly were lost in the shadow of the cross. God reminded me of who He was. He reminded me of what He did. He reminded me of the hostility that His Son endured for my sake. He reminded me of every blessing that I never deserved. He reminded me of all He had done, and all He had yet to do. He reminded me of the frailty of my life, and the fullness of His.
He crushed the distorted lens that the world had given me to look through, and replaced them with a crystal-clear lens crafted in Heaven. He gave me a dose of reality. And I started to understand.
There isn't a person on earth who is problem-free. We are all sick and broken. But even the wealthiest, most prosperous person could view his problems as more overpowering than the poorest, loneliest person. In the Kingdom of God, the number of our problems is inconsequential. The size of our problems is of no matter. Because no matter what we are going through, when we go through it with Him, we cannot lose.
Looking at our life through God's flawless lens requires discipline and focus. It's hard, and it's tempting to give in to our weaknesses. But living life from God's perspective is immeasurably more rewarding.
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening- it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
I don't believe God wants to dismiss our struggles and ignore our cries. Not at all. But I do believe that He wants to take us deeper into His mercy, and deeper into His heart. He does not want our troubles to tower over us, He wants us to tower over them. He wants to reverse our thoughts and teach us to praise Him in the storm, and in the calm.
If we keep our eyes on the cross, remembering what our God did for us there, I believe that every single one of our problems will shift before our very eyes. We will see them not as hindrances, but instead as opportunities to reflect our Saviour. We will see them as an honour to endure, out of gratitude to the One who endured the utmost of suffering for us.
We deserve every calamity and every hardship, but Jesus intercedes on our behalf out of His infinite mercy and love. So when times do get tough, let's look at them as opportunities to grow. Let's look for every chance to follow Jesus, even unto death. He is perfecting us. We are refined through the fire. It's not easy, but it is 100% worth it.
But other [people of faith] were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
How comforting. It's not the rich and comfortable ones, but the tortured and martyred people that are too good for this world. There is no reason to complain when we examine our problems from Jesus' perspective. He gives us 20/20 vision as we , and there is no room left for whining. But there is always a reason to thank God. Every moment is the perfect moment to praise His Name.
Christ set the example to follow. He showed us what humility and endurance look like. We call ourselves Christians... let's validate that title.