“Baby, let God pick your troubles,” she often advised to my bellyaching over the trivial problems I complained about. “There’s always someone worse off than you,” she’d tack on when she’d exhausted her supply of encouragement.
But I always wondered about those people and what would happen if I were to become one of the folks whose troubles were weighty with devastation, loss, and pain. I’d witnessed a few people sink beneath the blows of sorrow, and I imagined that given the same circumstances I’d be one of them, forever stooped, going through life with senses dulled, crushed by the weight of the pain. As a young mother, I mentally sorted through possible losses, thinking that, perhaps, I could lessen future pain if I let myself imagine the worst. That kind of thinking led me down some unhealthy paths, and I found myself girding my emotions tightly against my heart so I could be better protected should one of the big “Ifs” arise in my life. Thankfully, I realized I was giving fear of the unknown power over my present, so I shelved the fixation that was robbing every blessing of its joy.
I learned to practice gratitude—especially for the bad things I DIDN’T experience. In fact, these “have nots” became my biggest reason for thanksgiving. As a spin off, I learned to be grateful for the troubles God DID choose for my life. Hindsight was my teacher, revealing that the things that seemed suffocating in my past didn’t stay suffocating. It showed me how I’d made it through some things, how that eventually, I had caught my breath, and given enough time, returned more fully into life. With reflection, I could see that God had always been present. Sometimes, I could even acknowledge the good that had surfaced as a result of my problems. Introspection that led to retrospection let me see that God always was enough. The speaker’s words made it visual. Indeed, God had always filtered my trouble through his hands.
This truth was a beautiful reminder recently as I observed brutal losses edge close to loved ones. It was one of those times that drove home the point that someone had it worse than me, one of those times that prompted the question of how I would handle a similar trial. Rather than retreating into a shell created by fear, I embraced the truth. I couldn’t handle it. Not on my own. But I do know that if God lets some seemingly unbearable situation come my way, then he will have equipped me for the encounter, and he will be there to lend me the support I need. I trust this because he has been faithful through every other distress that has come my way. Unlike a random billow of sand pouring unchecked through spread-apart fingers, however, each trial has been carefully chosen with my eternal well-being in mind. Each has come accompanied by blessing, and each has been felt by the one who shares the pain of my burdens as they filter the nail scar in his hands.
Tip/Tidbit: Today, take courage from John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”