Standing in the musty locker room of the local middle school, I was confronted by a girl who wanted to fight with me. I was 13 years old, no bigger than a minute, and the only fighting I had ever done was with my little brother over the last Oreo cookie. But there she stood. Cheri. With her dark hair and winged eyeliner, her expression declared that she was already the winner.
We didn’t fight that day. Or ever. She didn’t come to a realization that we had no reason to fight…I just ran away. Everyday. For 2 years.
I’m not a fighter by nature. Truth be told, I’m not even a Christian warrior by nature.
My nature is to quit. When something gets too difficult, I just quit. Can’t open that jar of marinara sauce? Looks like we’re having something else for dinner.
But one year ago, I was placed back in that musty locker room. Someone was ready to with fight me. But this time I was ready to win.
Last year my husband was tragically killed in the line of duty while he was assisting firefighting efforts a couple hours north from home. The enemy was ready to take me down, waiting for me to run away.
But on that day, I refused to run. I vowed to fight. And I became a warrior.
The sad realization is that we will all endure trials and heartache. There is not a single person alive who is born immune to difficulties. In fact, scripture nearly promises that we will all face hardship.
“…when you face trials of many kinds…” – James 1:2
“…your faith is going to be tested…” – 1 Peter 4:12
“…after you have suffered for a little while…” – 1 Peter 5:10
” In this world you will have trouble…” – John 16:33
I find this so reassuring. Why? Because it tells me that I’m not alone. I’m not the only one experiencing heartache.
And it also tells me that this is part of God’s plan.
“God’s plan.” I’ve seen people roll their eyes at this statement. I’ve heard argument that God’s plan is “messed up.” I’ve watched people scoff at my belief that God has a greater plan for the broken heart sheltered within my chest.
But it’s true. There is a plan, even if I never live to see it come to fruition.
Have you ever paid attention to the stories of the bible? The stories that produce our faithful heroes like David, Abraham, Sarah, and Job?
Every great victory first began with hardship and heartache. I have yet to come across a story where our hero wakes up faithfully strong every morning and never experiences pain, either physically or emotionally.
Even our Savior, the King of Kings, didn’t get a free ride.
Oddly comforting, right?
When we are in the midst of heartache, we are amongst heroes of faith. And to be honest, I don’t mind runnin’ with that crowd. Hannah, Esther, Mary, Rahab? Oh yeah, they are my #squadgoals.
Something happens when we are delivered into hardship. Something we can’t see nor can we feel. We can’t see the blueprints and we can’t find the logic. But as soon as our trial begins, so does the story of victory.
My favorite hero in the bible is, of course, the man who died for me. Jesus. If there was ever anybody who deserved to walk through life without hardship, heartache or trial, it was that guy. Blameless, faithful, loving, perfect.
Yet, he went through hardship, as well.
“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ …’My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” – Matthew 26:36-39
What was that? Jesus was afraid? He was sad? Scared? He prayed for God to change the outcome??
Yes. Yes. Yes.
“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. … He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.'” – Matthew 26:40-42
Hold on, Jesus was frustrated? Brokenhearted? Disappointed? And still asked God to change the outcome?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
“When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.” – Matthew 26:43-44
Wait a second. I thought Jesus wanted to go to the cross…
Correction: Jesus wanted to live according to God’s will. And if God’s will was for him to endure the cross, he was willing to accept that.
God asked Jesus to carry a heavy burden. God knew exactly what His son would have to endure should he accept His will. God heard his son’s cry to find another way. God watched as his son’s friends deserted him in his time of great sorrow. And God’s heart broke as he watched his son suffer a torturous and humiliating death.
And He let it happen. He didn’t intervene, even when his son was begging.
He couldn’t interrupt the plan He had for His son because attached to the hardship was magnificent glory. Without the pain, the promise would be broken.
Thankfully, our hero of the story followed through with God’s will. Had Jesus taken control of the situation himself, God’s glory would’ve never been revealed. And we would’ve never known a relationship with God.
Man, what a faithful warrior. He trusted God, even through his fear and his sorrow.
Jesus let God lead the way, even when it hurt.
I don’t know what God’s plan is for me. I don’t know His plan for my children.
But I know there is victory ahead. I know there is a promise of glory mixed within the reality of pain.
Therefore, I will put on the armor of God, and I will continue to fight for my faith. The battle always comes before the victory – and one year ago, I declared myself a warrior.