“One of the greatest tragedies of a divorce is that just when the pain of the clarifying process is most acute, when both unconsciously know that they must mutate or perish, the work is stopped and the partnership breaks off. Instead of the painful breaking through to the deeper level of understanding and responsibility for each other which may be within reach, they make their escape and have to start all over again if they enter marriage with another.” (Steere, Douglas. Work & Contemplation. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, p. 139).
To the tragedy of divorce, one could add so many others—lost faith, abandoned ministry or mission, left churches. If we don’t learn to stay with hard things for at least a while, we’ll never grow past a rather juvenile view of the world that must always feel good to me. “It isn’t meeting my needs” is usually a precursor to a restart that takes us back to the starting line. I wonder how many times I’ve given up on something, not realizing a finish line was just around the next corner.
Suffering can be a means of gaining clearer, simpler perspective. Breaking through to deeper places of faithfulness and fruitfulness rarely occurs without some hard digging into deeper soil. Starting over at a new church, ministry, marriage (or fill in the blank) is exactly that—starting back at the beginning. There is no long and challenging obedience in the same direction that takes us far. We end up doing little loops around the same familiar little territory and wonder why we haven’t made much progress over time.
- Where is one hard place in your life where you are tempted to call it quits and start over elsewhere? How might God be encouraging you to stay a little longer?
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