I’m an avid reader. I always have been. Growing up, I had a number of books I loved to read. From The Boxcar Children and The Babysitters’ Club to Number the Stars, I read a variety of books, and one of my favorites was a book by Judy Blume entitled Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. For those unfamiliar with the book, it’s about a twelve-year-old girl who wonders how you can tell if God really exists and if He cares about what happens to a person. Although it’s a deep topic for a young girl (I read it when I was eight), life has taught me that many people ask the same question numerous times throughout their lives, including Christians who already know the answer.
Life is not easy, a fact we all wish wasn’t true. Yet I’ve realized something over the years as I’ve read countless books. The good stories, the ones we’re drawn to, are the ones with a great deal of drama. It’s the stories of problems, hardship, and impossible odds we find ourselves drawn to. No one wants to read a book or watch a movie where nothing happens. We want stories where people rise above challenges and overcome major obstacles. And we want this because it gives us hope – hope that it can happen for us, in our lives. But then, that’s what thriving is. It’s not possible to thrive if you haven’t faced adversity. Merriam-Webster defines thrive as “to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.”[i]
I can hear you thinking, “Great! Then how do I get there??? How do I move past the adversity and get on to the thriving part of my story?” I’ll let you in on a little secret, one which took me years to understand.
Thriving starts in adversity. It’s not a destination, a goal you strive to reach. Thriving is a choice. It’s one you make every day when you’re in the thick of suffering and hardship.
One of the easiest things to do during times of hardship is give up on God. We think because life isn’t easy God has given up on us, so we’re going to give up on Him. Yet that’s the worst thing we can do. Just because circumstances don’t look the way we want them to doesn’t mean God’s abandoned us. In Genesis 39, the writer says four different times “the Lord was with Joseph.” I think the writer did this because he wanted us to see that God is always with us working in our lives, in the good and the bad.
With every problem that comes our way, we are given the opportunity to believe God – to believe He is who He says He is, that’s He’s with us through the ups and downs of life, that He cares, and that He’s working it all out for our good and His glory. But with every opportunity to trust God, we are also given an invitation to disbelieve Him. Sadly, most people take the easy road – disbelief. Yet when we choose to stand firm in our faith, that’s when God starts to show off.
Thriving isn’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it’s worth it! So your life is hard and filled with adversity? It just means you’ve got the makings of a great story.
Now what are you going to do about it?
“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6 (MSG)
© July 23, 2014
*If you missed last week’s devotion in the series “Learning to Thrive,” read it by clicking this link: http://www.erinelizabethaustin.com/blog/wipeout