May 18

“I was crushed…so much so that I despaired even of life, but that was to make me rely not on myself, but on the God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8, 9

The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death worketh in you.”

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves. (Streams in the Desert)

I have been shaped more by difficulty than comfort. There is something unique about hardship that creates opportunity for intimacy that nothing else does. Perhaps this is because crises leave no room for independence; each disaster or disappointment peels away self-reliance like old paint when stripper and putty knife are applied. I do not want to end this life looking and acting as I did twenty years ago, or even five days ago. I want to grow into the man God has had in mind from the creation of the world, and ease will never move me there. Father, grant grace to do more than endure; permit me hard places that keep my heart pliable and bent toward You.

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