The other day my husband shared something from his heart, and it’s been heavy on mine ever since. He told me that, although he cannot wait to see Christiano in heaven, he is saddened that there will be some things that he will never get to experience with him again. For instance, their doubts, their struggles, their shortcomings, their fears, or their failures. That grieves the heart of my husband, and the more I think about it – it grieves mine, too. Let me explain.
Heaven is a perfect place with perfect wholeness; a place where we will be in constant rest. No skinned knees to bandage up, no broken hearts to mend, and no fears to calm. Financial troubles will vanish, sickness and death will be no longer, and there will be no more orphans, widows or grieving mothers and fathers. It will be perfectly whole, having all we need. God will be there, and we get to be in His magnificent presence with our Jesus seated right next to Him. We will have 24/7 access to the God of wonders, the One who made everything, including us; and to Jesus – the One who took our death upon Himself so that we could experience this full and everlasting life. What a day it will be when we meet them both, face to face. Nothing else will matter. Pain will fall off of us and fullness of joy will be all we know.
And, as much as we all yearn and long for a day with no more tears and no more pain, it’s all we’ve ever really known. We live in a fallen world, surrounded by pain. Pain caused by others’ free will choices, pain caused by accidents, and pain caused by other forms of darkness. We’ve learned to live this way by praising God through the pain, inviting joy even in sorrow, pushing through our own fear and doubt, and worshiping while we wait for things to change. We’ve learned to cry it out, talk it out, and walk it out – before The Lord and before men. We’ve adapted to this life because it is all we’ve lived. And, although we look forward to a better life, we choose to embrace this one by giving it all we’ve got.
We run hard, with perseverance, towards heaven, and we don’t quit. We rejoice when we see the hand of God and we get so excited when a fellow running mate triumphs in victory! We run hard, but we lag just enough to make sure our brother doesn’t quit, and we are there to pick him up when he does. But, sometimes we struggle. We struggle with the path sometimes because it gets hard and we want to quit. But, we keep going. We struggle with the path because it gets dark and uncertain. But, we keep going. We struggle with the path because it’s painful. But, we keep going. We struggle with the path when our loved ones finish before us. But, we keep going. We struggle with the path because our best friend quits. But, we keep going. We struggle with the path because we don’t understand it. But, we keep going. We struggle with the path most of the time. But, sometimes the path is beautiful. It’s clear and precise. It’s smooth and perfectly laid out. And, in the end – it’s worth it. The path is a struggle, but it’s a struggle that’s worth it. And, there’s beauty in that. There is beauty in the struggle of life.
Any honest married couple will share that their relationship has endured some hard things; that there hasn’t always been certainty or clarity. That they’ve had to press in hard to fight the good fight. And sometimes, the really good fights are the ones that shift us to a higher level. Any mother or father can relate to not wanting to hand their child everything, but making them work towards some things. Because making them work produces character, integrity, and perseverance.
Struggle is not only inevitable; it’s necessary. So struggle with the ones you love today. Struggle hard, and love hard. Because one day the struggle will be no longer, and we will be made perfect. But, until that day, I urge you to embrace this beautiful struggle called life. Life is beautiful, and it’s a gift from God. Receive it, open it, participate in it, play with it, wrestle with it, and embrace it.
Instead of wishing our struggles away, or rushing through the seasons of this life, we can ask God to lead and guide us through them. He will never leave us or forsake us as we journey through this beautiful struggle called life.
‘My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!’ Hebrews 11b-13