We are daily reminded through various announcements — radio, TV, news magazines, newspapers of our humanity, and as such are vulnerable to thousands of emotional shocks and setbacks.
As we gaze at the lives of our neighbors and examine our own situations, we know that there are multiple times when “life beats us up.” Unmerited illness and injury, conflict, controversies, house fires, disappointing test results (academic or professional), loss of a friend, the plight of an adult child — these are fresh wounds to our sense of well-bring. On occasion, “life beats us up.” Our diligent efforts to be good and courageous are frustrated due to circumstances beyond our control and/or the choice we made. Frequently our well-intended choices, made rationally, prayerfully, and sensitively, result in adversity and stress. Every day of the week life continues to hurl obstacles into our path of joyful and victorious living.
Exemption from pain, stress and mental anguish is not in our contract with life in general or with God in particular.
Last week I bought a DVD recorder and for a small fee also got an extended protection plan to guard against defects for the next two years. Unfortunately, there is not FDIC insurance or a warranty plan that guarantees no obstacles or stressful challenge.
This is where my United Methodist theology and spiritual understanding rises and gives me new hope. In the following is one characteristic that separates Methodists from other well-known denominations. We teach that any kind of setback or emotional assault isn’t directed by God. God’s knowing something unpleasant is going to happen doesn’t make it happen.
When “life beats us up,” it’s of limited consolation to believe that God willed it to happen. Instead, it is better and healthier for us to live confident that spiritual resources are readily available every minute, “every long hour.” Such spiritual nurturing is as available as talking to a neighbor or understanding friend. Our personal relationship, regardless of how we were baptized or how we take Holy Communion, is with God as the source of courage to face the obstacles of life. Because of this we have the strength to accept adversity and personal suffering.
Yes, “life will beat us up,” but our spiritual resources will self-balance, neutralize and enable us to recover from all such adversity.
Eleanor Roosevelt (left) is often remembered for her advice, especially to women: She said “…that women in politics need to develop a rhinoceros hide, as well as the belief that a woman is like a teabag: you never know how strong she is until she is in hot water.” Toughness and strength are available at a price to all of us in the midst of our struggles.
Author’s Note: For more information and illumination on this subject, read The Upper Room, 12.21.07, page 60, God Be With Me.