The Delight of Difficulties
Rice Fields in Mindanao, Philippines
“Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man.” (Oswald Chambers)
“The burned hand teaches best.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)
I am very aware of the fact that trying times always bring me closer to God. And that understanding is the source of today’s post. I have chose Oswald Chambers and J.R.R. Tolkien as my authors of inspiration for this topic. If we reflect on the statements above, we may discover that while aspiring for holiness we find a true happiness, one which no difficulty can challenge. And it is, for me, the refining journey of becoming holy that allows me to learn and encourage others.
“You will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.” (Oswald Chambers)
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”(J.R.R. Tolkien)
When God has really begun to transform you, from the inside out, humble astonishment cultivates a rare jewel. It’s a puzzling thing, the dimensions of this jewel, because they are far more pure and complex than we could have ever imagined. While looking for fullness in my own life, I have certainly found it. But it’s not exactly the kind of “fullness” I was initially after. I have found fullness in servitude, generosity, and thankfulness; which has proven much more fulfilling than wealth, prestige, and even my own ideas.
“When a man gets to despair he knows that all his thinking will never get him out. He will only get out by the sheer creative effort of God. Consequently he is in the right attitude to receive from God that which he cannot gain for himself.” (Oswald Chambers)
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Reaching rock bottom (or even seeing it in the distance) is often essential for many people. I have seen the misery and anguish that place can produce; but I have also seen, in some occasions, uncontaminated faith arise. I am independent and self-reliant by nature. I often like to think I can “save myself” from the world’s trials. But I am very wrong in thinking this way. We live in a fallen world of imperfect people, including myself. And to leave that part of the equation out is really rather foolish.
“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” (Oswald Chambers)
“Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)
So the “delight of difficulties” is this: our God is bigger than our problems. And He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). If you are facing a challenge in life, look for the unexpected opportunities it may bring.
Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure.