Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Favorite Quotes

No problem lasts forever

No problem lasts forever. No matter how permanently fixed in the center of our lives it may seem, whatever we experience in this ever-changing life is sure to pass. Even pain.

Difficult situations often bring out qualities in us that otherwise might not have risen to the surface, such as courage, faith, and our need for one another. All of our experiences can help us to grow.

But we may need patience. Some wounds cannot be healed quickly. They must be given time. In the meantime, we can appreciate the new capabilities we are developing, such as the capacity to mourn and the willingness to accept. Let us share our losses and triumphs with each other, for that is how we gather courage.

Living with the Pain

First, the good news is that you are part of the human race. Quit beating up on yourself about the bad stuff. Stop asking what you did wrong, how you can change to make it better, and why God is punishing you. You didn't, you can't, and He isn't. Peter said, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (I Peter 4:12).

Second, don't forget that God is still God, that He is in control of circumstances, and that He likes to say "yes" to our requests. So ask Him. You aren't without resource and He does like you a lot. Sometimes He will change the circumstances. After all, He likes you and one never knows. Paul said, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request- be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7).

Third, remember that all things have a purpose (Romans 8:28) and that God will provide what you need to bear what you have to bear (I Corinthians 10:13). 1 know. It sometimes doesn't feel like that's true. But your nose is still above the water and He is there. Trust Him with the bad stuff. Besides, what else are you going to do?

Fourth, embrace the bad stuff. Run to it. So many of us, in our pain, never allow ourselves to experience the power and grace of God in our suffering. The point isn't that we have it bad; the point is thinking we don't have it bad, trying to avoid having it bad, or pretending that is isn't bad, and what that does to us.
In other words, if you don't think you have a problem, you can't fix it; if you pretend you don't have a problem, you can't fix anybody else's problem; and if you believe that you shouldn't have a problem, you will kill yourself with guilt over your problem. The principle is this: There is a direct correlation between your willingness to face the darkness of your own pain and your ability to live fully. Paul said that he rejoiced in his suffering.

Have you ever noticed that people who have everything are sometimes quite silly and superficial? We all know the prettiest girl in the class who is vacuous, or the star athlete who missed the question about two plus two, or the bright young executive who can't hold down a job. It is insane to lend credence to the political and social views of movie stars and wealthy philanthropists because, with some significant exceptions, they simply haven't lived long enough or hurt deeply enough to have anything to say. Buddy Greene, my favorite recording artist, told me once that he asked God to increase the sales of his recordings and the crowds at his concerts. "Do you know what God told me?" he asked me. I allowed that I didn't. "He told me," Buddy said, grinning, "that if He gave me an inch, I would take a mile."

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