Do you have trials in your life? Do you have challenges? Do you have days that just refuse to cooperate with the lovely plan you mapped out? What about the days you don’t map out. When things go wrong on those days is that a trial or just an unplanned script? A trial can be anything from an unexpected challenge at one of the great wonders of the world to a life long struggle with an illness. That’s the beauty of a trial. Since it’s your life, you get to make the determination and you get to live with the results.
Jackie and I traveled to China several years back now and while we were there, we were blessed to be able to visit one of the great wonders of the ancient world, the Great Wall of China. It was one of the most anticipated parts of our trip. We were extremely excited and had difficulty containing ourselves on the ride over. When we finally arrived and the bus parked, we were in awe. We were finally here! My initial thoughts were that we were going to have a nice leisurely stroll along the great wall with my coffee in one hand and Jackie’s hand in the other. It was going to be great! Of course Jackie was going through her own setback in that the bus driver had announced that we would be leaving in 45 mins. “Are you kidding me!!! We came all the way to China to see the Great Wall and we get 45 minutes!!!?”
Then reality set in. We walked to the base of the wall and without our coffee or extra time, began to climb the steps. Fifteen minutes into it, my thighs were burning and my head was swimming in sweat. Needless to say I heard no further complaining from Jackie about the limited time on the wall. It was really hard to gasp for breath and swallow crow at the same time while climbing this stairway to the heavens, but we persisted to the third tower. Now it was time to walk down and I feared the trip down would be even harder and it was.
So what is the takeaway from this trial? What are we supposed to learn? Well I learned that there is a HUGE difference between a walk on the Great Wall and a walk in the park. We have many trials and setbacks in life. Some are more severe and some less, but they all provide us the same opportunities.
- A Lesson.
In every trial there is a lesson of what you could have done better or even differently, but it requires honest reflection to understand the lesson and adjust your rudder. If the challenge was self-inflicted, then this is the easiest lesson because it has to do with you which is the one thing you have control over. If the challenge or trial was inflicted by others, then this is more difficult in that we have to manage this lesson through a relationship which can be messy. If the challenge is simply dealt by life, then as Jim Rohn said “It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” Learn from the trial and adjust your sails for calmer waters. The lesson affords us the opportunity to improve ourselves and become better at this game of life. When we get better, we give those around us permission to be better as well.
- A Response
Newton’s Third Law of Physics states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When something goes wrong, your fault, someone else’s fault, life happening, what is your reaction? Do you get angry? Do you focus blame? Do you take a cruise down the river De-Nile? Lou Holtz said that “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” Another way to say this is trials will reveal your character, but if you persevere in your trial which is a positive response, you will produce character and hope and hope does not disappoint (Roms 5:3-5). Which leads to the final point.
- A Following
In this journey of life, there are very few things that we achieve solo. In fact outside of scratching our nose or other menial tasks everything requires the participation of others. So when you go through a rough patch ask yourself who am I supposed to take on this journey of discovery with me? Of course the premise of this question is predicated that you are committed to points 1 and 2 meaning that you know there is a lesson and you are prepared to respond favorably. Who can help you with the lesson? Who would it serve to learn the lesson with you? Who can help me with my response? Who will it serve to see my response? This attitude will add value to those around you and attract those participants in your life that will help you avoid more of the stormy seas.
So what was the lesson Jackie and I learned from our bout with the Great Wall of China? Well… we realized it was first and foremost a blessing for us to experience China and the great Wall. It was even sweeter that our oldest daughter experienced this ancient land and culture with us. Once we accepted this lesson, our response to the wall was different. Our legs still burned with fatigue, but the scenery became a natural salve. We stepped into the experience as a family which created unity and gave us a testimony to share with others. As they say, some people miss the trees for the forest. Stop and smell the roses even if there are bees buzzing around your nose. See what the Lord has in store for you in this journey of life. Experience the growth the Lord has for you. Jim Rohn says: “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” Helen Keller said: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strenghthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” The trials can be blessings unless you repeat the same behavior that charts your course repeatedly into the stormy seas. Who are you putting at the helm of your ship?