A Place of Training

It’s been a rough week.

After two years of orthodontic torture and enduring near constant discomfort in order to get my adult tooth pulled down where it should be, I was told that the tooth had died in the process.

This journey has been a roller coaster of eager hope crashing down around me, only to be carefully pieced together and revived again. After all, what is life without something to hope for?

The latest news sent me spiraling, numb, into gloomy disappointment and disillusionment.

Why hope? hope-2

I thumbed the pages of my Bible indifferently. Did it even matter? My brain felt calloused. I didn’t want to feel this way…but I couldn’t help it. In the past, I’ve wrestled through times like this by being thankful, grudgingly at first, but gradually moving out of the bog into grateful living.

I tried to thank God for my dead tooth, for the rest of my strong, healthy teeth, but it was forced, fake.

The pages fell open to Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

“Truth”, I thought. But it wasn’t comforting in the slightest. If anything it made me sink lower into my despondency. My hope had definitely been deferred, leaving my heart ill with worry and confusion. So how on earth do you stay strong in the faith – believe with all your heart that everything is for the best and trust, trust, trust – when your heart is impaired because of hope that never happens?

I hit a new low the next evening and felt like I would burst from the burden of, what I later realized was, unsurrendered pain. My dear parents prayed for me and we talked it out until late.

The next morning I turned to my daily devotional titled, What Do You Expect?

“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you will find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” C.S. Lewis, God in the Docks

Ah, that’s my problem. I think I’m entitled to certain things in this life – marriage, health, good food, good friends, a decent amount of money, a job I like, fun things to do, and the opportunity to travel – among others, I’m sure. While it’s not something I’ll readily admit, that’s just what it is – expectations I have of life. When one of these gifts fail to meet my expectations I feel cheated. I doubt God’s goodness. I get heart sick because my hope is deferred.

“Sometimes we expect that life should be happy and pain-free. But that is not what the Bible teaches. For the believer, this world is a place of spiritual development through both good and bad times. Jesus was realistic when He explained what to expect out of life. He told His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation…” Dennis Fisher Our Daily Bread October 9, 2014

Why do we think we deserve more and better from life? It truly isn’t the Word of God that gives us this impression! The Bible is filled with warning us about a life of trials and encouragement to get through them.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

“Imagine a set of people all living in the same building.”, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable.”

This keen illustration left me thinking about how I perceive life and what I am expecting from it. Quite a lot to be honest. I want a grand hotel where I’m pampered and waited on. But God has different plans.

Christ continues His dialog with His disciples, “But be of good cheer, I have over come the world”. (John 16:33) The devotional ends with these words…

In facing life’s blessings and bruises, we can have the inner peace that God is orchestrating events according to His sovereign plan.

This life is a place of training. It’s not a 5 star resort where we can kick up our feet and vacation on the beach. Truly, trials make us stronger. Pain surrendered molds us to be the people God meant for us to be.

There really is no reason to hope… in things of this world. But hope in God is not futile.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord.

20 thoughts on “A Place of Training

  1. Beautifully written, Sarah…It is as your blog is titled…deeper still…

    Do not be discouraged for He will never leave you, or forsake you…
    I know comfort will come…

    “Yahweh is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

    “Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

    Love you… <3

  2. I am sorry to hear about all that pain and discomfort of orthdontal work and lose a tooth any way. I had braces as a kid and understand… I agree with you. That why are we surprised when lifes trials and tribulations knock us down. Adam and Eve were cast out from Eden. The world that they were banished to was our world. The bible’s description of that world was not a pleasant place to live or an easy life. That is our world we live in now. I like you for years was still surprised when tragedy struck my life or hardships. Lifes lesson have taught me realize that it is just life. God will see me through no matter how it turns out.
    Thank you for a thought provoking post. I read that the bible has 365 verses telling us not to be afraid

    • Thank you for the encouragement! It’s so true that “it’s just life” and that God is gracious to see us through it. I believe someday we’ll be able to look back and see all the puzzle pieces, that don’t make sense to us now, forming a beautiful work of art. I can’t wait! :)

  3. Thank you for sharing. I needed this today. Being the mother of two prodigals is very painful.
    Isaiah 43:2 encourages me. I have taken Proverbs 13:12 and cried and prayed over things but God always seems to bring me back to His being my Shepherd and that I must be the lamb that Trust in His care. And Yes, the Bible does tell us of the sufferings we will go through and to expect it. Our Saviour suffered and so will we.
    I have seen the desires of my heart change over the years and through the trials. The things of this earth have grown strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. And what I do see on this earth and enjoy more so now is His creation that seems to teach me of Him.
    This morning I read Psalm 119:135 and truly I do want to see God make me to learn of Him and make me holy, and I know that means to go through storms that grow me.

    Your post always encourage me to stay close to God, IN HIS WORD, and to Trust in Him as The Almighty Sovereign God.
    Thank you again for posting this. You may not realize it but God uses YOU in my life and in the lives of others to help us along The Way.
    I will pray for you also to remain close to Him. Love you.

  4. Thank you for this post, Sarah!! Get a second opinion on the tooth, though!!! Micah was told that her left lateral incisor was dead and they actually had an appointment set to take it out. She got a 2nd opinion and it’s still alive today. <3

    • That’s very encouraging, Grace! Thank you for sharing. I’m going to leave it alone for as long as I can and do some natural things to help strengthen my teeth, gums, and nerves after all that pulling around. There’s definitely a chance that the dentist could be wrong! :)

  5. Pingback: I Thought I Was In A Hotel | God Running

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    • It sounds like God definitely has you in a place of training right now! Just know that it’s because He lives you SO much and “When we are tried, we shall come forth as gold”! Blessings!

  7. Pingback: Turns Out Life Is Not A Hotel: Suffering Part 3 | God Running

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