Life without pain is painful

If you had to ask a world-renowned sports athlete how he became so prosperous he would say that he suffered. If you had to ask a famous writer how he has become so crafty with words and sold many books he would tell you he suffered.

I heard this today in an interview with Jon Foreman, the lead singer and guitarist from the band Switchfoot, great band by the way, and he overheard it from someone else at the store funnily enough. Long story short the message he wanted to bring was that there is light in the chaos, a reason for adversity. if we never struggle in life we may struggle!

My favourite passage in the bible comes from a story in 2 Corinthians 12:10. It’s when Paul gets a thorn in his flesh and at first he is angry that it has happened to him but then comes a moment where he has come to terms with it. A moment of euphoria.

He then says: “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions and difficulties for when I am weak; then I am strong.”

Through the pain and suffering he finds his strength in God and grows from the experience. I’m sure there was an experience you had in your life that was seemingly impossible at the time but now would seem rather doable, perhaps easy.

I had that moment just recently, I do find it hard to say that it will be easier and less stressful next time around but even so I will at least know how to deal with the situation a lot more efficient.

I was challenged with an amount to pay that was just too much. Although I have some savings in case of an emergency I would still not be able to cover it. I would have to take out a loan that would possibly take me at least a year to pay off while I change my lifestyle to extreme minimalism. Practically never eating out. Not buying miscellaneous items I might need. Not putting money aside for my future. Nothing.

I had that plan but it was stupid. Flawed. I only started to get a better way to sort out the problem by seeking counsel from my mom. Aren’t they always the best advisors?

So I would have to plead to the other party and request that there is anything they can do, but I was nervous, worried what they would say. So I gave it a day. That evening my life group worshiped and sang the song Good Father. It reminded me how good He is, crazy isn’t it? The coincidence. Even though things are not going the way you want them to, even though you walk through the valley of suffering, fear and even though it seems impossible God is good. Maybe I do take out a loan, maybe not. Regardless He is good.

I started to declare it. When I was ready to confront the other party I was filled with peace and it turns out I couldn’t have gotten a better deal. I saved myself from a large loan. I was thrilled.

You may look at adversity and shake but I look at a time of suffering to produce growth(sometimes). What God also said in that passage is this:

” My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

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Crucible at sea

25 September 2018 was an ordeal which I will want to never forget. It was a life-changing experience. What Christian and myself planned out to do was not even close to the actual happenings of the morning. It was genuinely a near-death experience but neither of us feared the outcome for we knew in our hearts God would somehow get us through it. It also helped being with someone through it all, someone who kept me sane, someone I cherished.

The morning started off at 5:15am. It wasnt easy getting up but we were both eager to see the sunrise. Arriving at the shoreline with the kayak held firmly in our hands we headed towards the ocean. The waves looked calm. The wind was rather strong but we weren’t aware of its power.

Paddling in to sea was simple. The waves weren’t bigger than 3 foot. After a brief moment of paddling we made it through the shore waves and into the ocean. To our demise the sunrise was blocked by a giant cloud. We waited, hoping it would appear but the sun was absent. We decided to row against the current seeing that time was on our hands and just wanting to see the sun from the ocean.

After 15 minutes of rowing we saw the sun at last, it was high above the horizon but the collection of colours made the view beautiful in its own way. For a moment we were lost in its beauty, admiring God’s creation, we did however decide to turn back and that is when our adventure began.

The south-westerly wind was a lot stronger than anticipated and pushed us in the opposite direction we were going. We paddled hard to fight the wind but we were making no progress. Christian was adamant that we could make it fighting the wind so we pushed on for a while but still, no progress. Eventually we decided that we would have to follow the wind for a while. In my mind I knew we were going to end up kilometres away from our starting point but I never told Christian because I wanted his hope to remain while in the storm.

With our new plan commencing I realised that we needed assistance because we won’t be able to succeed without God’s help. At first we paddled vertically from the waves and I kept asking God how to get through it. Everytime our arms were sore and we took a break the kayak turned towards the wind. It was safe to say we needed to go in that direction.

Pain and frustration kicked in together with lots of capsizing. The kayak capsized 15 times that day which is no exaggeration whatsoever. At times we thought we were making progress, other times we were certain that we did not move.

At one of our rests the boat stayed in its direction, making it known that we made it through the wind. Hope and joy started to return but fatigue and frustration crept in too. Through all of it though neither of us gave up, we pushed through. After 150 minutes we made it to land! However it was 10 km from our starting point, the walk would be agonizingly long for our energy levels were low and a kayak needed to come with us. There was no other thing to do but walk because we were at least 4 kilometres from any house.

The first thing Christian said before we carried the kayak back was: I really hope a good samaritan with a bakkie comes to rescue us. Low and behold both of these things came to pass. It did just take 90 minutes on foot with a kayak till we got to the bakkie. The man who rescued us was Thomas, he helped us carry the kayak for 90 minutes. Not many people in their right mind would even admit to help someone and he did it with a loving heart. God clearly sent him to rescue us. The man told us his wife normally drops him off when he ventures to the beach but today he was told to bring his bakkie with. How radical is that, he was told to do something even though he had no idea why. It just shows you how one can be obedient in a small way and in that obedience help someone in a big way.

Through it all God was in us and around us. We prayed for strength and it was received. We prayed for wisdom and it was so and above all we prayed for safe travels and not a single bone was broken.

I was taught many things that day, firstly that God is in control, you may plan out your life but God has the final say. It’s also not necessary to plan five steps ahead but to sometimes just focus what’s on hand. God only gives as much as what we can handle.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps-Proverbs 16:9.