1 Peter 4:12a Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on to test you.
The last two winters in Memphis, as in many other parts of the country, have been particularly cold and snowy. A snowy day in Memphis means there could be no sign of ice or snow on the roads but if there is even a hint of white in the grass, a day off of school is warranted. My children were celebrating one such day last February with their cousins by racing on scooters down the hill that runs in front of our home.
One moment they were all laughing, the next my eldest, Hannah was splayed on the pavement with a broken hand. After seeing an orthopaedist it was recommended that Hannah's break be surgically corrected. On the morning of her surgery, Hannah came out of her anesthetic-induced fog in a haze that disoriented her to her whereabouts as well as my identity. The car ride home was peppered with questions about who I was, where she was and what was happening. When we rode up the hill that had been the cause of Hannah's pain, something beneath her anesthesia alerted her to its' association with her current discomfort. She looked at me with wild eyes and pronounced in no uncertain terms, "I don't like this hill."
This morning I am reading Revelation 8. This chapter outlines four of seven great trials that many theologians consider tragedies to come during the future period in time referred to as the Great Tribulation. Fire from heaven, bitter water and blackened heavens are each described. Personally, I have not experienced any of these but I have endured the burn of rejection, the bitterness of divorce and the darkness of depression.
During times of trial and difficulty it would be understatement to say, "I don't like this hill." Sometimes we don't choose our hills, they are chosen for us. At other times, we find ourselves sliding down hills of our own device. No matter how we end up there, pain and brokenness inevitably result.
However it is my pain and brokenness that drive me into the arms of God. In the weeks that followed Hannah's surgery she was in pain and grossly inconvenienced. Her hand may have been broken but her spirit was not. She displayed strength of character and perseverance and she endured her trial with grace.
Jesus, a fiery ordeal may be lurking just around the corner. When one next rears its' head may my heart be driven to Yours. There is the source of water that quiets fire, love that sweetens bitterness and light that bans the darkness. I may not like every hill You allow into my life but when I encounter a particularly slippery one may I do so with character and perseverance. After all my body may break but my spirit doesn't have to.