One of the unexpected revelations during my cancer and chemo journey last year was that everyone is dealing with something. If you’re facing a life-threatening foe like cancer, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and act as if you’re the only one having a rough time – but it turns out you’re not alone in your trials.
Let me explain…
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was amazed by how many friends told me their own stories about facing that dreaded disease, either in their own life or with a loved one. I had no idea this was such a widespread experience.
However, many friends came to me with stories about dealing with other kinds of difficult situations. Some were having conflicts in their marriage or were disappointed in the decisions their kids were making. Others were feeling devastated by financial setbacks or emotional pain such as grief, depression, or loneliness.
Several months ago, I had an enlightening conversation with some church friends who seemed to have the perfect marriage and family. At least it looked that way on Facebook and Instagram. Seeing their public persona, I’ve often been tempted to envy them.
Yet these friends shocked me by sharing about some recent conflicts in their marriage. And while their children all looked like little angels on social media, it turned out that each of their kids was dealing with some kind of problem too. I had no idea.
Suddenly I realized that the reason these friends could be so vulnerable about their own difficulties was because they knew about my health struggles. Bald from chemo and having virtually no energy, it was obvious things weren’t going very well in my life. This was embarrassing to me at first. I would have preferred to project a more positive, victorious image.
But how surprising it was that my hardships ended up providing an unexpected blessing: Seeing the struggles I was facing, people felt like they could safely confide in me about their own battles.
Perhaps an even greater epiphany was that everyone on this fallen planet is dealing with some kind of challenge in their life. The stressed-out cashier at Walmart…the frustrating colleague at work…the grouchy neighbor…the annoying driver on the freeway…the Facebook friend who posts angry political tirades – whether we realize it or not, everyone is dealing with something.
What an important lesson! Just as I want people to be patient with me when I’m going through hard times, I need to have patience with the “thorny” people I come across in life. Whether I can see it or not, they’re all dealing with some difficult situation, no doubt.
As the apostle Paul wrote, temptations and trials are “common to humanity” (1 Corinthians 10:13 CSB). So if you’re dealing with unpleasant circumstances today, join the club. You’re certainly not alone.
Amid Job’s terrible hardships described in the Bible, he was reminded by his friend Eliphaz: “People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire” (Job 5:7 NLT). Good point! To one extent or another, trouble is an unavoidable part of the human experience.
Although Job’s friends sometimes did more harm than good, in this case Eliphaz continued with some good advice: “If I were you, I would go to God and present my case to him. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles” (Job 5:8-9 NLT).
Notice that these words present a difficult paradox. On the one hand, humankind will inevitably face trouble along life’s way. But on the other hand, we’re told that God is a miracle-working God. In every situation, we must go to Him and present our case.
Perhaps you are feeling like Job today. If so, my heart and my prayers go out to you. But as hard as it may be to realize in the midst of fiery trials, God is not mad at you and He’s not your enemy. He’s inviting you to run to Him and present your case, based on the promises in His Word.
At the end of his story, Job’s life was restored in every way. In fact, “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12 NKJV).
My friend, whether in this life or the next, God’s plan for you and me is a happy ending. Yes, there will be trials and tribulations along the way. But that’s not the end of the story.