I went to the dentist this month.
I really really dislike going to the dentist.
I have a great dentist, and the hygienists are awesome, too (and fast), and that really helps... but still. Ugh. Between the spit and the gloves in the mouth and the sharp, pointy tools and feeling like I never know when to swallow, I find myself getting tense. I always leave with a headache and stiff neck when I'm done.
But I do it. I go. I sit, I open my mouth.
It's uncomfortable and even sometimes a little painful (stupid pokey sharp things), but I do it.
I do it because I know that in the end, it's worth it- spending an hour at the dentist now will hopefully prevent bigger issues later. I trust these well-educated folks scraping at my teeth, and I know they have my best interest in mind. Going through this uncomfortable time now will keep my teeth healthy for a good long time. It's all about the light at the end of that tunnel.
Life is generally a bit more complicated than the dentist, and often we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel when we're facing trials and hard times. Sometimes I know that I've felt like if only I knew the purpose, if only I knew why... I'd be able to handle hard times better.
I want to know the outcome- I want to know that going through this struggle won't be in vain.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4
See, we don't always know the exact results or outcome of that thing we're fighting through.
We don't know the twists and turns our own story may take.
But we do know that the hard things, through our perseverance, through our continued trust in God no matter what comes, will change our character. We'll become complete through the trials, we'll mature and grow and come though as better people because of those hard things.
We're entering a special time in the Christian calendar this week- a time we call Lent. As we "give up" things or begin new habits this year, let's remember those twenty-one brothers who lost their lives- the ultimate sacrifice- for their faith last week.
Our Lenten sacrifices pale in comparison with what they experienced (and what their families are currently experiencing, still). What faith they had- to know that in the end, it would be worth it. They're celebrating with Jesus now. How amazing, huh?
Living life every day, in the twists and trials and hardships that we all inevitably face, we need to keep our eyes on the prize- both the prize in this life (maturity in Christ) and on the ultimate prize at the end of it all- eternal communion with our Creator.