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Learning from Both Suffering and Fun

Description

It’s hard to really know what you’d do in an emergency until you are in one. It’s actually when things go wrong that you learn what you are made of and made for.

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Hebrews 5:7-9 (NIV)

I knew my smoke detectors worked because I had just tested them and changed out the batteries a few months before. But I REALLY knew they worked when I woke up at 3 a.m. to the sound of four smoke detectors going bananas in my house.

Every light was off, every appliance was off, and I didn’t see smoke or flames. But I smelled plastic burning. That 3 a.m. adrenaline rush and my barely awake fog combined to make for random running from room to room, panicked praying, and some yelling.

Firetrucks came. Firemen stormed through my house. I did not fall in love with any of them. (This has been a frequent question since I’m not married yet, and eight men were in my house that morning, but to date, no Hallmark movie will be written around this story.) They found nothing askew and nothing on fire, but they smelled it too. The next day, the heater repair company sent a specialist out, and he found the problem and fixed it.

It’s hard to really know what you’d do in an emergency until you are in one. Just like it’s hard to believe your smoke detectors will work until there is smoke in your house. The same is true for you and me — it’s actually when things go wrong that you learn what you are made of and made for.

That was true of Jesus, too. As Hebrews 5:7-9 records, Jesus suffered, and that’s how He learned trusting-obedience:

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

We want to learn through the best days, at the parties, and when we are having fun. We want the lessons that change us to come around a dinner table with our best friends, laughing and sharing cheese. (I love sharing cheese.) But that’s just not how it happens.

The smoke detector doesn’t go off at the sound of laughter; it goes off when there is smoke. Who we really are, what we are really made for and made of, is revealed when there is smoke, when there is struggle, and when there is suffering.

I love talking about fun. I deeply believe that one of the ways we survive the worst this life has to offer is by finding a slice of fun in each day. But we have to balance the things — the joys and the suffering.

The moments of suffering teach us and strengthen us; the fun moments remind us to be vulnerable, human, open, and whole. The balance is required — we need both. We need to laugh around a table, but we need to obey when it hurts too.

To be fully human is to hold on to both suffering and fun, appreciating ALL the moments. We must allow the fun to flourish and the suffering to do its work. This is how we become who we’ve always wanted to be … this is how we grow, and this is how we learn.

Heavenly Father, suffering is not our preferred method of learning, but we know it is powerful. Jesus modeled that for us so well, and we walk in His footsteps. Remind us today, when a trial or pain shows itself, to lean on You, learn from You and choose trusting-obedience over fear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 4:8-10, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
For more thoughts on how to learn from suffering while pursuing joy, check out Annie F. Downs’ new book, That Sounds Fun.

CONNECT:
Annie has many guests on her That Sounds Fun podcast who tell their own stories of suffering, joy and trusting-obedience. Join the conversation (new episodes every Monday and Thursday) wherever you love to listen to podcasts!

Enter to WIN your very own copy of That Sounds Fun by Annie F. Downs. To celebrate this book, Annie’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, February 8, 2021.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What lessons have you learned during a recent time of suffering?

How can you incorporate something fun into your day today? Can you invite someone else to share that fun with you? Share your thoughts in the comments today.

© 2021 by Annie F. Downs. All rights reserved.

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