Lessons From The Lobster
One of the most often-asked questions I get asked as a pastor has to do with pain and suffering. In my experience, people who are going through difficult seasons almost always want to ascribe some kind of meaning to what is happening to them.
But sometimes, there doesn't seem to be any meaning to ascribe.
"It seems so pointless sometimes," a church member, who was going through a very rough patch of life told me once. "I am fine with accepting God's will, and I get that sometimes stuff just happens, but this just feels meaningless to me. It's like God's cruel joke."
In the past I have been guilty of answering these kinds of questions with platitudes. "If God brought you to it, then God will get you through it," comes to mind.
There's truth in platitudes, don't get me wrong. But it seems to me that what we need most in our valley-of-the-shadow seasons is to be able reframe our suffering and hardships in a way that leads us to a deeper connection to God.
I read recently that in the first year of it's life, a lobster will shed it's shell up to fourteen times. Shedding it's shell takes the lobster about ten days, and during that time when it's naked, vulnerable and without any armor it will grow seven percent.
When we go through seasons of loss, hardship, tough times, pain and suffering we often find that the "armor" we've constructed on our own (a false sense of safety, security coupled with our own strength) falls apart. I know that feeling all too well.
But, almost every moment of spiritual growth in my life came after a season of shadow. After I've experienced hardship and suffering, I have discovered a deeper sense of God's presence. I've drawn closer to God and stronger in my faith after I've known vulnerability and seen my self-constructed armor disintegrate.
May you find in the midst of your hard times a sense of God's real presence in your life. May you find that the meaning you seek within the season of shadow is the strength you gain through your full and complete reliance on God in the midst of it.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.