What Can Our Challenges Teach Us?

Stop me if you have ever had this experience... 

You know that you need to have a conversation with your [coworker, relative, spouse, child, or friend], and you know the conversation will be challenging, so you keep finding excuses to put off having the conversation. 

Or this one... 

You have a task that you need to get done, and it's the one task that you know will be the most [boring, difficult, draining, or impossible] task you have to do for the week, so you keep moving other things up the to-do list, so you don't have to do it. 

Meanwhile, you can feel the guilt gnawing at you inside.  You fret about it, and it never leaves your waking thoughts.  You can't stop thinking about what you should be doing or who you should be talking to, and then you start losing sleep on top of everything. 

If I have described anything familiar, guess what?  It means you're human. Because we all do this from time to time, but when we do, we lose the opportunity to learn from the hard things we often face. 

I am no fan of how you learn more from losing than winning.  I'm also not fond of the notion that each challenge we face is a chance to learn something valuable, mainly because I prefer my life to be free from hardship. 

But the fact is that we learn from the challenges we face, and if we can get our minds around this fact, we can begin to see hard things as opportunities instead of hardships. 

Author Melody Beattie puts it like this: 

We sometimes resist new lessons.  And what we resist the most is likely to be what we most need to learn... Sometimes the very thing we feel guiltiest about doing, the place we're most resistant to visiting, the person we're most convinced we shouldn't contact, or the behavior we're tormenting ourselves most about is exactly what we need to be doing. 

The Apostle Paul once wrote:  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

I've written about this passage of Scripture recently, to be honest. It's one of my favorites of Paul's, and I have wrestled with its hard truth a fair amount over the years. 

It continues to teach me that I shouldn't avoid the hard things, no matter how much I want to, because they each have something to teach me about myself, my relationship with God, and others.  

By surrendering to this, we can live a life filled with serenity and confidence.  We can turn over our outcomes to God no matter what we face and trust that whatever we need to learn is precisely what we need. 

May this be so for all of us, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever.  Amen.  


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