Sometimes I forget how old I am. There is nothing like a really hard trial to transform you into a child again—a student—trying to learn the lessons of life so that the pain will stop and peace will replace it.
In church, the old hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee” opened its treasure to me. I’ve sung it a hundred times in my life, at least. Probably more. And never “heard” it.
“Nearer, My God, to Thee”
“There let the way appear,
Steps unto heaven;
All that thou sendest me,
In mercy given . . .”
Oh! I get it! God in mercy sends us the growth opportunities, life’s hard lessons: tragedies, trials, insurmountable difficulties. Why is it merciful for us to suffer?
Because the way appears . . . the path opens up . . . steps unto heaven.
It is because He loves us, in mercy He let’s us learn. He orchestrates learning. Just like any good parent. We do it too, for our child’s benefit.
“. . . so by my woes, I’ll be
Nearer, my God, to thee
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!”
Our woes can draw us to God, if we allow them to. Nearer to God. The hard things are really the door opener so we can learn to know God. Challenges disguise themsevles as obstacles, but they are really stepping stones.
The speaker at church talked about Happiness. He said, “my hobby is to be happy”. I thought to myself how very much I need to make it a conscious decision, to make happiness a hobby for me, too, since I am often overwhelmed, frazzled, frustrated, and hurt by the grinding day-by-day challenge of Ammon’s recovery. At the peak of a very difficult few weeks, Ammon told me I didn’t smile anymore. I hadn’t realized. Happiness a hobby . . . it is by our own choice and effort that we smile, that we count our blessings, that we feel gratitude and focus on the good things.
The speaker’s formula for happiness:
2- Serving Others
3- Personal Integrity
5- Being considerate (. . . and I would add: never judging others)
We already know those things are what make us happy, but it is easy to forget to choose them when life gets intense. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
If pain is the rocky path leading one nearer to God, so be it. It would be a small price. Soul stretching lessons are difficult to live through, but the education they provide is priceless.
I want to learn.
God, help me want to learn.