Tuesday, October 5

Rough Roads

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 hand. --Isaiah 41:10

Most anyone who has survived the critical decade (ages 16-26) will agree that life can get rough. Sometimes God presents us with challenges that are not easily overcome, and not quickly forgotten. When we're on those rough roads, it is easy to give in to feelings of doubt that make us question if God is really in control, and we wonder if it's fair that being a Christian doesn't automatically guarantee that life will go smoothly.

I often struggle when I'm traveling the rough roads. I go through phases where the smooth straight-aways of life feel too few and far between. When God takes me off-roading (spiritually speaking) it is a bumpy, uncomfortable ride, and usually a scary one.

Throughout college I hit more rough roads than I care to admit. I had to drop a number of classes here and there because I got too sick to keep up. I also had to repeat quite a few classes, and make up some incompletes along the way. There were days when I felt too frustrated to continue, and after nearly every grueling final, I swore I wanted to quit because it was so hard.

My spiritual and emotional life also hit some bumps. I wrestled with God in anger on several occasions. I blamed him for things that hurt me very deeply, and I questioned whether he really was a loving God. I didn't understand why people and things that were very dear to me were taken away. It took quite awhile, but I came to accept that I don't always have to understand God in order to have faith that his plan is best.

Although life certainly isn't as smooth as I want it to be--and I'm sure many other people feel the same way--God gives me the persistence I need to keep traveling the rough roads, and to trust him when he leads me there. When he takes me off the beaten path, he shows me things that I may have missed otherwise. When I have to slow down, God uses that time to teach me how to appreciate the here and now, and not be so concerned with rushing forward to whatever is next.

So far, the rough roads have forced me to learn how to make careful decisions. They have also taught me to trust God to lead me safely through unfamiliar territory. As much as I hate to admit it, I realize that those times have been and will continue to be character building experiences. Sometimes I think that I would rather be less of a character, and have fewer of those difficult periods in life, but I am learning that the rough roads are where God shows me the path he wants me to follow.

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