I was watching a program on TV where a little boy, aged six, was performing a magic trick. He took a piece of string from his pocket. It was about eighteen inches long. Making a fist with his left hand, he pushed the piece of string down between his thumb and forefinger. With a big smile and declaring his magic word of “abracadabra,” he waved his right hand over the left and then pulled out the string. It had several knots tied in it. The boy then took the knotted string and pushed it into his fist and shouted the magic word again, “abracadabra!” He pulled out the string and it was once more a string without knots. The little boy smiled at the applause.
I thought to myself that the piece of string is a lot like our lives. We would love the paths we take to be smooth, without any knots of difficulty along the way, but life’s roads are filled with bumps and ruts. Why does God allow difficulties, we may ask ourselves. I find it interesting to note that, not only does God allow the crooked places in our roads, but He often designs them. We read in Ecclesiastes 7:13, “Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what He has made crooked?” Do you find that concept difficult to accept, especially when we know that God does all things well and for our good? Why would He design a difficult path for us to take?
Have you ever trained for a marathon? Have you enjoyed watching the skilled olympians during the Olympics? If you’ve been in the armed services, you will be well aware of what boot camp entails. Does anyone reading this watch American Ninja? What amazingly difficult obstacle courses for those athletes! To gain anything worthwhile in life, there are deliberately planned barriers and hurdles along the way. Why? They make us stronger. They sharpen our skills.
It’s the same with anything we purpose to do in life, whether we want to sing, or act, or dance, or teach, or practice law or medicine. Without the exhausting, and at times, seemingly impossible tasks to conquer along the way, there would never be success. Isn’t that a daunting thought? It really is true, the old saying, “no pain, no gain.”
It’s no different in our spiritual worlds. If we never had a struggle in life, then how would we know the strength of our heavenly Father? How would we ever know the joy that He lovingly gives to us in times of emotional upheaval? How would we know the sweet relief of His peace if we never knew a broken heart? It is through the pain, that indeed we gain, sweet trust that emotionally equips us to get through anything. It’s like that favorite song of mine by Andrea Crouch that reminds us, “If we never had a problem, how would we know that God could solve them?” It’s an amazing joy that cannot be measured, when we experience our God changing the impossible into everything feasible. It’s such experiences, after times of slogging through the knots and ruts in our road, that puts the ecstasy in all the crooked places of our personal worlds.