When we watch the news, we grieve all this [unjust tragedy], but when we go to the movies, we want more of it.  Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in.  We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller. {A Million Miles In a Thousand Years p. 31}

Do you ever feel that the life you’re in is too tough, that you don’t know how you can handle it or why God let you end up in the position you are in?

Do you ever want to become a better person, or to “grow”, but aren’t sure what to do about it, because the avenues that present themselves seem unpleasant?

God has lead me down some tremendously unpleasant paths.  I never would have chosen them if I knew what they would have held.  Yet they have shaped me into the person I am, and are indispensable to my journey.  Do you catch the contradiction?

This is why I think God only gives us one step at a time, because if we could view the whole picture, we would get scared off by some of the intermediary steps.  (Besides wanting to jump straight from A to Z and missing the development of the in between).  To God, the journey is as important the destination.

What if I know the next step in my journey, and it’s unpleasant?  What if God isn’t hiding the unpleasantness from me, and is asking me to face up to it, to square off with it?  I’m facing some of those situations now.  I went through one this week, and I have another that I’ve known about for a while and haven’t dealt with it yet.  It hovers over me.  I’m glad for the conviction, but I struggle to face the hurdle.

I think one thing that God wants us to understand when facing difficulties (whether they be imposed by tragedy, or as part of the story God wants us to live) is that growth comes through conflict.  Trees that stand for centuries have weathered many a storm.  Friends that weather interpersonal conflict grow stronger together.  Pursuing God’s call to live as missionaries is unavoidably stormy, but it produces the fruit of righteousness, and a compelling testimony.

Stories are built on tragedies or conflict.  Sometimes in a tragedy, it can seem that God is unfair, and that our lives have been irreparably marred from what they could have been.  Disease and disaster often have that effect.

I think of Scott Rigsby.  I first heard his story through the Ironman Hawaii TV coverage (being the triathlete I am, I have watched them all multiple times).  He was in a car accident as an 18 year old where he lost his right leg, and eventually had his left leg amputated as well.  He went through a difficult time, but eventually completed, as the first to do the distance, the Hawaii ironman race.  He now counsels veterans and others who are amputees and learning to deal with their new lives.  What is beautiful is that, in an interview with Anderson Cooper, he says that he wouldn’t take his legs back if he had the option.  He feels that he’s part of a greater story that he plays a specific role in.  He sees his handicap (that he still did an ironman with) as a blessing.

Time would fail to tell of all those who suffered tragedies who became blessings through, and despite, their circumstances.  God is not responsible for all tragedies (He is not), but He can take our broken stories and create glorious stories of triumph, service, and joy.  And all of God’s stories have happy endings on that day when He comes in the clouds to take us home.

Therefore, let us not shrink from obstacles, nor be dismayed by tragedy, but seek to live the best story that we can, and to treat all our difficulties as but the tool of the Master Storyteller, who enables us to live the best stories possible.