Yesterday at the doctor’s office, the assistant queried me about the level of pain I felt during a procedure I was undergoing. When I expressed discomfort, she brought me this tiny tube of ‘relief gel’ that is designed to ‘desensitize’ me to pain. I mock-expressed dismay at the tiny tube and requested a vat-full of the miracle relief instead.
I experienced a few moments of satisfying comfort just imagining myself soaking in a big tub of the stuff whenever life got uncomfortable or painful.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
It made me think of Staples’ Easy Button campaign designed to convince customers to take the ‘easy way’ in getting their office needs met. How many times do we face difficult circumstances and wish we could press the Easy Button to take care of matters?
However, with most of our challenges, the only way OUT of them is to go THROUGH them. Life provides us with endless opportunities to grow, get stretched, and overcome. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, the saying goes. I think we would all agree that those painful seasons, though excruciating at times, always bring us to a new level of power and hardiness, especially if we cooperate. No pain, no gain.
Human nature almost always desires the easy way out. Not just in our difficulties, like experiencing sickness, financial troubles, or emotional devastation, but also in our learning and growing opportunities. If given a choice in learning something new, how often do we usually try to slide by with the least amount of effort and cost from us?
Our outlook plays an important role in how much we choose to resist or embrace our trials. Do we view them as a chance to tackle and conquer, trusting that we will become better people in the process, or do we see them as something to avoid and complain the whole way through about how much it hurts?
I’m not advocating the idea that we all become martyrs or always choose the painful route, possibly subtly letting people know how much we are ‘suffering’. But there are times when we can benefit greatly by welcoming our problems, seeing them as Divine compliments, knowing an end WILL come, and realizing there is a purpose for us as we plug away. We can look back and see how the journey has transformed our thinking and our character—all for the better.
One of my favorite authors says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 The Message)
I think if we choose to conquer life with a positive attitude, once in a while, we get to enjoy heaven-sent fellow journeymen who are willing lighten our load by sharing their Relief Gel with us.
Choosing the Easy Way or the Hard Way