When life hits you hard, would you give in? In the midst of hurts, disappointments,  doubts and fears, brought about by varying circumstances – serious health problems, broken relationships, unmet expectations, unfulfilled dreams– would you throw in the towel? Would you sulk and get angry? Would you turn your back from the world, retreat in your own little corner and hold a pity party by your lonesome? Or would you endure the pain with the hope that this refining leads you  to share in the sufferings of the One who died for you, such that you can one day say, “ Oh, beautiful scars, beautiful scars—thou  have made me more patient, more loving, more compassionate, yes, more like Jesus, our savior.”
 
Endurance… Resilience… Pressing On…
 
This is the gist of the powerful message at Church today delivered by Kay Warren, Pastor Rick Warren’s wife. Poised and classy at 63, she talked from an overflow of life experiences – from being a victim of molestation when she was a child, to experiencing health scares of breast cancer and Melanoma, and to losing a beloved son by suicide. Boy, was I on the verge of bursting with her message (uh,uh…Teardrops temporarily blurred my vision. Thanks to my rickety glasses and my resolve not to be overtaken by my emotions. Otherwise, I could have cried a river). Seeing her looking calm and collected, and sharing banters on her husband’s playful catcalls, no one would think she was a broken woman through and through until she bared her heart. It was a wrenching message, particularly the part where she shared her pain on her son’s death, and how as parent she had to face her worst fear. She has gone through the lowest ebb of her life, and if it were not for her faith in Christ, she could not, and would not be able to stand through all she experienced.
 
Just hang in there,” so she encouraged her listeners. “Understand that in the mess of what you are going through, are precious life lessons to hone your character and  lead you to a place where you can also minister to or help others. Troubles, likewise have a way of exposing the gaps and the holes in our faith and in our relationships. They have a refining purpose, beneficial in the end. According to her, once we bring our scars and present them in light of the scars of Christ’s suffering, something beautiful will come out. We are on track to becoming more like our savior who suffered so much for us.
 
I’m still here,” so did the resilient declare. One by one, men and women of different shapes, color and sizes emerged on stage, after Kay ended her talk. Each had heart-breaking stories, sordid past, addiction and afflictions of varying intensities. “ I am in the middle of a painful divorce,”  “I lost a son by suicide,” “ I was an addict and spent 32 years in prison,”  ‘I suffer from a bipolar disorder,” “I have schizophrenia,” —- broken men and women who had the guts and grit to hang on in spite of the pain they go through, all of them uttering the most encouraging words of the day:
 
                        “I’M STILL HERE.”
 
Yes, each of them endured. Each could declare victory over the challenges they face because Romans 8:37-39 is real to them:
 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  My friend, we live in a fallen world. Life is “harder than we ever expected.”  And Jesus himself said so:
            “…In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome
                the world.”     (John 16:33)
 
But praise God, we are not alone to face our battles. In fact, they had long been won at the cross. All we need to do is declare the victory that Christ already secured for us. And of course, thank Him, deeply and gladly, with our renewed life.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57)
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)