Sometimes faith is like the Karate Kid. We’re trapped in the middle—wax on wax off, paint the fence—without any sense of purpose or outcome. Are we being played? Used? What’s the point of all this, anyway?
When we’re sweating in the dark, a faith of cute baby angels and “smile, God loves you” just won’t cut it. In these seasons I find myself resentful, confused, fear filled. What is faith in such times? How do we keep on waxing and painting?
- We clarify. Painful as they are, paint-the-fence times provide a chance to get clear. What really matters to me? Really matters enough to risk my safety and security? Dr. Martin Luther King did not intend to preach his “Mountaintop Sermon.” With his life was in danger, and he had no plans to attend the gathering in which he uttered those potent words. But when invited, he came. As he speaks, we see him gain courage and clarity. Dr. King was killed shortly after preaching his Mountaintop Sermon. What he died for lives on.
- We act. In attending to those tasks which relate to our highest value we apply wax where it is needed. We act in faith, no matter how we feel. And in the acting, we gain soul muscle. A caution: we can over-function during waxing times, believing we’ve somehow fallen short of expectations and more effort will fix things. And that’s where Point Three comes in.
- We care for ourselves. Imagine a child enduring a painful season. Would we berate the child with “should haves” or heap on extra chores? Instead, we’d say “whatever you are feeling is okay; I’m here for you.” Enduring these seasons is grueling. Let’s be good to ourselves.
- We remember Miyagi. Why does God allow some things that happen—or not happen? It seems to unjust. Uncaring. Recalling God’s daily gifts of creation beauty, love of family and friends, good food, and cleansing water helps us give God the benefit of the doubt. Mr. Miyagi, it turned out, had a good purpose in all those chores.
How do you hang on during trying times? What, for you, is faith? We’d love to read your thoughts.