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Wednesday Wondering - May 22, 2024


Philippians 4: 12 - 13

12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

John 14: 27

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.


I have been wondering lately about this idea of struggle and healing. I believe that there is some real truth in the fact that we all have struggled at some point in our lives. In might be said that having to struggle is a fact of life. Yet, sometimes when we are in the midst of struggle, we wonder if we will ever be the same again. I think that when we find ourselves in the midst of struggle, and we have come through the struggle, we have been changed.

I read something on social media the other day that speaks to this idea, “My dad and I once had a disagreement over him using the adage ‘What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.’

I said, ‘That's just not true. Sometimes what doesn't kill you leaves you brittle and injured or traumatized’

He stopped and thought about that for a while. He came back later, and said, ‘It's like wood glue.’

He pointed to my bookshelf, which he helped me salvage a while ago.

He said, ‘Do you remember how I explained that, once we used the wood glue on them, the shelves would actually be stronger than they were before they broke?’

I did.

‘But before we used the wood glue, those shelves were broken. They couldn't hold up anything. If you had put books on them, they would have collapsed. And that wood glue had to set awhile. If we put anything on them too early, they would have collapsed just the same as if we’d never fixed them at all. You've got to give these things time to set.’

It sounded like a pretty good metaphor to me, but one thing I did pick up on was that whatever broke those shelves, that's not the thing that made them stronger. That just broke them. It was being fixed that made them stronger. It was the glue. So my dad and I agreed, what doesn't kill you doesn't actually make you stronger, but healing does. And if you feel like healing hasn't made you stronger than you were before, you're probably not done healing. You've got to give these things time to set.”

The scriptures also could be understood to be related to the idea of struggle. Paul’s letter to the community at Philippi speaks to the idea that we can come through our struggles if we rely on the one who strengthens us. The reading from John speaks to this idea that Christ came to give us peace, not the peace that we would expect from the world, but something more and in recognizing this we are to trust in this peace so that even in the midst of struggle and strife we are not to let our hearts be troubled and not be afraid. I understand how much of a challenge this is, not to allow our struggles to overwhelm us, but maybe it is not about letting our struggles to overwhelm us, but rather maybe it is to understand that we might be overwhelmed, but even if we are overwhelmed, God will be there to help carry us through. We oftentimes think that we have to be strong in the face of struggles, but maybe it is important to know that there might be times when our strength may wane, but God is always there with us. It is much like that poem,

“Footprints In The Sand” where the author saw only one set of footprints during the most difficult of times, only to be told that those were times that they were carried.

I wonder if when we think that that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger we enter times of struggle as if they are battles that we must win. If we understand that is isn’t the struggle that makes us stronger, but rather the healing that allows us to become stronger, we stop focusing on the struggle and rather focus on the healing. I read the following, “I love calm people - the ones who use their words to heal rather than hurt, who are patient when challenged, who prioritize peace over seeking validation, and who try their best not to cause anyone any harm. These are the people I resonate with most.” To see struggle as a fact of life, something that will come to each of us throughout the course of our lives, is important. To understand that in the midst of struggle we are never alone, that God is always with us, journeying with us through those times of struggle in our lives, gives us some hope. To see that is not the struggle that makes us stronger but rather the healing that comes after the struggle, that is what makes us stronger, can help us to understand struggle in a new way, not as that which is the focus of our lives, but that which we go through and it is what is on the other side that really matters. To enter times of struggle, with patience, not allowing the struggle to make us angry, hard-hearted, and hurtful, allows us to see that struggle should not hold sway over our entire lives. Yes, times of struggle are difficult, they are hurtful, they cause us pain and suffering, but knowing that as we struggle, God struggles with us can help us through these times and we can move toward a time of healing. To struggle is to be human, to heal is to be stronger, and that is what is important.


God of presence, we ask for your presence during all times of our lives, the times of joy and celebration, the times of struggle and strife. We ask for the patience to come through those times of struggle in our lives. We also ask for the courage to find healing once we have come through the struggle. We ask for the faith to know that you are always with us, throughout it all. We ask all of this in the name of the who came to be present with us, your son, Jesus. Amen.

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