I could hear the cries of my next door neighbor coming from her open kitchen window as I rounded the corner into my side yard.
“That’s enough! That’s enough…..waaahhh! Please! THAT’S ENOUGH!!”
Terry and I were about the same age – preschoolers at the time. We’d known each other since our toddler days and we were constant playmates.
I’d heard those cries before so I knew what was happening. Her mother was washing her hair in the kitchen sink. For whatever reason, Terry was terrified of having her hair washed. Even at that young age I remember wondering, why doesn’t she just get over it?
Don’t ask me why this memory popped into my mind after so many years. But it got me thinking how we sometimes really hate – even fear – things that are for our own good but not fun.
We don’t like to study for exams in subjects we despise in school. We hate taking foul-tasting medicine when we’re sick. We’re scared to death of those tests the doctor wants to do when we reach a certain age. And do you think Jonah liked being in a big fish for three days?
Nope. We want a shortcut. We want a way around the tough times that inescapably come our way.
But don’t we have that exactly backward?
The apostle Paul steered his Philippian friends in the opposite direction. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Yeah, it goes against our nature to welcome tough times but doing so will grow us in ways that just aren’t possible when things are peachy.
Athletes understand this. Workouts can be painful and exhausting. During exercise muscles are actually physically damaged and broken down. But with adequate recovery time, proper nutrition, and all the other care athletes know to give their bodies, the long-term result is larger muscle size and greater strength.
Problems and trials produce growth
So it is with our spiritual and emotional testing. “We can rejoice, too,” Paul wrote to the Romans, “when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character…” It isn’t always fun, and it isn’t always quick. It too can be painful and exhausting. And it’s usually pretty hard to “just get over it.” But the long-term result is greater strength of spirit, emotion, and character.
That is, if we don’t give up or look for a shortcut. Even when everything in our being wants to cry out, “that’s enough!”