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The undramatic


Where do we turn in our darkest hour?  We’re often told the answer to this question reveals the true inclination of our heart.  When everything good is stripped away and we must leap from that quivering line separating faithfulness from rebellion.  Wrapped in the blackest watch of night the marrow of our character lies in wait.  The heavens drop silent in anxious anticipation, how will we respond?

While perhaps an interesting and poetic contemplation, I wonder how much light this truly shines on our spiritual character.  If I really consider the bleakest moments in my life, I find a fervent pursuit of God.  The choice is clear.  Turning away in this moment would require a conscious rebellion against our Father. Yet the test is only valid in one direction. If you fail, you must deeply consider whether or not you are even a Christian.  If you pass however, this still leaves the remaining 99% of your life unaccounted for.

Our focus is quite natural.  Young boys begin very early to imagine themselves a great hero, striding in at the last moment, valiantly saving the day.  I’ve yet to see a 6 year old cast off his superman cape and say dad, you know I really just want to find glory by diligently persevering through the small daily struggles in life. Of course not.  This is not exciting.  We crave dragons and swords, great battles and heroic rescues.  I don’t wish to disregard these passions, life would be horribly bland without this fire in our gut.  But it really does little to prepare us for the vast majority of life.  The slow and grinding adversity, far away from the banners and trumpets of war.  It is in these moments a Christian is defined.

Exciting moments of faith certainly exist.  A martyr undoubtedly passes through the darkest hour imaginable.  In humility we imagine we would falter in the moment.  Yet, I believe many of us, faced even with the ultimate test of our faith, would hold fast.   True, a martyr must act upon tremendous faith, but the calling is short and the reward close at hand.  In the final and often brutal ending, God seems to pour out the entirety of heaven on the faithful servant.  Stories of martyrs are filled with calm and faithful Christians facing their persecutor with inexplicable peace.

We are not martyrs of course.  For us, the challenge arrives not in a grand moment, but in a thousand little discouragements.  Discouragements so small, we can’t imagine it worthwhile to bother God with a plea for help.  Our cry for support from fellow believers suffers as well.  How many times have we kept quiet a simple prayer request of encouragement because it sounded too trivial next to our neighbor’s petition to heal cancer or save a marriage.

This is a great loss.  If we could view, in a moment, our entire life stretched out before us, we would see the great majority filled with a collection of small victories and failures.  It is in the tendency, the pattern, of these moments that we discern the faithfulness of a Christian.  Let us come to our Lord with the intensity of a martyr and hurl the peace upon the common and ordinary trials of our life.


Comment from tim
Time October 24, 2008 at 8:47 am

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Jim. The daily “picking up of our socks” is the true test of endurance in the Christian faith. I sin far more often in the attitude I take when asked to help with the laundry than when faced with the deep and tumultuous valley of despair. The source is pride (I’m better than this) and selfishness (My time’s more important that this). Once we begin to grasp the depth of our daily “undramatic” sin, I believe we will begin to develop a passion for the gospel unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.

Comment from Melissa McEwen
Time October 24, 2008 at 11:49 pm

It’s true that our faith is rooted in the little trials and tribulations of our lives in America. However, when thinking about such things, do you ever wonder about the role free will has in this? This seems to be struggle for many Christians. I, myself, am just beginning to reflect upon this. But, ultimately God has a plan, right? And in His plan are our many shortcomings and sins, right? This is probably way off base with what you’re actually talking about here. But, I think it has some relevance. What do you think?

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