It is encouraging to look back over the past and see how troubling times turned out well in the end. Many places in the Bible refer back to the story of the exodus from Egypt, and how God’s divine intervention forever changed the course of history. Remembering when God brought good out of troubled times helps keep us mindful that God can do the same today for each of us.
In a recent airing of America’s Got Talent (2017), the show auditioned a 29-year-old singer and musician named Mandy Harvey. Ms. Harvey had a long-time dream of pursuing a career as a singer/musician but lost her hearing at the age of 18. She had to drop out of the school; her dream was cruelly crushed. But she found ways to overcome, and is now able to sing and play and write music she cannot even hear. A YouTube video of the audition can be found here:
Sure, it’s TV entertainment. It’s a little sappy. It is also inspiring.
I had one of those eureka moments while watching the episode: had Ms. Harvey not lost her hearing, her audition would have been fine. People would applaud, she would get good reviews, and it would be an enjoyable experience. Ho hum. The fact that her dream was so obviously destroyed by deafness is what makes it a compelling story.
The eureka moment for me was realizing that our hardships, pains, losses are the catalysts that turn our good stories into great stories. The difficulties are what make our stories beautiful. And for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, we can marvel how the hand of God transforms our situations, our lives, our stories… into beautiful masterpieces. Our weaknesses made perfect in His strength. It is not our story, after all; it is our small parts in His story.
Of course I do not want people to suffer, but suffer we will. It is a part of being a human. When we suffer, we have a choice how we respond. We can fold and withdraw, or we can embrace the reality of our suffering and rely on God to create a way to endure. Encountering each new difficulty forces us to make that decision again. And again. And again.
There are many people whose difficulties will not be removed in their lifetime. They are no longer hoping for a cure, a resolution, or closure. They are looking for grace to keep going. No amount of human effort or willpower will relieve their suffering. No matter how much effort or energy they could apply, the scenario will not change. Even in these cases, God can make something beautiful.
When you only have one option, it simplifies things. Ms. Harvey demonstrates that principle in her audition video. When there is only one way, does it matter how hard that is, in the end?
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” Romans 8:3-5 (Message)
One more thing on this topic: what if Ms. Harvey had not auditioned on ATG? I, for one, would have missed out. Sharing her story made an impact on me and many others. Sharing your story might just do the same.