I Survived

Have you ever been to a theme park where you could buy a t-shirt that read, “I survived {fill in the blank} rollercoaster”? You can get a t-shirt or mug commemorating just about any life event in the name of, “I survived”. There are numerous TV shows that showcase an individual’s capacity to survive every extreme, from bodily exertion to outlasting other women, crammed together in a house clamoring over a rose (or something like that). The idea of survival is deeply inbred in all of us by the Creator and the accomplishments that this drive can achieve can be quite entertaining to watch and awe inspiring to say the least.

In more practical terms, watching true survival should make us stand back in awe of God. Think about watching a NICU baby fight for his life or a soldier in battle, maneuvering his way through great adversity to accomplish to his mission.

Whether you are trying to survive a difficult college class or fighting to endure another sleepless night as a new mother, we are all well versed in survival.

Google defines ‘survival’ as: the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.

In all of these scenarios, continuing to exist is the goal. This brings me to my point at last.

Is survival the intention of life?

At the end of our days, are we going to be greeted at the pearly gates with white robes and a t-shirt that reads, “I survived planet earth”? I’ll admit I’m not fluent in Greek, but The Word doesn’t seem to indicate that Christ is interested in our survival of circumstances, but rather, how we survive.

Of late, this question has challenged me.

One of my favorite and far too frequented phrases include, ‘I’m fine”, which, being interpreted means, “I’m surviving and not about to die, thanks for asking.” This catch-all phrase is widely used in our society today, and probably truly what people are looking for when asking, “How are you?” In casual greetings, an average person is not truly interested in the full explanation to their polite greeting, but rather saying, “Please tell me if you’re about to cease existing so we may continue our interaction to get our needs met and carry on.”*

*Obviously, this scenario is not an absolute and hopefully not found among close friends and family. Please don’t berate the next person who asks you, “How are you?” by saying, “Don’t bother asking, I know you’re just being polite…”

I typically take it upon myself to even tell others, “You’re fine”, as if to say, “Stop complaining, you’re not about to die”. Further, I will even qualify another person’s state of well-being after analyzing the situation by saying “Oh, she’s fine”… Audacious, to say the least, and please pray for my friends who have to deal with me. Empathy and compassion are not high up on my short list of qualities, obviously, but we’ll save that conversation for another time.

As with all situations, the Bible has a perspective on surviving. In Romans 5 we hear:

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us… (read the rest here).

Boasting in suffering? Well, that’s new.

Ok, hang on, we’re going to move quickly. So, God gives us grace through faith in Christ to boast in His glory. We can get through suffering because of this ‘hope of the glory of God.’ Hope is our survival tactic.
If you’re human like me, that doesn’t seem like enough. That sounds more like something Disney would say, ‘just have hope.’
Hope is not a static characteristic, it is a process, further, hope is a choice.

What is the process?

You start by a change of perspective, when it comes to suffering.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “A Christian man should be willing to be tried; he should be pleased to let his religion be put to the test. ‘There,’ says he, ‘hammer away if you like.’ Do you want to be carried to heaven on a feather bed?

Realize that suffering isn’t for your harm, but for your good… Gulp. That’s hard to swallow, but that is the truth.

It’s just the same when a toddler tries to touch a fire. You do all you can to stop them, telling them ‘no’, blocking their access or even swatting their hand. They may see this as undo punishment and suffering, but you, the adult, know that this is for their safe keeping. When they have matured, they will understand (hopefully). You love them, therefore you put them through ‘suffering’ to save them. If that stubborn toddler chooses to touch the fire in spite of your warnings, that physical suffering can be used for good even still. They may see that you truly were wise to keep them from the fire. They may get to experience your compassion and healing techniques that will show them how to be compassionate in the future.

 

The next step, is to choose to continue the first step, every day. Perseverance is born new, each day. When you are tempted to believe the lies of the Deceiver, such as, “If God loved you, He wouldn’t make you suffer” or “You deserve this punishment”, force yourself to focus on truth. I cannot stress enough the importance of force of thought. (Here’s a list of things on which to focus)
You will believe and act upon that which captures your attention the longest.
When you choose to believe and focus on Truth each day, this becomes a characteristic, similarly a habit. I can only hope that I can be known as someone who chose to believe Truth, habitually.
Whatever she said was true.” What a compliment, what a challenge!
When this Truth focus reaches the ‘characteristic’ level, we then have hope. Hope through suffering, that this too shall passHope that God is using this for His glory. Hope that this suffering is for our betterment and protection.

So where do we start if we’re only at stage one?

You start right now (literally now), by asking God for grace to persevere and for a desire for Truth. Then, you immerse yourself in Truth, that being God’s Word.
Even if you don’t understand or even enjoy It, read It. Start in Psalms or get in touch for where to go for Truth. Finally, wash, rinse repeat. That’s it.


The answer to the opening question, Is survival the intention of life? No, survival isn’t the goal, but rather the journey toward’s our eternal goal. That journey is a choice, each day. It can be a beautiful journey if you so choose. I guess my, ‘I’m fine’ response needs to be put to rest. Maybe a better response would be, “I’m enjoying the journey, how about you?”

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