Like the Israelites in the Bible, we long for security – Nirvana, Shangri-la, the Promised Land. We pray for world peace and share the Irish blessing. You know, the one that goes – May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and rains fall soft upon your fields…
Although we say we desire tranquility, we immerse ourselves in movies that keep us on the edge of our couch cushions. We stay up late reading just one more chapter in a suspense novel. And we glory in the real-life stories of heroic heart-stopping adventure found in books like Endurance, Unbroken and Chariots of Fire.
Years ago, a friend said to me, “I admit it. I’m addicted to drama!” Every time we talked, she had an astonishing new tale to tell. Her life was chaotic, but despite her whining, that’s the way she liked it.
What gives? Are we all bipolar? What is it we really want in life?
The truth is, without drama and trauma and challenges that stretch our courage and endurance, life would be a ho-hum bore. Like a heart monitor that straight-lines, indicating loss of life and vitality, the same-ol’, same-ol’, day-in and day-out routine without peaks and valleys, setbacks and surprises, would make for a walking death.
Humans cross oceans, run marathons, swim channels, ride bulls and jump out of airplanes for the thrill of conquest, the sense of accomplishment, the rush of adrenalin and endorphins, and most of all, to ward off boredom. From the Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement, here’s what two inmates had to say about their uneventful days and nights. “Boredom is a major enemy. …Slowly it tears you down, mentally and physically.” “Time descends in your cell like the lid of a coffin in which you lie and watch it as it slowly closes over you.” (http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/sourcebook_02.pdf )
Even though we chafe at adversity, at least something is happening in our lives, something we can respond to and conquer. James 1:2 in the Message Bible says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”
Laurence Gonzales writes in Deep Survival that “Ultimately, it is the struggle that keeps one alive. What seems a paradox is simply the act of living: Never stop struggling. Life itself is a paradox, gathering order out of the chaos of matter and energy. When the struggle ceases, we die.”
Does life feel like an uphill battle? Never stop struggling. Are you discouraged? Never stop struggling. Are you suffering? Never stop struggling. Have you hit impasse in a relationship? Never stop struggling. Buckle down and gather order out of chaos.
Paul Stutzman, the author of Hiking Through–One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail, writes in the epilogue: “When I started this hike, I never imagined how difficult it would be. Had I known, I would never have attempted it. The trail is much like our lives. We never know what difficulties we’ll encounter on this earthly pilgrimage. What we are assured of, however, is a finish line.”
The longer I live, the more I’m aware of life’s brevity and uncertainties—and the challenge to fight the good fight, as the Apostle Paul termed it. In Hebrews 12:1, he wrote, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” We may not hike a 2,176-mile trail, like Mr. Stutzman, but like him, we can find peace through prevailing…all the way to the finish line.
Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, the setting for her Kate Neilson novels. She currently lives in Idaho, where she serves as an editor and a mentor for aspiring authors and as a coach for women transitioning from prison to life on “the outside.” Winds of Freedom is the sequel to the award-winning first book in the Kate Neilson series, Winds of Wyoming.