Let’s continue with the wand idea, but this time, apply it to a lovely little girl Gabriella. Once you read through the outline of her life, you have five minutes to wave your wand and change anything in her life that you want to.
Gabriella has a slight speech impediment. Anxiety makes it worse, and she is teased and mimicked in grade school. In high school, two in her group of friends are killed in a car accident. Finances are difficult in college, so Gabriella works long hours as well as keeping up with her studies, leaving little time for socializing. A professor encourages her to sign up for an unpaid internship which could lead to a great job, so Gabriella moves in with her grandmother and works as her assistant to pay for room and board—which means, at most, five hours of sleep a night. After graduation and six more months of internship, Gabriella lands her dream job. She meets the man of her dreams and they marry. She works overtime, starts catching up financially, but loses her job in a financial downturn. Gabriella sinks into a depression, her husband leaves, and she’s again faced with bills she can’t pay.
The clock’s running. You have five minutes to rewrite the script of her life. Go!
What did you do? Did you take out all the stuff that caused Gabriella so much pain? Did you wave your wand—“abracadabra”—and take out all the obstacles that she had to face? Did you give her success after success, beauty, abilities galore, and adequate finances? And what is Gabriella like at age 30? Is she happy and content? Is she the best version of Gabriella that she could be?
Wouldn’t it be great if we ran the world? We could fix everyone’s lives. We wouldn’t let all this awful stuff happen to good people—that makes us so angry! Why does God let this suffering go on?
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:2–5 (NLT)
Maybe we should rethink this a bit. The apostle Paul tells us that suffering and setbacks can actually help us to reach our full potential and growth. When we live in the flow of the Spirit, our trauma can actually produce people with deep roots that drink His life-giving nourishment and flourish. It’s a trust issue.
It’s advent–a time of coming into being–a time of growing deep roots. I trust He is coming. I trust He is here.