I remember two distinct times in the distant past when I walked past Tracie's vehicle, jumped into my pick-up, and promptly backed into Tracie's vehicle. It was NOT the two best days of my life! In the first case, I ended up paying a hefty price for repairs and a new paint job and for obvious reasons the insurance company was not involved. Imagine me describing how I damaged my own vehicle and wanting them to pay to fix it.... I would love to share these two days as the only ones I regret and that'd be a lie.
The second snafu did less damage and no major repairs were required, unless you consider the repairs needed for my ego! My kids couldn't figure out why I backed into mom's van then walked up the driveway staring into the sky muttering as I went.
In both cases, a valuable lesson was learned. Don't be a dolt. No, really, the lesson I learned is that sometimes bad things occur in life. It doesn't mean the life is over, it just means that a new normal is emerging. New normals in many cases often include pain and suffering. The accidents did not define who I was or who I would become. The accidents did help me address some idiosyncrasies in my life that needed to be adjusted. In spite of the damage and subsequent financial burden I placed my family in, something beneficial came out of the aftermath.
I'm reminded of the poignant scene in Cars 2 where Mater is being retrofitted with a new body and weapons system. As Holly Shiftwell is about to take one of the dents out of Mater's body he is quick to stop her and point out the dent was something he treasured because it was incurred while doing something with his good friend Lightening McQueen. I resonate with that scene a great deal. The places I hurt and the things I suffer are never welcomed nor are they sought, but they come never the less. It is in the acceptance of these challenges and trials that my faith is tested and strengthened. With each hardship, comes a valuable life lesson. With each new dent, comes a memory of something with intrinsic value. To deny that these hardships bring pain would be ludicrous. To embrace the pain that is tempered with a life-lesson is wise even for a dolt like me.
I suppose we could debate whether God places these hardships in our life or not. I, for one, think hardships are part of living in a broken and fallen world that groans in anticipation for the return of Jesus (Romans 8:18-22). However, I also believe that God uses and reconciles these 'dents' and scratches for our good and with great purpose for our edification.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, NIV)
Believing God would allow pain into our lives in order to have some good come out of it is not a warm fuzzy popular thought, but they are my thoughts and fairly accurate from a scriptural perspective.
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given
me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to
take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in
weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may
rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in
persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NIV)
Our latest failure or setback does not need to become our lifelong identity. If we let it be so, then we have effectively allowed the power of sin and Satan rule over what Jesus has already offered us. Embrace your dents and trust God is working for you in the pain.