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The journey from March 2013 to now has been one fraught with struggles, disappointments and set-backs. There have been good times, too, don’t get me wrong. But mostly it’s been a journey through a tunnel, looking for the light at the end.

I read something remarkable this morning in 1 Peter that I know I’ve read before, but it never struck me like it did today:

5 You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials 7 so that the proven character of your faith — more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:5-7 (CSB)

There are several things that jumped out at me:

  • Our faith, or more succinctly, the character of our faith is more valuable than gold;
  • And, like gold, we and our character are perishable, but are refined by fire;
  • We are guarded by God’s power! and our salvation is sure!

It has taken me 40 years to realize these truths in my life. I think for years I believed…

…that it is God’s responsibility to prevent bad things from happening, and often this expectation is disappointed. Embracing the Christian faith does not provide an insurance policy against the suffering that is common to human existence. The profession of faith in Christ may in some situations cause suffering.NIV ZSB Notes

Like just about every other lesson I have learned in life, I had to learn it from experience. The suffering, struggles, disappointments and set-backs have honed my character and these things have happened:

  • My walk with God is closer than it has ever been, finally surrendering to Him (I had no other choice!);
  • My relationship with my wife is better than ever;
  • I have a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

I would not give up those things for anything—I may wish that I didn’t have to go through all that we’ve gone through to reach this point in our journey, but I doubt that I would be where I am today without having done so.

Garth Brooks was on to something when he wrote these lyrics to the song, The Dance:

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have to miss the dance

My one quibble with Garth is that our lives are better left to God, not chance—for there is no such thing as chance.

By the way, the tunnel pictured above is a railroad tunnel in Tunnel Hill, Georgia and was used extensively by troops during the Civil War.