The Mercury SuperChair tilted back as it began its final incline to the top of Breckenridge’s Peak 9. We all knew the routine…there was no avoiding what was about to occur…we just had to tuck and cover to avoid the onslaught. There were only 30 chairs to go, so we tucked our chin inside our coats and covered our faces with our gloves as the bitter, cold wind began its assault. The wind’s weapon of choice: skin-piercing ice-shrapnel flailing toward our faces at 40 miles per hour. We were completely defenseless.
My buddy leaned over and screamed into my left ear, “I know we’re supposed to be tough enough to handle this, but I just want to cry right now! I’m just glad you’re on the end.”
I just nodded and thought to myself, “It’s too cold to cry. My tears would just become more ice-shrapnel for the wind to pelt onto someone else’s face.”
We dismounted, scooted over to the embankment…slightly out of the wind, and despairingly peered up to the top of Peak 10. The wind was blowing snow across the top of the peak masking it from our view. We were heading down to the Falcon SuperChair which took us up to Peak 10, over 1000 feet higher than where we currently shivered, significantly windier, and all black-diamonds or double-black-diamonds the entire way down.
“Are we still doing that? My friend hesitantly asked, “Do you see that wind?”
“I still want to,” his wife answered. “If I don’t push myself, I’m never going to improve.”
“Yep…what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger!” I finally said as I clipped in and took off down the run.
The wind’s assault upon the Falcon SuperChair was worse than ever before, but the runs on Peak 10 were superb. When we reached the base, we all agreed: By pushing ourselves and persevering, we reached a higher skill level and matured as boarders. We became more prepared—closer to perfection—closer to our ultimate purpose as snowboarders.
Here is a true statement:
Nothing tests one’s skill, vitality, integrity, or faith more than pain, persecution, and suffering.
The Apostle Peter puts it this way:
“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.”
—1 Peter 1:7 (The Message)
That’s exactly what happened to the nation of Israel before Pharaoh released them from bondage in Egypt. Moses, their supposed deliverer, marches into the very courts he once called home and demands that his uncle grant his entire labor-force a short, 3-day vacation so they could worship God in the desert.
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Pharaoh was angry that Moses would even distract the Hebrew slaves by making such a request. As punishment, Pharaoh no longer provided straw for his slave’s bricks. Instead, he forced his slaves to find their own straw, but he didn’t reduce their quotas. By making that simple request, Moses had created an even bigger problem for the Hebrew slaves. Their situation in Egypt had gone from bad to worse.
Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23).
God knew exactly what He was doing. The Israelites had to come to the realization that God’s promise and purpose for their life was better than their situation in Egypt. They had to suffer more now than they had ever suffered before or they would always want to return to their former way of life. They had to endure pain and affliction in order to become more prepared—closer to perfection—closer to their ultimate purpose as God’s people. Even after suffering under the heavy hand of the Egyptian slave drivers, many Israelites forgot how tough they had it: Only two and a half months after God delivered them from bondage in Egypt, the Israelites grumbled, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16:3).
Almost always, when God prepares us for our purpose, our current situation goes from bad to worse. Jesus put it bluntly:
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The author of Hebrews expounds, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).
Like snowboarding—or just about anything—without pain, there’s rarely any gain!
God had an amazing thing planned for the people of Israel—a “Promised Land”…an inheritance…“a land flowing with milk and honey.” They just had to persevere through persecution, trials, suffering, and pain in preparation for their purpose. They had to endure “pain” in order to “gain” their inheritance.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has an amazing thing planned for followers of Jesus as well—a “Promised Land”…an inheritance…a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28).
The Apostle Paul summarizes this blog post in the best possible way, so I’ll just let him do it:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 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. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.