Friday, September 21, 2012

the theological holes found in the phrase "this too shall pass"

I just started running this past spring.

I figure it this way:

our bodies were created to move.


Scientific evidence seems to prove this.  Showing how muscles which remain inactive for any length of time begin to atrophy.

The definition of muscular atrophy:n a wasting of muscle tissue, especially resulting from lack of use. There are numerous causes for simple atrophy of muscle, such as chronic malnutrition, immobilization, and denervation. {source

So my motivation for running was not primarily to look amazing in my swimsuit {although, let's be honest, it's not too shabby of a by-product...}, but to get off my butt and MOVE.

Now I wish that chasing after my 2 sweet littles all day long would constitute as legit "movement", but it doesn't.  How do I know this?  Because my weight gain has increased drastically since birthing those precious babies of mine.  And if chasing babies was adequate exercise, we'd all be a size 0.

Maybe someday I'll be toned up.  Maybe someday I'll run a 5K.  Heck, maybe even a marathon!  But let's not get ahead of myself...

The actual point of this post isn't about the long term goals.  The dreams.  Or even surviving the day.

The point of this post is to focus on the next step.  The next moment.  My next breath.

Believe it or not, last night as I laid in bed, for the first time, I was actually excited to get up, out of bed, and go on my run.  {Trust me, I never thought that day would come.}  But here it was.

My mind was filled with all the things I've come to enjoy about my runs:

Watching the rays of sun dance through the trees.
See the sun start low in the sky and continue it's ascent high above this beautiful city.
Feeling my heart in my chest.
My muscles warm.
Stepping in time to the beat of those crazy, intense workout songs.
Feeling the cool morning air brush against my hot skin.
The goosebumps that result from that.
Seeing the cars and buses as everyone races to work.
The runner's high.
A great start to each day.

As I ran that morning, I absorbed all of that.  I enjoyed the MOMENT.  I enjoyed the PROCESS.  I wasn't focusing on "how much further?", "when will this end?", or "can't it be over already?  I think I'm dying!".

When I was happy with where I was on the trail, I had the strength to get to the next part of the trail.  Yet, when the "finish line" was my focus, it made my running feel heavier and more labored.

And it hit me.  Now I know why I have a pet peeve with the phrase, "this too shall pass."  I, myself, have used this phrase in the past to help me to endure difficult situations.  Finding comfort in the fact that what I was enduring is simply a phase in my life and it will soon be over.

But what if it's not a phase?  What if the situation is never healed, rectified, or improved?  What if it never passes.  How does one find comfort if the bad things happening never ever ever go away?

 Warren Wiersbe once said about the providence of God:
God isn't in a hurry but will fulfill His plans in due time.
Our time is not God's time.  So "due time" may mean "not in our lifetime."

We need to be reminded that God is not subject to our timetable.  Even though we may not see his justice in our lifetime, his justice guarantees that all unfairness will be dealt with.  Biblical history proves that God is consistent in his justice and that all things work together for good for those who love God. -John Thomas Oaks

Maybe I should look at it like this instead: if I am always focused on hurrying to the finish lines of life, then I will make life more labored and exhausting for myself. And I will inevitably miss what God is doing in my life.  I will miss all the blessings that He gives and that can be abundantly found within the process.  Don't believe me?  Have you tried looking for them?  Like, sincerely tried?

I could potentially miss the lesson God wants me to learn
by always focusing on trying to hurry through the hardship.

Think about it this way:
The point of my trials isn't about getting them over with.
The point of my my trials is about going through them.

Maybe that's it!  Maybe it's about the good God has given us while INSIDE the storm.

I attended Moody's Homecoming Week a couple years ago and one of the speakers said,
You are either IN a storm, coming OUT of a storm, or headed INTO a storm.
Storms are a part of life, aren't they.  No one is exempt.  Is it safe to say that life is usually more difficult than easy?  And if it is easy, doesn't it soon become difficult again?

I bet you feel like I've just ripped away all source of comfort when life gets hard? That I've plopped your troubles in your lap and said, DEAL WITH IT!  But no.  God does not leave us in that hopeless place, so neither will I!

With what does one replace the hope found in "this too shall pass"??  Is there even any hope at all??

OH YES!  THERE IS!  Do not fret!

To paraphrase Carolyn Culver, in her study book Protected by God's Providence, we can depend upon God as He has revealed Himself to sustain us in life's trials.

Meaning?  God's Word (the way in which He has revealed Himself to us) provides unlimited promises to us as we struggle to live this life to provide us HOPE!  He may sovereignly give us our struggles, but He provides the tools to endure it all! Praise God!  Right?! 

In Psalm 32:8, it shows us that God promises to instruct, teach and guide us!

In Jeremiah 33:3, God promises to show us great and mighty things that we don't know yet, if we only seek Him!

In Nahum 1:7 explains that God is strong in the day of trouble if we trust in Him because He knows us!

John 20:31 gives us assurance of life through our belief!

Hebrews 4:15,16 tells us that God understands our infirmities because He, Himself, has been there.  This means we can go to Him and obtain mercy and grace in our times of need!

1 Peter 5:7 encourages us to throw all our troubles, worries, concerns upon God because he cares for us!

And there are abundantly more verses in the Bible that can provide so much more comfort and assurance in times of struggle, rather than the infamous phrase "this too shall pass".  So grab your Bible and start looking.  You'll be overwhelmed to tears, of that I'm certain.  Hope abounds.  And it's found in the person of Christ NOT in theological catch phrases. 

To conclude,
if we are always focused on getting past the pain, we will miss the joys that can be found in the process.    

This too shall pass?

I sure hope not...


  1. I think you are spot on.

  2. Like this! I was thinking about this just the other day. We moms of littles have a tendency to want to "get through" whatever stage our kids are in and go on to the next. (terrible twos, etc) But in doing so we miss out on so much. I have (and continue to) asked God to help me relax and savor and learn from every moment (even the tantrums, LOL).
    The process is just as important as the end.
    thanks for the reminder! (and all the scriptures, I will be exploring those today!)

  3. The desire to "get through" never ends. Truthfully, as we've gone through our own set of struggles the last 18 months, the promise of Heaven was what got me through. It may never come out "right" here, but it will all be made right by God.

  4. This was so good. But i also want to say that I'm so glad you're running and now enjoying it. Its so good for your body and mind and spirits. I wish we could run together now. :) i love running for all the reasons you talked about


Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul. -Unknown