Last summer, through a series of unexpected events, I found myself on a cave-exploring excursion in Mexico. I love seeing God’s creation. There are parts of it, however, which I believe He wants to save for the two of us to explore together one day on the new Earth, after lions have started lying down with lambs and things like that. Caves would definitely fall into that category.
Just reading the brochure made me anxious, but I was determined to be a good sport. The information said we would explore three caves and that we’d have a chance to swim in the second one. To me, that sounded like a choice. When we got to that part of our journey, I made my choice. I would stay out of the water. We were a small group of explorers (imagine that) and the guide quickly noticed me sitting out and came over to make sure I was okay. He asked if I could swim. I assured him I could, but said I preferred to do my swimming on the outside of the earth.
“So, you’re just going to stay here?” His face registered concern, and I suddenly realized my interpretation of the brochure had been wrong. What I had understood as an invitation to take a little dip before moving on actually meant, “If you want to see daylight again you will have to go through the water.”
So that is how I ended up swimming through a cave with bats flying over my head. I wish I could say that by the end of our journey, I understood its purpose, but the truth is, I still didn’t see the point. I was just glad when it was over.
Isn’t that how it is with the trials in our lives? We have no choice but to go through them, and we may not see any purpose in them at all.
Yet, scripture tells us God does have a purpose.
James 1: 2-4 says one of the reasons we go through hard times is to grow our faith.
Several years ago, I memorized that passage of scripture and whenever I think of it, I’m reminded of the following story.
While in the car with my four-year-old granddaughter one afternoon, I was trying to learn the verses by repeating them out loud. When I came to, let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything, Bailey piped up from the backseat.
“That’s not nice,” she admonished me.
“What’s not nice?” I asked.
“Not liking anything.”
Bingo. Bailey’s version pretty accurately describes how life feels in the midst of trials. While I’m on my way to not lacking anything I’m usually not liking anything about the process.
The point of this passage, however, is that we should rejoice anyway. (James 1:2)
Recently, in a post called Reasons to Celebrate, I wrote about that very thing and I included a list of reasons to rejoice. Too bad I didn’t have that list as I swam through the bat cave in Mexico. I can use it now, though, because apparently my bat adventure is not yet over. I must still be lacking something those creepy creatures can help me learn because a crew of them are making themselves comfortable in our attic. Turn about is fair play, I suppose. I invaded their home so now they’re invading mine. They’ve worn out their welcome, however and, ironically, I find myself rejoicing that God created caves. It gives bats somewhere else to go. I hope he located one nearby and they’ll move to it soon.
Of course, when they’re gone, I may have to find a reason to celebrate mosquitoes.
I’d love to hear your stories of celebrating in the midst of trials. Please share your experiences in the comment section below.