I'm thinking a lot about John 6:60 this morning.
It's a pretty obscure verse where, after hearing Jesus talk about the menu to gain eternal life, His followers reply with, “This lesson is too hard. Who can hear it?”
In subsequent verses, some of Jesus' followers turned back and no longer followed Him.
I think it says a lot about how the human mindset hasn't changed much in 2,000 years: We give up easily when the lessons become hard.
As modern-day Christians, we don't have the luxury of sitting in the physical presence of Jesus, hearing His voice and listening to His teachings. Today's lessons and tests of faith are like "on the job training." They're lived out in the course of our daily lives.
It's really easy to become discouraged or to allow ourselves to become jaded in our faith when life becomes difficult.
At some point or another, I think everyone who ponders the existence of a loving God wonders how He could allow the atrocities and tragedies that occur in this world to happen.
I wondered that myself two years ago this week, when I faced the heartbreaking loss of an extended family member.
I dedicated my novel, in part, to the memory of that family member because of the impact his loss had on my faith.
It strengthened it.
God has a reason for everything.
That's a lie we're told, a tired platitude that continues to be recycled because well-meaning people think it provides a sense of comfort in times of trial.
I don't think the people who repeat these words really consider the implication behind them. That implication is that God causes chaos in our lives in order to make way for something else.
That's not true.
God doesn't cause chaos. The chaos is already going on around us. It rises from our sins, our poor choices, our haste, and even our honest mistakes.
When that chaos leads to tragic circumstances, we often are left with shattered remnants of what we once considered our lives.
Our faith provides an epoxy to put those pieces back together, but we're never quite the same.
"When troubles come, when adversity comes, the devil has made his biggest mistake because he has thrown you to the feet of Jesus." These words were once spoken to me by a Baptist minister during a conversation we were having about facing troubling times. They resonated with me so deeply a variation of them ended up in my novel.
I think the true test of faith lies in the basic acknowledgement that God is there, that we are at His feet in times of tragedy and heartbreak. He's waiting with an outstretched hand to help us put the pieces back together.
Do we take his hand and accept His help or do we turn our backs and mutter that the lesson is too hard?
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Kathryn Harris is a journalist, a weekend blogger, a wife, a mother of two and the author of "The Long Road to Heaven," a novel about finding faith and forgiveness in the aftermath of addiction.