I am not one who reads psychology books very often but I was intrigued by reading a review of a book recently put out called, Rising Strong, by Brene Brown. It is a book which focuses on how people overcome the significant obstacles they have encountered in their lives. For 13 years Brown studied those people who had significant failure in their life yet found the strength to get back up and move on. The book focuses on what enabled them to do it. She had some lines that really resonated with me, which I have put in italics.

“He or she who is the most capable of being uncomfortable rises the fastest. There is a huge correlation between a capacity for discomfort and wholeheartedness. If you can’t manage discomfort it sends you barreling into perfectionism, blame and rationalizing.”

We sort of know these things down deep in our heart of hearts, but that does not mean we have processed them into something useful in our lives. The word “buffeted” comes to mind when I read her words. I imagine a navy seal in their training drills. You may have seen an example. They are undergoing immense pain and discomfort in ice cold water, struggling through it because they know it is the only way that they will become hardened to the pain. They submit to the pain and their trainers because they understand that it is designed to help them survive later on under similar conditions on the job.

Yet, strangely when we are in pain or discomfort we naturally tend to ask God for deliverance from it. Can you imagine a navy seal laying in the cold surf for 24 hours crying out to his trainer- “just make it stop”? Yet this is what we do with God many times. We pray to be meaningful, but without any pain involved.

“When failure does not hurt, it is not failure.”

Failure is another type of pain that God brings into our lives. Real failure does hurt. It leaves a mark on us that can take years to fade. The question becomes what we will do with the pain. Will we whine about it and ask it to stop; or will we submit to its cleansing effect? Imagine the navy seal recruit asking for the suffering to stop, but then asking if he can still graduate. We might think that is crazy, but we do the same with God.

“Shame needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence and judgement.”

Shame is a funny thing because it is mostly about us condemning ourselves. Really it is us agreeing in our head that we probably deserve the pain that we are experiencing.

Sometimes though the shame can be healthy because it causes us to correct our attitude; but it is not a place to stay and stir in for too long. Once we have come to terms with our own weakness and failure then we can’t continue to feel sorry for ourselves, if we are going to have it used positively in our lives. We have to understand, like Job, that we cannot expect only good things from the hand of God.

Isaiah 66:2 says it well, “but to this one I will look. To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at my word.”

We learn to tremble because we understand what God can bring into our life- real pain and real suffering. And, at times He can do this in amounts that can easily overwhelm our fragile nature.

Yet He does it for a purpose which we must not forget, even when we are in the middle of it.