This really moved me to pray for and remember those who are sick and hurting during the Holiday Season.
The following is a note from a formerly famous quarterback. He won all the awards and played in the NFL. When it was over he went work for a ministry in New Orleans (Desire Street Ministries) that had to move to another city because of the hurricane.
“Life is tough.”
I remember hearing those words often growing up, especially from my father when things weren’t going my way. I hated those words as a kid…and I still do.
Something inside me resists any suggestion that life shouldn’t be comfortable. While my mind might accept the reality that life can be tough, my emotional reaction in the midst of difficulties better resembles a toddler’s temper tantrum than a mature adult (Strange how our professed beliefs and our functional beliefs often don’t line up. We say we believe something, but we sure don’t act like it).
I’ve been battling with GBS for over six months now, and the difficulties in my life related to the illness continue to make life much harder than I want.
Overall, I’m doing better and I’m thankful for the progress (most people tell me I don’t look sick anymore, and some days I can be pretty active). But I regularly feel like I don’t have the ability to accomplish even a few simple things each day. For various reasons, I haven’t been able to do many of the activities that bring me joy. What’s worse, if I try to “push” through a day, I’ll end up in worse shape.
I “pushed” through a family trip to Virginia for Thanksgiving. We had a nice visit with my wife’s mother and her family, but the trip took its toll. I spent the following Monday in bed all day with a bad headache.
Life is tough.
Being sick is tough. Raising kids is wonderful but tough. Marriage is beautiful but also tough. Ministry is often tough. And that’s before you throw in hurricanes and GBS. Perhaps those words from my father revealed more truth than I realized.
In Richard Rohr’s book Adam’s Return—a book surveying initiation passages used by many cultures and religions throughout history—he argues that boys usually don’t learn things by being taught; they need to experience things to really “get it.” And he says that one of the first tasks in most initiation rites is to force the boys to experience the “toughness” of life, often through difficult, painful and sometimes bloody ordeals.
If a boy is forced to accept the fact that life will be tough, then at least he doesn’t have to spend the rest of life getting bent out of shape and surprised every time he encounters the difficulties of life in a broken world.
It’s tough enough to deal with the hardships in life. But to have a false expectation that life will be easy—that we somehow deserve things to be easy—that can turn a tough moment into an unbearable one.
But every time I turn on the television or see a magazine cover, I’m barraged with messages to the contrary. You should be happy, and you deserve it. We live in America, for heaven’s sake. Unfortunately, I hear many similar messages from Christian pastors and authors. Much of American Christianity mirrors our culture’s obsession with the “good life.”
Life has a lot of seasons, and some of them are filled with joy, gladness and celebration. There are many times to laugh and smile.
As Christians, though, we shouldn’t get swept away by the illusion that life has only one season, and it’s always delightful. We should, more than others, be people with the depth, courage and trust to embrace the hard and heavy things of life.
God resides not only in the joy and new life associated with the season of Spring, like a reward if we somehow survive Winter. We can find him in every season…if we’re willing to look long and hard enough.
I just happen to be in a tough one right now. It’s Winter for this Wuerffel. I’m like the Indianapolis Colts (not far removed from the joys of a Superbowl…but 0-12 this year :).
I trust a new season is on the way. God will bring me Spring when He is ready. He just wants to meet me in the Winter right now.
I remember my father’s words, “Life is tough, Danny.”
He was right.
God bless you,
Danny Wuerffel, 37, played quarterback at Florida from 1993 through ’96 and is one of three Gators to win a Heisman Trophy.