I owned a silver Honda Civic for 7 years. It was a solid car that was reliable and safe while also providing comfort and versatility. I sadly said, “goodbye” to my Civic last year when I joined the “soccer mom” club by buying a minivan. But I still think about my car and all the memories attached to it.
A few years back, I had to get a lot of work done on my Civic. The tires needed replacing, and the oil was leaking. There were also a few other problems with my car that needed to get fixed. The mechanic quoted the cost for everything to be in the thousands. I had a decision to make.
Lauren (my wife) and I discussed the pain of covering such a large cost for fixes that I thought were optional. It had crossed my mind that we could get by with the car not functioning at a hundred percent. In response, Lauren had the wisdom to ask me a question that I needed to hear. “If we don’t get the car fixed, will it be safe to drive?” That simple question yanked me back into reality. The cost of fixing the car was worth it.
Recently I thought about the spiritual implication of my broken car. We took my Civic to the mechanic and paid a significant amount of money to get the car fixed. What was the purpose of sacrificing so much? What was the purpose of allowing my car to endure such intense work? Well, the reason for the car getting fixed was so that it could fulfill its purpose…getting me and my passengers safely from point A to point B.
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome about the significance of suffering and endurance.
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces
perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Paul puts the concept of suffering into perspective. There is a purpose to our suffering. Part of the peace and hope that we can find in Christ amidst our trials is knowing that he is building character. This grueling and unpleasant process that we go through to become more like Jesus is called sanctification. It is an ongoing process that we go through during our entire lives.
God uses events and people to shape our lives. A lot of times, it’s our relationships that can be challenging. As I like to say, “God is building character using the characters in the building.” Whether that building is work, or school, or home, or even church…it is inevitable that God will use people’s imperfections to shape us to be more like Him.
My CIVIC needed to be fixed, and so do we. The car endured pounding and adjusting, and the installation of new parts, which led to a complete transformation. My car could then fulfill its purpose. This is much like the sanctification process that we go through. It allows us to accomplish the mission that God has for us. Aren’t you thankful that we have the best mechanic possible that can fine-tune and fix our lives?
Life can be so tough, and there will be many times that our expectations are not met. The Head Coach of my favorite NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs once said:
“The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way.”
The way we respond to our suffering reveals our character. So how are we going to act when things don’t go our way? Have you gone through a season of suffering recently? Are you in the midst of it now? Take heart knowing that God is shaping you to be more like Him. Keep persevering. Continue to love others as Jesus loved us…And may the character that comes out of you when things don’t go your way be that of Christ Jesus. I pray that we will all endure the suffering so that Godly character can be shown in our everyday lives.
NOTE: Speaking of endurance, thank you so much for all your encouragement and support over the last five years. God has used all of you to help me and Lauren continue to persevere at Kino’ole Baptist Church. Much mahalo for the lei and gift card! Lauren and I are truly grateful.