by Rachel Wolfe, Crown Point, Indiana

“God’s been good…in my life.  I feel blessed beyond my wildest dreams when I go to sleep each night.  And though I’ve had my share of hard times…”

What’s the next phrase in this song? “…I wouldn’t change them if I could.”

As I was listening to this song— one of my favorites—on the radio, I noticed that the last phrase had been changed to something else. I was sad as I thought about this. This song talks about how God has been good in a life—even through the hard times. I have to say that this phrase is both my favorite and my least favorite part of the song. Selfishly speaking, I would want to change some of those hard times in my life, yet I thank God for those times in my life and wouldn’t dare to change them. They have fashioned me into what I am today. They are the stitching that holds this girl’s garment together, making it beautiful. And yet, no one really sees the stitching—an intricate, yet simple and much needed detail. Without stitching, the garment does not exist.

I tend to believe there are two kinds of these “hard times.” There are hard times that I have brought on myself through ignorance or rebellion to God. I have those times, and I regret them. Do I wish I would have learned those specific lessons differently? Of course I do, but I didn’t. I have learned much from these hard times, and I take responsibility for them. I am much humbled by them and have become a better person from them.

When I was younger, I had a relationship with a guy whom my parents didn’t know much about. After I sneaked out of the house to meet him, I realized this guy really wasn’t worth the trouble he was causing in my life. I wanted to have a good relationship with my parents, and I realized he wasn’t helping build that relationship. I let him go and learned much.

Then there are the hard times that I believe God allows. People tend to believe that love does not include pain. But we have to know that pain is not the enemy of love and, when present, only helps us see the better, the positive, and the greater. So God, in love, allows hard times to come and redirect our sight.

I tend to think that God looks down and says, “Rachel, I am going to let something happen in your life. You will hurt badly. You will cry and cry and cry. Your pain will keep you from sleeping at times. You may even question me. You will not understand why. But please trust Me and feel loved by Me. This is a love language you might not understand now, but if you continue to accept, you will learn it. And you will learn ME! I am here for you—even though it seems I have left you.I love you so much.”

Those hard times are unquestionably mine, including the time my doctor tried to find the heartbeat to the little one in my belly. As the truth hit and the tears came, my doctor just looked at me and, having no words, bowed his head and prayed. I got in my car to head to the hospital. I tried reaching my husband, but he was in a meeting. I felt alone. I couldn’t see for the tears blurring my vision. I pulled over and tried to talk to God. But I had nothing to say. I had no words. So I just listened. I just sat and listened to God. I didn’t like what He was saying, but somehow I felt loved.

We can fight the hard times, we can mourn them, we can pretend they never happen, OR we can claim them as our own, painfully accepting the unwanted. Then we can quietly go on with our lives, using these trials wherever and whenever we can. And if we never help others because of them, then we should still simply embrace them as our very own connection to Christ. We can feel bonded to Him the way others aren’t, feel loved by Christ like no one else.

“…I wouldn’t change them if I could!”

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:7)