I knew what I was asking of Janessa was within her reach. I also knew the process would require her to struggle. She wasn't interested in a struggle; she desired ease. At that point, she would have much preferred to mindlessly fill in a page of simple multiplication and addition problems. When I said I wanted her to struggle, she thought I had cursed her, and began to cry.
Fast forward to this afternoon. A local store is offering a savings of 50% on all of their games this week. The girls and I browsed the store, hoping for nothing more than a new deck of Dutch Blitz cards. With the cards in hand, I continued to look. I spotted Settlers of Catan, a game my friend recommended years ago. I hadn't purchased it for two reasons: it's expensive, and it looks daunting. The sale removed the first reason. But the second reason remained. This appeared to be a game which would require a lot of study prior to playing. Frankly, I wasn't interested in the struggle; I wanted ease. I showed it to the girls, though, and they were up for the challenge. Within an hour of opening it, we became the game's newest fans.
How do binary numbers and Settlers of Catan relate? In our little world, they both represented struggle. Both required effort. Both wrinkled our brains. At first. Once we pressed through, however, we experienced gain. Janessa's gain was unlocking the secret binary code and accomplishing something she thought impossible. Our group gain was learning a game we anticipate giving us many hours of fun family time.
It didn't take more than a moment of reflection to discover spiritual application as well. How I prefer ease in my life! I want a happy (tidy) family, a healthy savings account, a husband who leads flawlessly, friends who adore me...you get the idea. It is when I have all these things, however, that I see very little growth in my relationship with the Lord. When trials come, even small ones like a child crying over her math, I am tested, refined, disciplined, humbled--all for God's good purpose of producing righteousness and steadfastness, a genuine faith and maturity in me. When life is easy, I forget my Lord and unwittingly place myself on His throne. Trials knock me down and impel me to seek my Savior.
In dependence upon my mighty Savior is where I want to be. It's where I need to be. Therefore, I welcome the struggle, knowing gain will be right around the corner.
See Hebrews 12:11; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7.