SALT written on a heap of salt - antihypertensive campaign health hazard

Salt.

It’s kind of like déjà vu from hell.

 

Just when you think you’ve moved on and begun to heal, something blindsides you, ripping the wound wide open again.

 

I don’t know what that wound is for you.

 

Maybe you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one. On holidays, birthdays, and even on normal days when that song comes on the radio you’re overwhelmed by how much your heart feels like its bleeding inside. Again.

 

Or maybe it’s singleness or childlessness. Just when you think you’re doing OK, another friend’s engagement picture shows up in your Instagram feed or yet another baby shower invitation lands in your mailbox and something inside you stings deeply like rubbing salt in a wound. Again.

 

For me that wound was death.

 

When I was 14 a gorgeous, athletic, spunky friend passed away unexpectedly over the summer. She was not my best friend or even in my inner circle of friends, but the dense feeling of sorrow and confusion I felt deep in my gut and the pink ties the boys wore to her funeral are seared into my memory forever.

 

I could not understand why a good God would allow her to die.

 

Even as a confused high schooler I had a strong faith and growing relationship with God. The only thing I knew to do was run to Him for comfort and understanding.

 

But it seemed that just as I had grieved and processed the first tragedy, another classmate was killed in a car accident and 6 months later another and another. Until a total of 10 of my high school classmates were gone. Suicides. Accidents. Overdoses.

 

And I was back again, staring at the sky, whispering dejectedly to a Being I desperately wanted to trust, “What kind of God would allow this to happen?”

 

Each time I would grieve and run to Him, wounded, frustrated, and with a tangled web of questions I didn’t consciously know I needed to answer. And eventually, through the help of wise people, the truth in Scripture, and quite honestly, an undeniable presence of God in my life, the wounds would slowly begin to heal.

 

But the pattern continued even after high school and this time the losses were relationships even closer me.

 

A heart attack. A failed lung transplant. A plane crash. A skiing accident. The wound would rip open and I’d be running back to God simultaneously demanding answers through angry tears and begging for comfort from a Father I still hoped was loving.

 

It was déjà vu from hell and it felt like the cycle would never end.

 

The other day at Crossfit, we did a workout that my gym has been affectionately named “Salt”. It’s a grueling WOD (work out of the day) that involves a 5,000M run, 155 kettle bell swings, and 155 ring dips—split up into 10 long rounds.

 

By round 3 of the workout I was ready to quit. The end was literally miles away, and I was already exhausted from repeating the same cycle—500m run… kettle bell swings…dips. (Repeat.)

 

Repeat.

 

Repeat again.

 

As I ran (Ok, slowly jogged), I started to think about how building physical endurance is similar to persevering through hardship in life.

 

It is a long and grueling process. And sometimes, it is a cycle that repeats.

 

Hardship. Heartbreak. Healing. Growth. (Repeat.)

 

Repeat.

 

Repeat again.

 

For eight consecutive years, I attended the funeral of a close friend or family member—at least one every six months. It was an exhausting, painful cycle and a continual reevaluation of whether Romans 8:28 is beautiful truth or…well, total B.S..

 

I would love to tell you the full story someday, but all I have room to tell you today is this:

 

With every trial, God gave me the strength to persevere. And I am grateful.

 

I think I experienced what Paul talks about in Romans 5:3-5—a reason to “rejoice in my sufferings.” My sufferings have caused the development of perseverance, and then character, and eventually hope. All because, “God’s love has been poured into [my] heart.”

 

Looking back, I picture Jesus like a compassionate doctor tending to my wounds all those years. I picture Him wiping away my tears, and gently cleaning my open sores. As He carefully disinfected, I would cuss and yell angrily at Him. Like using alcohol to clean a cut, tending to an emotional scar stings.

 

Despite the pain, His love for me was always profoundly palpable. And eventually, I would allow myself to rest in His arms, simultaneously certain of His presence and of the fact that I’ll never fully understand Him. His great love that is deeper and wider than I’ll ever comprehend.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

 

And every time I felt a little bit stronger.

 

When I finally completed Salt at Crossfit the other day, no one handed me a medal. All I got was a high-five from the coach and my own sweat-soaked, salty t-shirt. The real reward was what happened inside me—even though I was exhausted, I somehow felt stronger.

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that Christ followers “are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13)

 

Salt is a preservative for a decaying culture. It adds flavor to a life that is otherwise dull and meaningless.

 

Suffering produces salt.

 

When we suffer well, it produces fortitude and strength. It allows us to be a little bit stronger, a little more courageous next time. When we actually savor the flavor of sanctification—rather than spitting it out when it’s uncomfortable—I think we become a little more salty. A little more like Jesus—loving, compassionate, strong.

 

I don’t know the exact wounds in your life, friend.

 

But I know your Creator loves you enough to tend to them, even if the process is painful and repetitive.

 

And just like my sweat-soaked t-shirt after a 10 round workout, your suffering is producing salt. I urge you to continue to run hard after Him, even when you don’t understand what He is doing. Persevere, dear friend. And allow others to run with you and to cheer you on when you desperately want to quit after round 3.

 

For we serve a God of victory.

 

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Photo Credit: Sarah Goldsmith

1 Comment

  1. This is sobering, but so so true. Thank you for this beautiful post!

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