“Made in Hell”

Many of you don’t even attend IWU, and therefore the only link you have to our thrice-a-week chapels is what you read or hear about it from those of us who do attend. And on top of that, those of us who are students are split between two different chapels, meaning that while worship and the message are brought by the same people and sought to be as identical as possible, there are always differences between what students hear and experience in chapels for any given day. Of course, being that I have been working tech staff for every chapel since last September (I missed one day because of Chorale, but 178 out of 180 isn’t bad), I have the opporunity to see and hear everything that goes on in Chapel.

If I can sum up Dr. Lennox’s message, it would be something to the effect of ‘trials are bad, but don’t worry… someday we’ll be in Heaven and they’ll all be gone.’ Now, I want to give him as much credit as possible, because he is far wiser and more educated than I; I am sure the goal of his message was to start the semester off with something that would spread hope among us students, who either are feeling or know we soon will feel the pressures of college life. But in the first chapel, he made one specific statement which stuck in my mind. He stated that all of the trials that we are going through are, of course, of evil origin (be it Satan, or the curse) and are, and I quote: “stamped with a sticker that says ‘Made in Hell.'”

If you ask your brethren in Christ, almost all of them would say they believe we go through trials in order to build our faith and our character. It’s very Biblical (James 1) that God allows trials to befall us in order that we may become more complete in Him. And I can’t disagree with the statement that some trials are evil in origin, and we see this in Job 1. But look at verse six, “angles came to present themselves to the LORD, and Satan also came with them.” God proceeds to ask Satan for an account for what he has been doing, and then throws out Job’s name. God actually began the process of Job’s trials. And yes, it was Satan that went about destroying Job’s life as he knew it, but the initiation of the process was God’s. It’s scripture.

One of the things I’ve been challenged with recently is this idea that trials and tribulations are not to make our lives difficult, but rather are God’s ways of stretching us and growing us into the person he wants us to be. Yes, the Word does say he gives us a way out of these times, but the challenge to me is that God’s will for me is not to seek the way out, but rather to persevere and grow through the hard times, for perseverence leads to character, and character leads to hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

Do I want to have hard times? Not really. But then again, in a way our struggles through the hard times is what defines us as a person, what defines us as a culture, and what defines us as humanity. Think about it–I can say I’m an expert in chemistry, but until my expertise is tested, there is no proof I really am. Testing of some sort is the basic structure of our entire academic process. In the same way, a friendship is not really proven until it has endured strains and hardships. And even love cannot be taken for granted. A person’s love must stand the trials it is subjected to, and only then will it truly be valid in the eyes of the loved.

I am sorry if this was just me spitting words onto my website. Lately I’ve been trying hard to read and reread my writings, trying to eliminate spelling and grammar errors, and checking to make sure I have made my point in a clear fashion. But this is pure, unedited rough draft. Just my thoughts, on paper. Sort of.