Sometimes you get bit even when everything is going great.
I was fresh off our mission trip to Peru. It was an amazing experience where we met some great people, did good work, and gained new perspectives on the world. The culture was much different than what I was used to… dirt roads, tarp roofs, packs of dogs running through the streets… But it was a great experience.
Now I was back in the States and had 6 more weeks of Sabbatical stretching before me. On a sunny Monday morning, after a great time of reading and prayer, I thought I would get out for a run. So after driving to a great park, dialing in some worship tunes on my headphones, and checking out the trail map one more time, I started jogging.
After about a mile I saw a woman walking two dogs coming toward me. When she saw me, she immediately started pulling the dogs in close, giving most of her attention to one of them. I didn’t think much of it – I’ve passed dozens of dog-walkers on roads and trails while out for a run.
But as I passed this woman, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. And sure enough, as I turned my head, several steps past her, I saw a dog running at me, about the same time I heard the woman yelling frantically. A split second later the dog was clamping its jaws into the flesh of my right calf!
I know I yelled. I know I kicked. And I know I wasn’t very happy.
It was all over in a flash… The dog was back with its very apologetic owner, but as I looked at my leg, I saw blood (it was a very minor cut, but I like to be dramatic)! The irony was not lost on me - I mean, just days earlier I’d been with wild packs of dogs in Peru and had no problems – but running on a paved path in the suburbs I got attacked!
After a conversation with the dog’s owner and a close inspection of my injuries, I accepted the woman’s apology and moved on. Now, at least, I had a story to tell.
As I finished my run that day, and as I’ve reflected on that experience, I’ve been thinking…
Sometimes life just bites.
The unexpected happens, and it’s not pleasant. Actually, it hurts. Disease attacks; people are mean; the job doesn’t work out; the deal falls through; someone lets me down… With all of the great things life can bring, it can also bite.
Many times, when life bites, people cry out to God and blame Him. “Why did you let this happen to me? I don’t deserve this! It’s not fair.” And maybe it isn’t fair. Maybe you couldn’t have done anything different. And maybe God could have changed things around. We blame Him.
But maybe we could a couple different questions when life bites…
What do I expect? Do you expect a pain-free life? We shouldn’t be surprised when life bites. Hebrews 13:4 says, “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” We aren’t home, in heaven, yet. This world isn’t perfect, so let’s not expect it to be. It’s sinful, and people continue to sin. Sin brings consequences. And so sometimes life bites…
What can I learn? It’s interesting how much we can learn from the problems and pain of life, that we never would learn if we just cruised through with no conflict. It could very well be that God wants to teach you in the pain something you’d never learn otherwise. James chapter 1 says that ‘trials of many kinds’ (maybe even dog bites) produce things like perseverance and maturity, things we’d never get if we never had difficult circumstances.
What do I know? Think about what God says is true, even when life is painful. Know that God is with you, even in the pain. Romans 8:28 tells us that God is using everything in our lives to bring about His good. Later in that same chapter we see that God and His love prevail, even against all sorts of awful things… “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” (Rom. 8:35) In the middle of the pain it might be hard to remember, but we need to constantly remind ourselves that God has promised to be with us, even when life bites.
Just because I got bit by a dog, I haven’t stopped running. I’m a little more aware of my surroundings when there are animals around, but I’m still getting out and hitting the pavement. And just because sometimes life bites, keep living! There are things to learn, problems to overcome, and a God who loves you through it all, working out what’s best…even when life bites.