Or warm sandy beaches, or ski hills? I clasp my hands together and pray with conviction, “I promise I’d listen if You did! When I’m happy, I’m really flexible and agreeable to change!” However, I know it’s a lost cause. Warm sandy beaches, ski hills and ice cream are blessings and gifts from our loving God, however at times, our master’s tools need to be sharper and more abrasive to bring about any lasting change.

 Failure, brokenness, and pain are just a few of God’s tools.

Failure can be a catalyst that shoves us in the new direction that perhaps we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. For example; my 25-year-old son realized if he hadn’t had such a tough time with sciences, he wouldn’t have gone into accounting where he now thrives. Or if I hadn’t been laid off from a job, I wouldn’t have found another that used my talents more effectively.

When I trained my horse I referred to it as ‘breaking’ him. My ‘broken’ horse did not enjoy the whole process to be sure (he would far rather have stayed in his pasture, thank you very much). However, his will had to be broken so his potential could be brought out and used by me, his owner (thank you very much). He was healthier with the exercise and he became much more than what he would have, just eating and sleeping.

Pain, both emotional and physical can bring us to our knees where we realize we can’t do it on our own. Without a constant thorn in Paul’s side, he wouldn’t have realized that God could sustain him. 2 Corinthians 12:9 My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. An example of emotional pain is my friend who struggled through a very tough divorce. Before that, she was efficient, confident and apparently happy. However, she never knew God until her sorrow brought her to her lowest low. Only then was she open to God’s help.

As much as I do love cinnamon buns, trips to Europe and golfing, I’m constantly reminded through pain of some kind that these are things to be enjoyed, not worshipped. We are not of this world, and the quicker we remember that the better. Pierre Teihard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I am also reminded of a saying in The Beatitude of Sorrow (1896 by J.R. Millar). Blessed is the night, for it reveals the stars!

Happily, God hasn’t just used pain and suffering to shape me. The miracles of gazing into both my newborn sons’ eyes were about as humbling as they come. And the ‘coincidences’ that regularly happen in my life are reminders that I’m not alone.

So, what kind of tools have been used to shape you?