Decisions. Hard choices. Encountering a crossroad and not sure which way to go. Why is life so difficult at times? What about that little shortcut I see? Maybe I can take that and experience less pain. After all, isn’t that what life is—finding the best way to avoid pain and misery?
Yet what if I’m mistaken? What if life’s pains are where I find the greatest meaning over time? C. S. Lewis, in an essay, “The Vision of John Bunyan,” wrote about this with his usual clarity:
“Most, I fancy, have discovered that to be born is to be exposed to delights and miseries greater than imagination could have anticipated; that the choice of ways at any cross-road may be more important than we think; and that short cuts may lead to very nasty places.”
We want comfort. We hate having to deal with problems, especially those kind that involve other people. Well, one of my “Snyderian Truisms” reads, “Where there are people, there are problems.” Living in a world where we are surrounded with other people means we can’t escape this.
But if we are perpetually blaming others for our problems, we are missing the vital truth: our reaction to what other people do is the key to this life; we are on a path that is not painless, and God will use everything to help shape us into what He wants us to be.
“But God,” we might protest, “can’t you just change them and make it so much easier for me?” Well, He could. He also could simply overrule our wills and make us exactly what we should be. Yet, of what value would that be in His goals for us? As Lewis put it in another of his essays, “The Trouble with ‘X,'”
God has made it a rule for Himself that He won’t alter people’s character by force. He can and will alter them—but only if the people will let Him. . . .
He would rather have a world of free beings, with all its risks, than a world of people who did right like machines because they couldn’t do anything else.
The more we succeed in imagining what a world of perfect automatic beings would be like, the more, I think, we shall see His wisdom.
Life is filled with choices, both large and small. Some are minor, but others will be life-changing, one way or the other. We cannot avoid them; neither does God want us to. Those choices can be character-altering, and if we submit to His will and allow the Helper—His Holy Spirit—to be our guide on the journey, we will be able to look back and be grateful that He has made us in His image, with all the emotions, thoughts, and choices that come with that image.