Yoda once said, “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; and hate leads to suffering.”
Let’s stop and think about that for a moment. When you’re afraid—truly afraid, not the righteous fear and respect we are to show God—you’re living in a state where you constantly expect bad things to happen.
Fear is like a cancer. It wells up inside you until it eats you alive from the inside out. Once it’s consumed you, you’re gone. Not everyone does this, but eventually, you’re living in so much fear that you become angry. Angry at the fear, angry at anyone around you who caused that fear, angry at your circumstances. Now, instead of living in a constant state of fear, you’re waist-deep in your own anger. If fear is a cancer, then anger is like a thunderstorm. You can hear it and see it from far away—sometimes—and then other times it slams into you all at once before you know what hit you. It brings destruction into your life—tornadoes of lashing out, hailstorms of violence—that don’t ever seem to end. Eventually the storm flees, but what you’re left with… is hate. Now look at you, look at the kind of life you’re living. You look at someone and you’re filled with this all consuming blackness, a darkness inside that you can’t explain.
Fear is like cancer; anger is like a storm. Hatred… is a car accident. Sometimes you aren’t sure what choices led you to this decision. Maybe its your own fault; maybe its someone else’s because of the circumstances around you. Either way, hatred takes hold of you, grips you so tightly… your soul spins end over end until suddenly it stops and now.. now you’re injured and broken beyond repair. Your life is destroyed just like your car and your injuries are so severe you’re left with suffering.
Isn’t there a better way to live life than that?
Yes. The Bible says in Romans 5:3-5: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character hope.”
Tribulation. When any of us hear that word we cringe. The trials of life are most generally what leads us to living in a state of fear. Something horrible happens—a tragic loss, a parent leaves you, constant fighting, bad finances, a terrible divorce, starvation, sickness, disease, abuse… The list goes on and on.
Trials are like fire. Dangerous, scary. They’re full of heat and if you get too close, it will hurt you. But fire also transforms. In ancient times, Native Americans used fire to burn the prairies. At first, all that was left was scorched, blackened earth, but the next year, the grass would be more lush, more green, attracting more wildlife. It’s always been used in forging weapons, specifically swords. Metal is heated and melted, then cooled. Once cooled, it’s beaten, pounded on time and time again. The fire that breaks and melts it is what makes it stronger—what makes you stronger. How you react to tribulations determines what you will be when you come out of it. Will you be a refined new object, or a melted piece that has to be reused for something else? If you rely on God—praying, seeking Him, reading His Word—even if He doesn’t immediately answer you, when the trial is over, you now know that you can do it. In the future when more trials come you’ll look back and say, “I made it through that. God helped me with that, so He will help me with this.” It becomes a natural mantra that repeats in your mind whenever trouble comes. It becomes perseverance. This mantra continues, developing an entire belief system inside your mind. From there it spreads, until it etches onto your very soul. It’s within you, strengthening and powering you, helping you to endure all that life brings upon you. It becomes the very thing you cling on to help you climb over that next mountain. Tribulation is like fire; then perseverance is rope. You tie it around yourself and use it to hold you up when you climb. You climb it, limb over limb, trying to reach the top of that next cliff. It becomes your lifeline, the only handhold you have to get you up and over. And once you reach the top and you’re looking out over that glorious horizon, you realize you did it. You’re standing there, realizing for the first time who you are…. Character. You see the beauty of the world around you, understanding for the first time who you are in Christ. You see the sunrise or the sunset or the clouds around you and you breathe in God’s presence.
Tribulation is fire; perseverance is rope; character is the blue sky. It is all around you—giving you meaning and beauty. You finally see the light, the hope that pulses in one tiny spot of the sky. This hope fills you, it warms you like the sun. It gives you glimpses of heaven, of our eternal home above.
Fear, anger, hate, suffering—from cancer to thunderstorm to a car accident and finally to wounds.
Tribulation, perseverance, character, hope—from fire to rope to the sky, to the sun.
Which one do you think is better?