I looked up at the steeple atop the courthouse on the square and it reached tall into the partly cloudy sky.  In my imagination, it seemed to go endless up into the heavens.  I wondered if God reaches out and touches it on occasion. We are so blessed in this populace where we live. It’s true we may have our share of issues, but we live in a strong and faithful community. I love our comfort zone, which is protected, and away from the rat race others seem to deal with.

There is an old African proverb that says, “Smooth seas do not make a skillful sailor.”  The lesson therein, is saying it takes tough times to make tough people.  Basically, we don’t go through life or figure it out on easy street. What is the saying, “Tough times don’t last but tough people do.”

The things we deal with, the struggles and heartaches we face, the circumstances we don’t understand, and the trials by fire that devastate us, are the very things that help us persevere. Someday, we will look back and be stronger for it all, as a person, as a community and a nation.

Through hard times, with endless courage and an energy and focus beyond ourselves, we move on and up to better things.  God never promised any of this would be easy.  He never said the journey would be a piece of cake.  He never promised the cross would not get heavy, and he never said the path would not be an uphill climb.

God does promise it will be worth it.  Sometimes, it isn’t what we are going through, but how we think and the attitude we have.  I recently did a refresher study on the book of Job in the Bible.  I’m amazed each and every time I read about Job’s situation and circumstances and how he never once faltered or failed to trust God’s hand in all that happened.

It’s hard to smile when your heart hurts and your mind aches with the pain of your situation.  Sometimes, our sorrow is more than we can deal with and trying to understand, clouds our vision of what God is trying to show us.  Sometimes, we are totally paralyzed and crippled inside and trying to work our way through it all seems impossible.

So what is the answer?  How do we keep on keeping on?  Take a deep seat, a short rein and hang on tight as the cowboy says.  God has your back even when you can’t find him in the mess.  Scripture teaches he will never leave or forsake us.  In the darkest night and in the deepest pain a small tiny light shines with a minuscule glimmer of hope that promises, “This, too, will pass!”

I’m not sure people these days have a concept of tough times.  Generally speaking, we’ve had it pretty good for a long, long time.  We are an instant gratification society these days, and we don’t wait well and we bore easily.

You cannot be all that God needs you to be without the challenge.  The sailor becomes a good sailor riding through the storm.  The cowboy becomes a good cowboy by getting thrown from the horse any number of times.  The football player becomes a better player after being knocked down a few times and losing the ball at times.  The general becomes a better leader by going through the battles and fighting the war.

Our trials will change us.  Our tribulations and struggles will make us different people.  It’s our attitude and how we handle and relate to what we are going through that matters to God.  He’s focused on our hearts and how we handle the plan over which we have no control.  God’s the captain of this ship and he needs strong warriors and skillful sailors.  We can’t fly if we don’t step off the limb.  We may feel safe and secure here in our little community, but we all will face trials and tribulations along the way no matter where we live or what we do.  Remember, God never promised it would be easy.

Melinda Clements is an E-T community columnist. She can be reached at melinda_clements@centurylink.net.