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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The School of Hard Knocks

How does God refine and test your character? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1328).

The question is “What makes for a good nurturing environment for the development of character?” I think it is clear that life involves several stages. In early maturation a greenhouse atmosphere can be beneficial for growth. However at some point the developing organism needs to confront the antagonistic forces in the world. It is no doubt true that even in a nursery setting in stable and loving homes children playing together in a rough and tumble fashion can encounter issues no different in kind from those faced by statesmen on an international stage. At some point I think we all can agree that nursery and greenhouse idealities must be left behind if development is to be sufficient for successful coping within a sometimes hostile environment in an imperfect world. In this sense we can see that antagonistic forces can be a beneficial blessing in the development of character. There is a saying: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” There is no doubt a lot of truth in this. To hone our skills conflict is necessary. I think of King David who long before he killed Goliath killed lions as a youngster guarding his father’s flocks. That is, long before we see him as an accomplished combatant on the national scene; he was garnering experience and skillful mastery in the private, unseen arena that in small, hidden ways was preparing him for the future. We should be wary therefore of prayers for personal placidity and tranquility in a world where there is no peace.

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