With the release of our new book this month, I've been asked many times why I wrote the book.
There are many reasons why. To begin with, just look at what is going on in our society today in America. We must address the obvious hardship, suffering, loss, and injustice in our world. And help the younger generation to level what is going on in their lives. So, here are a few reasons why I wrote the book.
1. Because God prompted me to do this - Just two weeks before Jane was diagnosed with cancer, God prompted me to read the Book of Job in the Old Testament. Contrary to popular opinion, the story of Job is really a beautiful narrative of gain, loss, and gain. Out of this reading came the idea of writing a book about what Job would say to millennials today about hardship, suffering, and pain. Because he lived it and won. When God gave back to Job double what was taken.
The lesson here: Remember, there is both good and bad in every story. While reading the story of Job, did you miss the recovery? Have you always gotten stuck on the problem and missed the answer? There is always grace in every story. When God is writing the verse and the lines, you have to read the story all the way to the end.
2. For all of the young people who have told me, ‘it isn’t fair’ - We all have to understand that life isn't 'fair'. I really wanted to model to young people that stuff happens; so how can we level all of the bad things that happen to us? In the book, I address many stories of teens across the country who had their own stories of hardship. By introducing these stories to the reader, I wanted to give more inspiration and resource on how to navigate hardship, suffering, and pain. Not how to avoid it.
The lesson here: Remember this very important point - that life isn't fair. In fact, you don't want fair (or what you deserve). That you are not the only person who is going through hardship. And because others have gone through it successfully, then you can. As the Chinese proverb says, 'Don't be the person that complains about suffering as though it only belongs to them.'
3. To prove that hardship, suffering, and loss are not always your enemy - We are okay with hardship in athletics, farming, and soldiers. Why would we not allow it in our lives? In so many settings of culture it is normal. Athletes embrace the idea of 'No pain-No gain' in the weight room. Farmers live in the reality that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will not bear fruit. And soldiers understand that if they do not go through the rigors of 'basic training', it might cost them their life in service.
The lesson here: Hardship can be a great trainer and shaper of character and integrity. Hardship is not always an enemy to fight against. Instead, we should embrace the resistance or the difficulty and learn to use it for a purpose. If we do not use hardship for a purpose then we may have to go through it again!
4. So that you will grow up to become a king or a queen and slay dragons of your own - There are some things that can only take place through the process of difficulty. Professional sporting Championships, becoming a Fortune 500 Company, or having a great test on a final exam. Maturity is the result of discipline. Spiritual formation is a result of discipline. And watching people grow into stature is a beautiful thing.
The lesson here: Princes and Princesses are born into royalty. But they are made into authority. And that process takes place through a lot of adversity. As Youth Leaders, it is not our responsibility to raise Princes and Princesses, it is our responsibility to raise Kings and Queens.
A Magnum Opus
It is important that one generation takes the responsibility to raise the next generation. That has always been my passion. Why? Because the PRINCIPLES of one generation become the PRACTICES of the next. So we must look adversity in the face and level the playing field.
I speak with young people every day and hear so many stories of tragedy and loss, of chaos and drama. One thing I have always tried to get teenagers to see is that God always has a purpose in everything under the sun as it relates to us. He can turn our mess into His message and He can take our chaos and throw it on His canvass and create a masterpiece.
The Magnus Opus is just that. An artist's greatest work. Since hardship and trial are part of Christianity and scripture, why are we so upset about hardship and trial in Christians and culture? Do we not think that God can create a message out of our mess? Maybe you have lost a friend, family member, you are sick, or maybe you have lost your integrity. Whatever it is, don’t forget that as long as the story is still being written, there will be a gain in the end. A Magnus Opus is the perfect work of an artist. The pinnacle. And God always works in addition and not subtraction.