“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sandpaper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.”
— Chris Colfer
Whether it’s surviving a bully or dealing with the coarseness of a particular family relationship or situation, hope plays a vital part in not simply surviving the hurts of life, but thriving through them. Yes, through our hurts we can grow.
The metaphor of sandpaper is useful in this context.
We must be cautioned at this point, however. What the following is pointed toward is the normal hurts of life; not aberrant abuse and neglect. Hurt people hurt people all the time, and this is our context. Let’s leave abject violence to one side.
Those Who Hurt Us Are a Tool God Uses to Refine Us
Whenever I’ve used sandpaper in the past it’s been about shaping or refining a piece of timber. It brings it to size and the right finish. Then the surface is ready for paint.
Much the same way, God has a use for the people in our lives who make us cringe.
Whilst they take their shots at us, rubbing away at our sharp edges of character fault by their vociferous demeanour, we are being polished—when we submit to God humbly by not reacting aggressively (or submissively) in return. When we’re brave enough to contain our fight or flight reactions, God takes us to a higher plane of spiritual finish—like a glossier timber, ready for a beautiful lacquer.
In the motion of humbly enduring the hurts of others, absorbing them with God’s help—by knowing God’s help and empathy by his Presence—we are polished in spiritual confidence, whilst the people who are hurting us are worn down (over the days, months and years) as sandpaper is worn down. We marvel at God’s faithfulness in this way, all the more, as we look back over years and decades.
Sooner or later, the sandpaper is good only for disposal. It’s done its job. The timber is ready. We are the timber and the lacquer God wishes to coat us with is Christ in eternity.
The Purpose of this Hope
This hope is important. We must, in our dealing with the horribleness of life, have a sense of hope that these parts are worth the misery contained within them. That’s the purpose of hope—to give us reason to continue so we don’t give up.
When we view the troublemakers of life as sandpaper—that they are purposed to make us more patient and grace-filled, etc—we see, and therefore believe, that God is good to his Word. That is, God makes “all things work together for good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28)
It’s not just a plastic cliché. This verse encapsulates a hope-provident truth.
When we believe God can create something good out of the worst of our hurts we don’t give up and we continually look for what God might be doing. Our belief reeks with hope.
God has a divine purpose for the hurts we endure in life. When we believe this we prosper, every time. This is a hope that doesn’t disappoint. God’s transforming our hurts into the healing of character growth right now, if we let him.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.