I watched the Iron Man Triathlon once on television. The participants swim 2.4 miles (3.86kn), bike for 112 miles (180km), and then run for 26 miles (42km). I was amazed at their stamina and strength. I wondered if I could ever meet a physical and emotional challenge of that magnitude and succeed.
A few years ago my husband and I drove 2,200 miles (3540km) in 5 days with four children ranging from 2 to 12. Among the joys of being with family were certain experiences that tested my patience and my sanity- but I survived! The experience leaves me confident that not only could I handle an Iron Man Triathlon, but I would dominate.
On day four, somewhere in between Wyoming and Idaho, we were stuck behind a semi-truck. It didn't look any different from all the other 18-wheelers we had seen on the road except for a small sticker on the back which read, "Long Load." As we pulled up along side the truck, we realized that it was not the typical 18-wheeler truck, which was a cab that pulled a large trailer, but it was a cab pulling two extra-long trailers. "Long Load" was no exaggeration! From the perspective we had behind the truck, we would have never known it was going to be longer than normal if it weren't for the sticker telling us so.
I thought of life and the "Loads" that often lay before us. Most times we have no idea how long the loads, or trials, will be. Wouldn't it be nice if our trials came with a sticker warning us, "Long Load"? If we could have gotten some hint or warning that the fun weekend getaway would turn out to be 5 days of "I want you!” and "I want my juice" and "He hit me!" *Sigh*
Unfortunately, most trials we go through don't come with a "Long Load" sticker to warn us. For the most part, we don't have the luxury of knowing how long adversity will last in our lives. But, what we do know is why we have loads to bear, trials and adversity.
The trucks that we passed on the freeway were all going towards their own destinations. Their loads, long or small, were items of worth, great and small. The only way to get their precious cargo from where it was to its destination is to bear the load. Paul taught that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." The only way to get to our destination, to live with God, is by carrying our loads, our trials and tribulations.
It is only through these trials, regardless of size and length that we have the opportunity to become like Him. Patience isn't patience until it is tried, faith isn't faith until is it exercised; humility isn't humility until we learn to rely on God. These loads, short and long, give us opportunities to become our best selves, to become like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
So, although it would be nice to have the fore-warning of the length of my trials in the future like the "Long Load" sticker on the back of the truck, I am at peace just knowing that the trials, regardless of length, are for a purpose, my purpose - God's purpose. The loads I am called to bear in this life are for me. And with His help, I can bear them, carry them, live through them, and eventually overcome.
But………I still might put in a heavenly request for the "Long Load" stickers for future trials. It couldn’t hurt to ask, right?