When arrows fly…
Cainspirations by Kristi Cain, originally published April 26, 2023
How are you overcoming the struggle against outrageous fortune? Let’s journey together!
We all want something to believe in.
And when skies are fair, it’s easy to look up at the light warming our faces and feel secure.
But when storm clouds rumble and harsh winds sting, it’s amazing how shaken we can feel.
When the destination we searched for our entire lives fails to appear after following the guide who should have led us there.
When authorities bring criminal charges against the friend we trusted the most.
When a messenger tells us our children have perished.
Because even the most faithful believers will face seasons when our defenses fail us.
Times we feel misled.
Times we feel attacked.
Times we feel punished by a valley of suffering we didn’t do anything to deserve.
Growing up in an affluent, educated area of North Carolina between Duke and UNC known as the “Research Triangle Park,” I was acutely aware of the image of success my neighbors enjoyed, and why I never quite got the chance to walk through that door.
In a town where everyone’s parents were doctors and lawyers, mine were teachers. I was never the prettiest or most popular. I never had any of the latest trends and my nicest clothes were hand-me-downs from my cousins. In a world of the fortune-favored elite, I evoked more pity than admiration.
But I believed if I worked hard and got into the right colleges, all the doors that had once been closed would magically open.
And by the end of my sophomore year at Vanderbilt, I was dating a third-year law student. If the doctor-lawyer lifestyle had been the only destination I was truly interested in, I would have tried a lot harder to lock down that opportunity. But neither of us were particularly serious about the relationship, and my feelings for him never ran very deep. So, I broke things off and he went off to the big New York law firm awaiting him.
The first semester of my junior year, I met a first-generation college student from the heart of Appalachia. He had already served six years in the Navy before he even thought about pursuing a higher education. I fell in love so deeply that I married him as soon as I graduated.
Compared to the “Rich-kidville” of my childhood, the two-stoplight town we decided to build a life in together didn’t have very many doors to offer us. Compared to the Research Triangle Park, it simply didn’t have many doors at all.
It wasn’t long before I learned what it was like to regularly face struggles and hardships I had never encountered before. And the rewards were few and far between. I had stuck to the script of hard work, integrity, and a good education. But it hadn’t taken me to the kind of place I ever expected to be.
A few thousand years ago, a faithful young Jewish man who grew up in the shadow of pagan oppressors stuck to a script of his own, as well. And he had pursued a much better education than I ever thought about as he learned at the feet of the world’s greatest teacher. But after he gave up everything to follow that teacher, Jesus hadn’t taken him to the kind of place he expected to be.
Political and religious liberation. The restoration of the House of David to its rightful seat of worldly authority. The indisputable reign of heaven on earth.
Instead, Judas had ended up in a place of greater struggle and hardship than he had ever known. And he was left wondering if he had been misled.
But ending up in the wrong kind of landscape isn’t the only arrow that can fly at us. What if it gets worse? What if everything you ever believed––even truth and justice itself––gets subverted? Then what do you do?
Small town life isn’t just hard because of the abundance of want. It is hard because of the abundance of politics and controversies that seep into almost every aspect of life.
Rumors and gossip can all too easily rule the day. It is easy to be villainized for any failing, real or imagined. It is easy to be villainized for any success, real or imagined. And it is much easier than I thought to be villainized for situations that leave you victimized.
It is the kind of attention no one had ever paid me before, and the kind I would certainly never seek. All too easily, the little girl who was never fully accepted in elite circles felt the sting of a new kind of rejection. And it was all too easy to believe it was due to some innate unworthiness. All too easy to feel disempowered and vulnerable. All too easy to give into fear and mistrust of others.
Over two thousand years ago, another faithful Jewish man watched his hero made out to be a villain while the true villains used lies and slander to destroy him.
When he tried to defend his friend physically, Jesus admonished him to put away his sword. Unsure what to do next, he followed helplessly as he watched the merciless attacks unfold.
Then, the glare of the gotcha-spotlight turned onto him. A low-level employee pointed the accuser’s finger when she recognized his face and his accent. Ambushed and defenseless, Peter gave into fear and lied, betraying his closest friend.
His background as a lower-class, uneducated member of society who couldn’t even bring home a large enough haul of bacon—or fish, in his case—slapped him in the face. He felt disempowered and vulnerable. Unable to stand up to the wheels of a corrupted world.
But what if you have already resisted the temptation to succumb to fear or any other weakness? What if you haven’t done anything wrong at all, and horrible, unimaginable things still happen to you? How do you fight those arrows?
Most of you are already familiar by now of the story of my daughter, and how her health, intellect and life itself became threatened overnight.
I have heard stories of fellow parents who faced similar struggles. Parents who faced the pain of losing their child to unexpected health struggles, disabling conditions, miscarriage, or untimely deaths. It is a pain that is hard to describe to anyone who has not experienced it. One I would never wish on my worst enemy.
But imagine having seven sons and seven daughters and getting the news that they all died on the same day. And then your source of livelihood is obliterated. And your physical health gets destroyed. And your loving wife begs you just to curse God and die.
Job is the only Biblical example besides Jesus himself of what it is like to suffer extreme cruelty for no apparent reason. Well, at least Jesus had the ultimate purpose of the salvation of humanity to make sense of it. Job was pretty much at a loss in every sense of the word.
According to Job’s estimation, there was no logical reason for him to experience such extreme suffering and therefore it was God who made the error, and not him.
But Job, like many of us, suffered from the just world fallacy.
The just world fallacy, promoted pervasively throughout popular society, subscribes to the belief that what goes around comes around. Bad things will happen to bad people and good things will happen to good people. A simple system of checks and balances.
But that is not the true state of the fallen world that we live in. Not the true state of a creation that took the blood of an innocent Savior to redeem.
The truth of the matter is that the kingdom of heaven is the only just world we can ever hope for.
Because ever since Eden, we have been beset by a jealous enemy who is seeking to kill, steal, and destroy.
An enemy who transformed the paradise that God created for us into an active warzone.
But God did not turn his back on us in the Garden or at the cross. And he will not turn his back on us today.
But even the best of soldiers cannot be strengthened without training and practice. That is why the armor of God Paul writes about is so important.
But the piece of armor that is especially important when arrows fly is the shield of faith. And that is a piece that Judas, Peter, Job, and yours truly have all struggled with.
Although the price of the lesson was steep, Judas finally learned that he had set his sights on a horizon that was far too worldly for the vision of God.
Although he stumbled and faltered, Peter finally learned that you can never feed Jesus’s sheep the spiritual food they need when you are too easily intimidated by worldly opposition.
Although he struggled to understand, Job finally learned that the power of God was greater than his limited worldly vision and that it was only through that higher power–not his personal righteousness–that he could truly be saved from attacks of the enemy.
And through my own walk of faith I have likewise learned important lessons about the shield of faith from the God who held me every step of the way.
I have learned that the horizon of worldly privilege is not the right one to lead me into my highest calling. I have learned that the life I have built in my smaller world has brought me the greater privilege of truer relationships and a more deeply-felt influence than the shallower society I was born into could have ever afforded me.
Even when controversies rage, I have also learned that the pressures and prejudices of the world will never diminish the love and power of God, nor should it compromise my confidence in my own calling or my willingness to seek out the best in the neighbors God wants me to serve.
And I have learned that no single act of my own will ever diminish my need for the higher power that sees me through every heartache, showers me with every blessing, and promises me the reward of eternal peace and joy when my last battle has been fought.
Don’t make me do all the talking – I’d love to hear from you!
- What has helped you take up the shield of faith when arrows hit?
- Are there any verses that strengthen through seasons of doubt?
- Do you want to hear about anything else? Any prayer requests?
Just shoot me an email – don’t be shy! And I promise to reply!
|Want to know your divine calling? Find out with my “Discover Your Destiny” Quiz!|
BEAUTY IN TODAY
Check out these awesome photos from readers like you!
PHOTO CREDITS (top to bottom, left to right): “A Mighty Fortress” by C.W. Briar, Warwick Castle, England; “Backyard Paradise” by Eva Marie Everson, Winter Springs, Florida; “Pretty in Pink” by Le Huynh Tram Le, Athens, Tennessee, “White Iris,” by Vince Vawter, Louisville, Tennessee; “Destined to Shine” by Kelly Jefferson, Destin, Florida; “Footprints on the Horizon” by Cindy Rhoda, Panama City, Florida; .
Want to share your “Beauty in Today” picture or inspirational musings? Shoot me an email and you just might be featured in my next issue!
Subscribe to get access
Read more of this content when you subscribe today. SubscribeLog in
Thanks for visiting with us today! I hope I’ve helped you feel encouraged! – Kristi
Want to join my Cainspirations family of heroes? Click here!
Work looks a lot like play for Kristi Cain and includes freelance writing for Crosswalk, inspirational blogging, writing fantastical stories of Christian fiction, teaching English to teens, and being able to say, “I’m a former journalist.” Home is nestled in the Smoky Mountain foothills with her husband and teenage children. If you ever want a little encouragement in your day, check out her newsletter. Hop over to her website for her latest happenings and join her Facebook group, a fun, faith-based community.
Cain’s life experiences and faith journey have lent her the lens through which she shapes stories of unlocking the light of destiny out of darkness. Through her writing, she hopes to encourage people to understand that the difficult places in life can be the very ingredients that shape the greatest destinies.
Join my email list
By clicking submit, you agree to share your email address with the site owner and Mailchimp to receive marketing, updates, and other emails from the site owner. Use the unsubscribe link in those emails to opt out at any time.