The following article was written and submitted for publication by Cherokee Christian High School student, Benjamin Koehler, Class of 2017.
Have you ever felt discouraged? In this world, it happens more often than not. Places like school or the workplace can be filled with discouragement, and unfortunately even at home with our families it’s easy to get discouraged over little things. It’s easy to talk about hope and thankfulness, but when life seems to take all your joy away, living it out seems near impossible. Being a pressured high-schooler, I know that when I encounter hardship in life, it’s hard to remember that everything happens for a reason.
That’s exactly the lesson a popular TV superhero learned not too long ago. With the recent debut of the new season of The Flash, fans have gotten to see what happens when their hero, Barry Allen, is able to take back all the things life took away from him by time traveling. It starts out wonderful at first. He has the girl of his dreams, someone else is playing hero for him, and both his parents are alive (something he hasn’t experienced for a long time). But things get a little messy after a while.
As Barry traverses this brave new world where he has supposedly fixed all his problems, he starts to realize his mistake. In this new reality, one of his close friends has train-wrecked his life, and another is an egomaniacal businessman who only cares about his money. Many of his friends and family find themselves feeling off-kilter, like something is missing, and as Barry learns more and more about how he twisted reality, he also finds that his actions are destroying him – literally. The more he lives his new life the more his old one ceases to exist, and his old self ceases to exist. As his memories start to fade away, Barry realizes that changing the story of his life was the wrong decision, and he ends up in the sorry state of begging his rival to undue his wrongs.
Now, although the show makes no reference to God, and has nothing to do with school, the spiritual lesson to be learned for our student lives is invaluable. Life has been unkind to many of us, and though we may not be time-travelling super heroes, we have our own battles to face in our lives as workers and students. As a student, I know that our struggles can sometimes feel like unbearable burdens. This leads us to think that we would be better off if they were erased from our lives, but we’re missing the point.
Barry Allen is an example of someone who made a mistake of trying to play God, and who got bitten back for it. In trying to do what he thought would be best for his life, what he thought he deserved, he ended up digging himself into a pit of even worse despair. It’s easy to see, and yet all too often we so foolishly assume that if we were in control of our lives we could do better. We are willing to be thankful for blessings, but have you ever
stopped and tried to be thankful for a trial? It’s not as if our goods, relationships, opportunities, and other such gifts in our lives are our only blessings, and our trials are our curses. That next test, that painfully stressful project, they aren’t problems that God has accidently let affect us. They are blessings too. If you think about it, the only reason Barry was a hero was because of his tragic history, and as much as that made him hurt, it did more good than harm in the long run.
It’s natural for us to get discouraged, especially since high school is often a massive sleep-stealing, stress-inducing confuddleball that sometimes seems to gnaw away at students. But we shouldn’t see it as a curse on our lives or it will truly become one. If we start to assume that life would be better if we could obtain what we thought we deserved, we will make the same mistake as Barry, albeit with a little less time travel involved. Instead, all the trials and sorrow and pain are things we should look at with hope. They aren’t problems for us, they are only small obstacles that make us better, make us who we are meant to be.
So next time you have that terrifying test, or problematic presentation, don’t wallow in your agony. Give thanks for all the things that come your way. Sure, it’s not exactly as glorious as running through the streets with superpowers, but it’s just as important. If you really want to take life into your own hands, it’s not about how you change your
situation, it’s about how you let your situation change you. That in mind, go and be thankful for your blessings and your trials. Your thankfulness is the first step to taking back your joy.