In the final scenes of The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta peer into the countryside from the train that returns them to their district. Peeta asks Katniss, “What do we do now?” She replies, “I guess we try to forget.” Peeta and Katniss have literally had to fight for their lives and have discovered love in the process. Their experience has been incredibly tough, one that wasn’t asked for but chosen for them by lottery. Peeta responds: “But I don’t want to forget.”
I watched that scene and instantly noticed the parallels. I’ve had tough times and we all do. Let me share some points this scene rehearses for me.
- Never forget the days that humble you. In fact, they’re unforgettable because they’re often full of pain that grinds us down in positive ways we don’t realize until months and years later. We shouldn’t forget these periods because God, in his providence, oftentimes orders our steps through these places, always with a purpose and providing for our safety. We must embrace these tough times for the spiritual training they provide and certainly as grace afforded us. I’ve learned to thank God for the hard times in my life. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything now because I’ve gained too much from them.
- Hard times should prove the good in us. They should be a constant reflection to us of how well-equipped we are for our challenge; of our spiritual strength and progress, although our knees may buckle at times. Our perspective should also change: God doesn’t send us through a wilderness to be conquered. If anything is to be lost, then the course is designed to necessarily relieve us of excesses and encumbrances impeding of God’s purpose in us, for which we always need refinement. In the end, God wants to make a show of us to us.
- Pain produces shared intimacy that can otherwise never be known. People who experience incredible hardships or disasters together are often knit heart-to-heart forever thereafter. This is why Peeta says what he does. Their lives were at stake and they had to trust one another in the most ultimate way. They learned things about themselves and each other and had to use it to survive. The situation was serious; there was no playing around, not even with words. Our relationship with God is the same. Those who rely on God through their toughest times gain an intimacy with him others who neglect him cannot know. People often desire the spiritual connection they perceive in some. But it won’t be acquired apart from walking with God wherever he leads—and that includes through tough times.
The chorus of Colton Dixon’s beautiful song “Through All of It” says:
“I have won and I have lost,/ I got it right sometimes,/ But sometimes I did not./ Life’s been a journey;/ I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret./ O! And you have been my God through all of it.”