Three or four months ago, I noticed that the teenagers coming into the office were wearing these silicone bracelets with one white ball and one black ball. I originally blew it off as another teen trend, until I was introduced to them personally. I fell in love with the concept of the lokai bracelet as soon as I understood what it meant and where it came from. A gentleman had a life-changing experience in his college years when he found out that his grandfather was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and would have to helplessly watch his loved one deteriorate from such a sinister degenerative disease. In the midst of and because of that situation, he understood two things: (1) Life is a journey, not a destination; and (2) life is full of ups and downs, and it is up to us to find balance within ourselves in the midst of that. So he created a physical token to remind him of those things. He took water from Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, as a reminder that, when you are at the top, you must remember to stay humble. And then he took mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth, and, incidentally, a desolate place, and that is a reminder to stay hopeful when you are feeling you’ve hit a low point.
Me being me, I immediately fell in love with the concept. Life is such an incredible journey. You meet people, you lose people. You have failures and successes along the way. You learn invaluable lessons, and you get knocked down a few times in the process. But it all serves a purpose, both good times and bad times. I attended a prayer breakfast yesterday, and one of the teaching points was that suffering has a purpose. We usually don’t see it that way when we are deep in the trenches of suffering. But the truth is that some of your greatest moments of growth have been birthed out of your greatest times of struggle and suffering. It’s in those life-changing moments – the loss of a loved one; the loss of a job; heartbreak from a relationship; an unexpected tragedy, that we learn the most. We learn about life, we learn about ourselves, but, most of all, we learn about the character of God. That’s why it’s so important to remember to hold on to hope when you hit a low in your life, when you encounter a valley experience in your life, because God promised that you will come through on the other side, and you will be better for it. Job said this when he was going through:
[Job 23:10 NKJV] But He knows the way that I take; [When] He has tested me; I shall come forth as gold.
The Bible is full of promises that we will not be overtaken by the hard times that life throws at us…
[Romans 5:1-5 NKJV] 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only [that], but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
[Romans 8:28 NKJV] 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.]
[James 1:2-4 NKJV] 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
At the same time, the high points in life are times to remember to be humble. It’s not a time to gloat, because not long before, you were at a low point yourself. It is in the times that you find yourself at a peak, doing well and feeling good about life, that you should take a moment to look back to someone else who is still pressing and speak life to them. Speak a word of encouragement and empowerment to them, so that they can draw strength from that and be able to press the rest of the way through their struggle.
[James 4:6, 10 NKJV] 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” … 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Everyone’s journey is different, because each person learns differently, and grows at different rates and in different ways. So it is important to honor your own journey, and not compare it to anyone else. But it is also important that you not judge the journey of others based on where you are in your own journey. It’s important to take ownership of your journey, to honor your energy, and embrace your purpose as it grows and matures in your journey. And, when you have learned the lesson and learned it well, make sure that you share your story with others so that they will see and know that where they are and the struggles they face are not unique to them and will not be the end of them. One of the most comforting things to hear when you are having a hard time is that someone sees you and they have been there and understand how you feel in that moment. Understand that sometimes it’s not saying that they will survive that is comforting and encouraging, but they are not alone in that struggle and that they are not out on that limb by themselves. Beloved, embrace the journey and the beautiful road that will lead you to your best self, and remember this: Life is a journey, not a destination.
[Hebrews 4:14-16 RSV] Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.