Kara Tippetts and Brittany Maynard, ISIS, a Drop Box for abandoned babies, Pastor Saeed Abediniaddictions, affairs. The hard stuff. These are all stories Shattered has engaged in, listened to, and then told. Why? Because stories help us think about and deal with the tough things of life.

We Don’t Like Stories About ISIS

…And we try not to think too hard about war. We don’t have good answers for these evils, so we push them out of our minds. But when we hear about the missionary family working and raising kids in Iraq, bringing the lost to Jesus amid the darkness of ISIS, our perspective changes. We get a short glimpse of the potential danger and how to pray, but we also see how the glory of God is being displayed amid terrifying circumstances. And we are pushed to consider what we may be asked to do for the advance of the Gospel.

We Don’t Like Stories About Dying People

…Or about having to make decisions like Kara Tippetts and Brittany Maynard did. Telling their stories has reminded us that it’s a heart-wrenching, sucker-punching game of never: there’s never a good time for death; saying goodbye is never easy; and we’ll never get used to the silence. But their stories make us think about how we will face death if (“for we shall not all sleep!”) and when our moment comes. We’re pushed to recognize that death may happen sooner rather than later. And it may not be in the easy chair surrounded by our loved ones after a long, happy life. Instead, it may be at the mercy of a vicious disease, or at the hands of bloodthirsty extremists, or at the end of the spear. Their stories beg us to answer the question of how we will face death—will it be with the peace of God and for the glory of the Gospel?

We Don’t Like Stories About Abandoned Babies

…Or babies that never even made it out of the womb. But the story of The Drop Box Movie and Pastor Lee Jong-rak made us ponder the precious innocence of a new life. Our hearts melt at the sight of unwanted babes, wrapped and left for someone else to care for. And we realize what Pastor Lee is doing isn’t much different from what God has done for us—wrapped us in His arms, loved us, and adopted us into His own family. We are moved by this story, and our hearts are renewed with fervor, gratitude, and passion for the Gospel.

We Don’t Like Stories About Persecuted Christians

We wince our way through Pastor Saeed Abedini’s letters from prison in Iran. But through his story, our souls are bolstered by his unshakable faith, his zeal for proclaiming the Gospel, and devotion in the face of cruelty. We are driven to purposeful prayer and compassion for the persecuted church because of his story.

We Don’t Like Hard Stories…But We Need Them

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like any of these stories. I don’t like thinking about them, I don’t like reading them, and I don’t like writing about them. But my faith has in fact been strengthened, my heart gladdened, and my worship enriched because of these stories. I have known God more fully and loved Him more wholly because of how He is present in each of these stories.

So yes, read their stories. Think about the tough stuff. Ask the hard questions. Know God in the unanswerable. Pray for those living hard stories. And be more alive in your story than you’ve ever known.