So the story goes:
Daniel (Ralph Macchio), a new kid in town keeps getting beaten up by a gang of karate-trained peers. One night, his landlord, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) comes to his rescue, and with his own incredibly-honed karate skills, pretty much takes down the entire crew. He makes a deal with them to keep their hands off of Daniel until the upcoming Karate tournament. The next morning, Daniel begs Mr. Miyagi to train him in karate so that he has a chance of surviving the tournament. Miyagi finally agrees and tells him to show up in the morning to begin training.
However, much to Daniel’s dismay, when he arrives, instead of an actual “karate lesson”, he is given the assignment of waxing every single car in Miyagi’s parking lot. And the movements must be specific and intentional as shown by Miyagi, putting the wax on with a left hand counter-clockwise motion, and wiping it off with a right hand clockwise motion - emphasizing the phrase made famous by this movie, “wax on, wax off”.
Daniel goes home tired, sore, and slightly frustrated by this first unusual day of “training”. When he arrives the following day, Miyagi has a new task ready – “sand the floor”…. Again, specific movements, and a lot of work sanding Mr. Miyagi’s very large deck. The following day is no different, but this time Miyagi doesn’t even show up. Rather, he leaves supplies and instructions in a note...”paint the fence”….
When Miyagi returns that evening, Daniel has had enough, and explodes with an eruption of frustrated expletives (which we did NOT show the kiddos…) where he accuses Mr. Miyagi of giving him menial chores that make him Miyagi’s slave rather than taking the time to train him. Thus commences Mr. Miyagi’s first demonstration of all that Daniel has learned, as he begins to attack Daniel, while calling out the motions of the past few days “Show me wax on!” “Show me sand floor!” “Show me paint the fence!” Daniel is awed by how these actions have helped him learn Miyarn defensive blocks through muscle memory. It is one of those moving cinema moments that make you wanna shake your fist in the air and yell “YEAH! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!!”
Our point was to teach our kids that they had a choice to see each frustrating situation in our home as an opportunity to allow God to train them to be their best (displaying patience, compassion, self-control, etc.) but God had some more to teach me through Daniel and Miyagi…
Many times, we are asking God for help, wisdom, change, strength and other things to enable us to rise above our circumstances. But he seems to be absent. Quiet. Uncaring. Uninvolved. Unmoved by our outpourings of desperate cries. But that’s just not his character. We see how he worked in the lives of Abraham, Job, Joseph, Mary, Lazarus, Paul, and JESUS. And if we look closely enough, we will understand that sometimes the trial IS the answer.
I’ll never forget a time in my life about a year after adopting our youngest two children from Rwanda, when I was literally “drowning” in failure, frustration and a total lack of what I felt I needed from God to do all that he had called me to do (a big part of which was homeschooling 4 kids, 3 of which had differing special needs ranging from medical to severe behavioral). I went to Bible Study one evening with an extremely heavy heart, the weight of all I couldn’t do resting on my shoulders. We started with the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, and as we began to sing the words “all I have needed, thy hand hath provided”, I just had to stop and practically laugh out loud (more like sneer)…And right there I raised my heart to heaven and said, “God, I get that you’re trying to remind me you’re faithful. But I’ve been begging you to meet these needs and change these circumstances so that I can succeed and thrive – heck, so that I can just keep my head above the water! When are you gonna provide ‘all I have needed’?!?”
I was overwhelmed at the still small voice that whispered immediately to my heart…”Child, what if this trial is the VERY THING that you need?” 1 Peter 1:3 says that God, in his divine power, has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED for life and godliness. But sometimes, we forget to trust in the fact that God knows what we need so much more than we do. (If you’re a parent, you can totally grasp this concept! My kiddos have all kinds of distorted conceptions of what they think they “need”, which are in total contrast to what I know is the reality of their needs!)
So then, we must come to a decision. (And sometimes, we have to make it a daily, hourly choice!) Are we gonna trust that God’s training program is going to produce more fruit than could ever be harvested in our own wisdom? (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Are we gonna trust that even when he seems “absent”, he is working for our good? (1 Kings 19:11-13) Are we gonna trust that HIS GLORY is of far greater worth than OUR COMFORT? (Romans 8:18)
“God is a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1), but He permits trouble to pursue us, as though He were indifferent to its overwhelming pressure, that we may be brought to the end of ourselves and led to discover the treasure of darkness, the immeasurable gains of tribulation We may be sure that He who PERMITS the suffering is with us IN IT. It may be that we shall see him only when the trial is passing; but we must DARE TO BELIEVE that He never leaves the crucible.” (Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Streams in the Desert)
And one day we’ll get it. We’ll hear “SHOW ME WAX ON!” And be amazed at the godly response instilled in us during the darkest of days we had to endure. We’ll hear “SHOW ME PAINT THE FENCE” and stand back in awe as our service to him has produced fruit we could never have imagined. We’ll hear “SHOW ME SAND FLOOR!” and bow, overwhelmed at a compassionate God, now glorified in us, who never for one moment forgot us, but spent every moment, unbeknownst to us turning to good what the enemy meant for evil.
“Your plans are still to prosper,
You have not forgotten us
You're with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us.”