Life is hard. I think most of us can agree with this statement. Certainly there is much beauty that surrounds us, but the undeniable truth is that life is also quite the struggle. Most of us spend our days either ignoring these struggles, or simply trying to avoid them.We just have to grin and bear it, and eventually we will be able to move past the struggle, and once again we will be see the beauty. The beauty is what we are after, but the struggle seems to be where we often find ourselves.
Two things are on my mind this morning.
How we respond to the struggles of life says much about us. My default is to blame other people or to blame my circumstances. I am a perfect illustration of Genesis 3:12-13. After man sinned in the garden, God asked man what happened…Instead of fessing up he decided to blame both the woman and even God himself…”This woman YOU gave me, she is the one who gave me the fruit!” In the same way, the woman also blamed the serpent. Neither the man nor the woman were willing to take the blame for their own actions. Instead of appealing to and trusting in the mercy of God, they chose to take the low road and say, “It isn’t my fault!”
Now, perhaps we can give Adam and Eve a pass. They’d never sinned before, so perhaps they didn’t have that great a grasp on the mercy of God. Perhaps they didn’t fully understand how this grace thing worked. We don’t have this excuse. We’ve been seeing people sin for quite a while. We’ve only lived in the midst of sinners. In fact, all we’ve ever been is sinners. Yet, we’ve also seen grace in action, especially in the person of Christ.
The point I’m trying to make is this. My biggest problem isn’t my circumstances. My biggest problem isn’t other people. My biggest problem is myself. The struggle is there for all of us. Yet, the issue is not really the struggle, but how I respond to the struggle. Do I blame everyone, including God? Or do I accept the struggle, accept my responsibility for the struggle, and hand it over to God appealing to his rich steadfast love and mercy? (Psalm 51:1) Turning it over to God is the only right answer. This is true whether we are speaking of sin (our own or of someone else) or any other struggle of life. The fact is, whatever your struggle, whatever your circumstance…God has you there for a reason. This doesn’t make it easy, but seen in the proper light, wherever you are, whatever ever your situation…is an opportunity to glorify God. (I am reminded once again of Philippians 1:20-27)
And this takes me to my last point. Perhaps the struggle is the point. Perhaps the struggle is the beauty of it all. There is nothing more beautiful than the love, mercy, and grace of God. This is never more evident than in the midst of trying times. It might take us a while to see it, but once we are able to re-center and refocus ourselves on God we know this to be true. Apart from these struggles we could never know the the mercies of God, at least not in any experiential way. This is true in speaking of sin, sickness, or even death. It’s even true when the kids are driving you nuts or the drive-thru is slower than it should be. So, perhaps the struggles are there to point us to God.
Maybe, just maybe, the struggle isn’t the opposite of beauty…Maybe, the struggle is all part of the beauty.