Yesterday I was thinking about the people I know. About their situations, marriages, all that…how things are with jobs, kids…y’know, the stuff life is made of. I was thinking about my own family members…parents, children. I couldn’t think of one single person who didn’t have some sort of difficulty going on. Maybe it’s a marriage, or health thing, or some kind of existential struggle.
Is there ever a time when there isn’t some sort of struggle going on? I don’t remember one. Usually there’s several at once and life feels like one of those plate-spinning acts in a circus. Just when you get them all going and it seems like you’re set, a breeze kicks up, and everything starts wobbling.
But that’s ok! Imagine a life without hardship. Imagine having everything you need without having to struggle somehow. We’d be babies. Where’s the fun in that? Where would the sense of accomplishment come from in knowing you’d won the battle and conquered the dragon? How would we learn compassion if we didn’t help someone else through their struggle? How would we learn discernment, if there were no trial-and-error?
Don’t get me wrong, I go through plenty of whining and wondering “WHY ME?” and all sorts of “IT’S NOT FAIR!” but eventually, upon turning the coin over to “why not me? what makes me so special?” it becomes easier to put on the big girl panties and deal with it.
Let’s say you’re in some sort of seemingly intractable circumstance. Let’s say you’ve just been told have a chronic illness that completely turns upside down the way you think about yourself. What do you do? Whine some, say it’s not fair, shake your fist at the heavens and announce to God that you don’t think He loves you or else He would never have done such a thing. Yeah boy, that’s effective. You’re totally going to change God’s mind and make Him say “oh, sorry…let me undo this…” NOT. So then what? What if…you ask God “Now what? What am I supposed to learn from this?” I know. I sound like a chapter from Chicken Soup For The Soul.
But the fact is, we will never have endless ease and comfort, not in this lifetime, not as long as we live in imperfect bodies with other imperfect people around us, with all of us making mistakes and stepping on each other’s feelings. The sooner we realize that the sooner we can quit whining about IT’S NOT FAIR and get on with living.
This was this morning’s reading from C.H. Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening”
“I know how to abound.”—Philippians 4:12.
THERE are many who know “how to be abased” who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the fining-pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry.” It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust. Fulness of bread has often made fulness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry—so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you “how to be full.”
” Let not the gifts Thy love bestows
Estrange our hearts from Thee.”