Faith

13 Reasons to Live: It’s Not Over

Blog_TheaterStageIt was my son’s first time at a play. When the curtain closed after the opening scene, he whispered, “Is it over yet?” I smiled and gently explained that there were many scenes to come before the end. He endured the remaining acts with impressive restraint for a four-year-old, though on the way home he broke down in tears. I thought it was because he’d bumped his head on the theater railing after the play, but instead he cried with greater drama than any of the actors combined, “That play was so long! It was super, super long. It was tooooo long.”

Sometimes in life, the curtain falls too soon. We’re in the midst of a trying circumstance or we’ve made some huge mistake, and we presume it’s over. Not realizing we’re on scene one of a multi-act play, we succumb to despair, thinking there’s no opportunity to redeem the mess we’re in.

Other times, it seems we’re trapped in a never-ending drama. Scene after scene unfolds and we find ourselves asking, “Will it EVER be over? How much more can I possibly endure?” We don’t realize the author has built one scene upon the other to grow his characters until the great and final outcome.

I’ve been thinking on this theme of 13 Reasons to Live for a few weeks now, considering what brings us to the point of despondency and what can bring us out. Wondering how we come to the point of wanting to give up and thinking upon all the reasons we shouldn’t.

Maybe we come to the point where we don’t have the fight in us to make it through one more act. What we don’t realize is this crucial truth of life: It IS a fight. Anything worth living for is worth fighting for, and will take fighting for.

I’m not talking about war in the way of battles and weapons. I’m talking about the day-to-day fight that must be fought for anything that’s good and worthy and true. It’s a spiritual battle, and often emotional, sometimes physical in the way that it drains our reserves and our resolve. If we’re not prepared for the battles that come, we will falter when they do. But if we’re in it for the fight, we’ll endure through the fight.

And what carries us through the daily warzone? The knowledge that we’re in the midst of redemption’s story, in which the Author of all life is the Author of our lives, working every scene together for good.

We may think it’s over, but in His hands, it’s not over until He says so. Only the Author can determine the end.

Or maybe we think it’s endless. But there will come a time when the battles of our days will cease. We’ll see that it was worth the fight, and it was worth our living and enduring. Because no Author starts a good work without bringing it to completion.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

 

Photo Credit: Bella Rose Arts Centre – Wikipedia

Where There is Beauty

Yes, there is suffering. Yes, there is evil. Daily, we’re bombarded with news we’d rather shut our eyes and ears to. Yet still, there is beauty, tenacious beauty. Where there is beauty, there is hope. And if there is hope, there is reason to live.

 

Photo Credit: File:Bodnant Gardens, Petal strewn path – geograph.org.uk …

Greater Things to Come

Everything which would seek to steal beauty from this world and joy from our lives is compost for the greater things to come. Every tear is a seed sown, the ground watered for greater things to come. All the horrors of history, all the tragedies of today are nothing compared to the glory God will one day reveal.

 

Photo Credit: Flower Path | A flower path runs through trees at a display … | Flickr

Looking Beyond

When we live with our eyes trained on suffering, our lives become laden with despair. We may become convinced we have nothing to live for. But when we train our eyes beyond, we see there is so much more.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Valley, View, Landscape, Vegetation – Free Image on …

Stop and Consider

Blog_MountainView01

Have you ever considered the vast beauty that surrounds us, not only in flowers, but in trees and hills, mountains and valleys, rivers and seas, canyons and waterfalls? Have you ever appreciated the exquisite uniqueness of each animal that graces air, sea, and land? And does it ever confound you that each of these exist despite the surrounding death and decay? The evils of earth pale in comparison to the beauty which prevails.

 

Photo Credit: Mountain, Landscape – Free images on Pixabay

The Modern Paradox

It’s the paradox of this fame-starved generation. We’re told to hunger for world-wide significance, when all the while that banquet table is bankrupt. This isn’t Hollywood. The average person will not become famous, while those who do live under the constant scrutiny of their so-called admirers. The sooner we let go of the pursuit of self-exaltation, the sooner we’ll find contentment.

 

Photo Credit: Tablecloth – Free images on Pixabay

13 Reasons to Live: the Promise of Redemption

I recently attended a birthday party where my kids received tokens to play games for which they could win tickets. After depleting their supply of tokens, they took their tickets to the exchange counter, hearts hopeful their few hours of play would earn a decent prize. With expectancy in their eyes, they gazed up at the toys, games, and oversized stuffed animals looming before them.

How disappointing when the desk clerk re-directed their gaze to the sparse supply of mini-candies behind the glass counter. Yes, 1,000 tickets would earn a prize. Three bite-sized candies.

At least my kids are easily contented enough to be satisfied with a night of fun and a few chocolates. But I’ll have to admit, my calculations of token cost to ticket wins to actual prize results left me doubtful I’d return to that venue apart from another party invitation. All that work earning tickets failed to yield a worthy result.

It got me thinking of another promise of a greater exchange: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Here, we are told that ALL THINGS will be used for good by the God whom we love. The blessed. The bad. The painful. The tear-rending. ALL will one day be redeemed. ALL will be used for good.

And we will not be disappointed.

God makes good on his promises. He will not give us a handful of candy in exchange for our trials. One day, whether here on earth or in the glory of heaven, we will see. God, the master designer, weaves good from every thread of pain wrought on this earth. That’s what makes him God.

He alone is able to redeem the worst of circumstances to bring forth something beautiful.

A precious woman named Corrie ten Boom endured the deepest of hells in a World War II concentration camp. After losing her Father and her sister to the ravages of suffering, she was able to stand and say, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” I can’t imagine coming through such horrors with confident assurance of God’s goodness. Yet Corrie knew that somehow, in some way, all her suffering would yield a greater return both here and in the age to come.

We may think that all the suffering life brings is reason enough to end our own. But the knowledge that we have a God who is able to bring beauty from ashes, joy from tears, and praise from despair is reason enough to live.

Now my kids’ short-lived disappointment in getting a less-than-expected prize is nothing compared to the disappointment many of us have experienced in life. But it serves as a timely reminder that IN GOD’S HANDS, nothing is wasted. He will exchange all our suffering for something good. We can’t see it now, but one day, we will see. And it’s gonna be worth it.

Photo Credit: Caves Background 1 Free Stock Photo – Public Domain Pictures