To be fair, she was having a rough week. Lots of sick kiddos and sleepless nights along with the other responsibilities and burdens of life were certainly weighing on her. But what caught me off guard was that I could relate with her more than I expected to. I was surprised because my empathy did not come from having also enviously watched others enjoy a beautiful vacation while I trudged through life at home (although, I have definitely experienced that before). Instead, my understanding came from what I going through at that exact moment thousands of miles away on a tropical beach — an oasis of supposed perfection.
You see, while our setting appeared perfect, our life was far from it. We had great difficulty adjusting to such a big time difference, which meant that sleep was challenging and we were extremely tired. Additionally, both my daughter and my husband experienced sickness when we first arrived. It will come as no surprise that we all struggled with feeling irritable, overtired, and run-down.
So when I received my friend’s message, it was a much-needed and timely reminder of two very basic truths. Life will always be hard, but God is always good.
1. Life is Hard
No matter where we go, we cannot escape the reality that on this side of eternity, life is hard. Sickness, trial, sinfulness, and troubles will always follow us because we live in a sin-cursed world, and we ourselves are sinners.
So often I am quick to blame my circumstances for what I feel or how I act. It is very easy to buy into the lie that if I could only change my circumstances, then my life would be easier or better. Giving credence to the “if onlys” is such an easy thing to do.
This list could go on forever. It doesn’t help that this kind of thinking is also typically accompanied by a mindset that compares our lot in life to those around us. We look at the lives of others who seem to be unencumbered by trouble or difficulty or who always seem to enjoy the kind of experiences we wish we could have. We begin to feel we are missing out while the rest of the world is happy, content, and loving life.
Just because I was in paradise didn’t cancel out what I was feeling, experiencing, or the sinful tendencies of my heart.
Scripture is clear that life is hard.
“And to Adam [God] said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19
“Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” Job 14:1
“All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it.” Ecclesiastes 1:8a
We cannot outrun or escape hard things in this life. It is part of living in a broken world. We do ourselves great harm when we buy into the “if onlys” or the idea that the grass is greener somewhere else. Trouble is everywhere. But, thankfully that is not the end. Because, while life is hard, there is another, unchanging truth that brings us great comfort.
2. God is Good
One of the most encouraging statements in Scripture is the “But God’s.” Thirty-one times in the Bible we find these occasions where there are hurts, difficulties, or even what appear to be insurmountable circumstances. However, when all seems darkest, we are reminded that God has been and always will be on His throne. He is working His sovereign plan that cannot be thwarted, ensures He will be glorified, and extends to us His kindness and goodness.
Life is filled with grief, pain, betrayal, sickness, and troubles. BUT GOD. God is still good. The hardships we face don’t change God’s goodness; in fact, they cannot even touch Him. They cannot in any way affect His plans, His love, and His goodness.
Consider for a moment all the pain, injustice, and difficulty that Joseph faced. By the grace of God, Joseph was able to see and understand that not only was God doing good to him in spite of his circumstance but also because of them!
God used even the selfish, cruel, and sinful actions of others to grow Joseph and eventually establish him in a place of blessing. God was with him in the pit, when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, and throughout years in prison. God sustained Joseph with daily goodness while preparing him for future blessings.
God does the same for us. But unlike Joseph, we often lack eyes to see it.
When my husband, Tyler, and I were dating, he would often comment to me about how beautiful Georgia is. I found this a little odd, since he was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. When I asked him why he could be in awe of any place over the landscape of Colorado, he replied, “Everything here is so lush and green! There are trees and rolling hills! We don’t have that in Colorado. Yes, there are mountains, but everything is brown.”
His response struck me. It wasn’t that I didn’t think my home state was beautiful, but I realized that I had grown accustomed to it. Having just moved here, Tyler had fresh eyes and a different perspective. He saw clearly what I looked past.
So it is with God’s goodness. It is always there, whether were are simply facing minor frustrations or truly painful trials. We just need to open our eyes to see it.
The grass isn’t greener somewhere else. It is green in Hawaii and it is green in Georgia. And instead of focusing on the grass, we ought to focus on its Maker. No matter what we face, His goodness and His blessings are everywhere.
Let us keep our eyes on Him and be quick to recognize His good and gracious gifts, which are all around us if we will only have eyes to see them.
How have you seen God's goodness in your life recently?
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