The joys and sorrows of life. We all face them. How privileged we are to traverse life's path with those who willingly come alongside us. What a blessing to be an encouragement to another when the roles are reversed.
In the past couple of months, I've watched life's roller coaster deal mountain top experiences to some, while plunging others into devastating valleys. Rejoicing with those experiencing motherhood for the first time, and crying with others over catastrophic marital difficulties, and the death of loved ones. Because of sin, I know there will be difficulty and suffering. I have to admit, it can be a bit overwhelming when the tidal wave of adversity crashes in, threatening to engulf everyone in its path.
King Solomon penned the stark truth, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; KJV). There IS a season for everything. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul spells out one of the practical responsibilities of believers, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).
I think I've got the 'rejoicing' part down. It's fun to be a part of the joyous celebrations of life - graduations, weddings, births. The difficulty begins when we're called on to help the one facing marital struggles, be there for the heartbroken, or sit with a dying family member. My tendency is to shrink back from these 'uncomfortable' situations and let someone else handle them. But if I'm to put feet to my faith, I'll overcome my selfishness and be there in both the good times and the bad.
Although I may not always understand the 'whys' of life, I am confident that each circumstance presents an opportunity for faith to grow. James put it this way, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:2-4). The certainty is that trials and difficulties will come. The question becomes, will life's trials and difficulties make or break our faith?
While navigating the pathway of life, everything we encounter is designed to draw us into a closer relationship with the Lord. His plan is not to keep us from pain, but to mature and perfect us, to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). He won't force us to be conformed. The choice is ours. Will we allow the hardships in our life and in the lives of others to solidify and grow our faith? Or will we become disillusioned in the process? The next time you encounter difficulty, or are called upon to be there for a friend, allow yourself to be rooted and grounded in Christ so the storms of life become useful tools to cultivate life-changing faith!