aurora-borealisLet’s face it – life is just one big raw deal. Now do I mean this in the melancholic, overly-dramatic, “Oh, poor me” sense? No. It’s just reality. Everyone experiences pain, everyone has issues. Every human being who’s ever existed came face-to-face regularly with the disappointments inherent in life from the moment of his or her birth (and perhaps even before).

Our existence is difficult and challenging and draining . . . why do we expect otherwise? What is this irrational, sadistic drive in us that tries to put demands on this life that it was never meant to live up to? Jesus Himself, God in the flesh, didn’t escape the pain, injustice, and frustrations of life – why do we think we should we be so lucky? What do we suppose makes us so special?

Well, the fact is that we are special. We were created in the image of a holy, perfect God for intimate love and relationship with Himself. And the neurotic impulse? It knows this truth better than we could ever imagine.

It is that within us which expects the life we were created to have, the one that was marred in the beginning, and the one that we will have again if Christ has His way in us. C. S. Lewis framed it as such: “If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world.”

The Bible is rife with references to the suffering we will experience while here on earth (e.g., James 1:2; I Peter 1:6, 4:12). Our world is partially controlled, for the time being, by a vicious fiend who hates humanity with a passion we can only guess at (I Peter 5:8). The fact that there’s any joy to be found in this life at all is an incredible blessing . . . as well as a down payment on what’s to come.

Mindful of that, there’s a lesson I learned in recovery that’s stuck with me to this day . . . that abiding joy is impossible in this temporal realm without moment-by-moment, volitional acceptance of reality. Not what may be possible, not what we might fervently wish for, but that which actually is.

Since our spirits yearn for a level of satisfaction and serenity not wholly available to us in our present circumstances, we are constantly ripe for frustration and anger (which cause us to focus on ourselves and lose sight of God’s plan). However, the practice of acceptance frees us to both enjoy every blessing that comes our way, in whatever guise it takes, as well as value every difficulty we encounter for the purpose hidden in the pain – as opposed to stubbornly demanding that life conform to our specific expectations and raging against the universe like two-year-olds when it (invariably) doesn’t.

The thing is, this life is what we have (for now) and, as messy as it is capable of being, we really should make the best of it. Even with all the heartache and sorrow that’s bound to meet us along the way, this journey is worth taking.

God had the power to foresee every possible world He could have created and yet He chose this one. Part of me wants to scream, “What were you thinking? Don’t you get how much this sucks?” But, since He is God and I am not, I have to believe (and accept) that this raw deal of a creation is the best one somehow – if for no other reason than the redemption of all that is broken may ultimately bring Him the greatest degree of pleasure and glory.
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