That’s what my 96-year-old Meme told me last year not too long before she passed away in January. We were filling in a book of memories for grandmothers to leave for their children and grandchildren. The question asked what she had learned about life…and that was the answer. Not beautiful or joyful or fun…just “complicated.”
And what a gift that answer was to me. Because that answer was real.
I don’t know one person who doesn’t have some sort of complication in their life. Illness, financial predicaments, or broken relationships that have led to anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, discouragement, loneliness, depression, or hurt feelings.
Then there are the heartbreaking situations that go beyond “complicated” to downright devastating. Families left in unfathomable grief because of precious children and parents taken from this life way too soon. Kidnapping, murder, bullying, sex trafficking, drugs, suicide…the darkness in this world just seems to threaten to overtake any glimmer of light.
But y’all, today as I turned to scripture for comfort, I was reminded that none of this is new. None of this should be surprising. And none of this is final for those of us who know the Lord.
Ecclesiastes 7:15 says, “I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people.” 9:12 continues, “People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy.” And in 11:5, “Just as you cannot understand the ways of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.”
This life is complicated. But it’s not the conclusion of our story.
These complicated situations, these tragedies in our lives, maybe what living this life is all about. A blessing in disguise. Jesus told his disciples in Luke 21:12-13, “…you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.” Y’all, the hard things give us a platform to share with others, to tell others about Jesus, and to proclaim His goodness as we rest in these three things:
The confident expectation of what God has promised.
Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
There is hope for healing and restoration through Jesus, y’all. And if we are truly thankful…overflowing with thankfulness…for the promise of what’s to come…we can’t sit idly by while others walk in darkness. Isaiah 35 tells us what is to come…the hope of restoration we can have…what a blessing this is:
“Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!… With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you…And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its’ course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” What a beautiful promise.
My precious friends, as this holiday season approaches, take some time to thank the Lord for the possibility of faith, hope, and love because of His sacrifice. Thank Him for His goodness in the midst of the bad. His light in the midst of darkness. His peace in the midst of unspeakable pain. Thank the Lord that His grace and mercy are given freely to us all. And share what He has done and is doing in your life with someone else who needs the hope that you have.
What a gift this complicated life can be.
On telling others what He has done: Ps.105:1, Is.12:4, Luke 21:12-14
On praising Him in the good and bad: Ecc. 7:13-14, Is.45:7, Job 2:10
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