Details in the Fabric
A question that I get asked a lot, though usually not directly, is "Why is life hard?" This question is rephrased in a myriad of ways such as "Why does God let me suffer?" or "If God is a merciful god, why would He let such tragedies occur in the world?" Acknowledging my lack of total understanding, and how I cannot fully comprehend the answers to most of the questions I am asked, I say that God allows bad things to happen because He loves us.
Why ever would a mother allow her baby to fall? She could just hold him forever, always protecting him from all evil that would ever occur. The floors are hard! There are corners on the tables! He could hurt himself! Why would she ever put him down? Maybe she would put him down so that he could learn how to crawl. And then to walk. And when he learns to walk, it is beyond question that he will fall and he will hurt himself and he will cry. Does she want him to fall? No. Does she make him fall? No. If she had it her way, he would just stand up and walk immediately. But any decent mother knows that it just doesn't work like that. She also knows how much better a baby's life is when he learns how to walk. So she puts him down instead of carrying him everywhere.
Likewise, God could certainly have held us in His care forever. We would be safe and innocent and without sin and without cares. But would we have ever learned and progressed? No. He knows good and well that we will stumble and fall and sin. Does he get angry when we stumble? Does a mother get angry when her infant struggles when trying to walk? Of course not. But he rightfully chastizes those who willfully rebel, just as a mother will punish those children who knowingly disobey. The Lord always condemns unrepented rebellion, but when He speaks of weakness, it is always with mercy.
Nevertheless, life's struggles still come to us. We, seemingly unexpectedly at some points in our lives, feel overwhelming feelings of grief and despair. Why are these times not only necessary and eminent, but also good for us? Imagine for a moment that the world on which you live is completely flat and mono-colored. How many Instagram pictures would be posted? How many National Geographic shows would air? Likewise, where would all of the mountain climbers go? All of the satellite pictures of earth? What fun would an island home be if there is no island? Likewise, how boring would life be if you woke up at 11, sat and stared at the ceiling, ate Rasin Bran with skim milk every day, never got sick, never got out of the house, then went to bed at midnight, only to do the same thing again tomorrow? We were made of the stuff of legend, of the stuff of God. We were made for more! Our lives are beautiful and they were made to be enjoyed. No, climbing our own personal mountains are not always fun at the time, and descending to the very bottom of our own personal valleys are not always in our New Years Resolutions, but we can learn to embrace the view at the top of the mountain as well as the journey. We can learn to bask in the grandeur of the microscopic views at the bottom of the valleys. Yes, we can even learn to enjoy the journey. What great painting was only painted with yellow and gold, yet left out the blues and greys? We need all kinds of experiences to shape and mold us. Be grateful for the happy times and be grateful in the sad ones. We should learn to love life, no matter what "life" means to us. Learning that glorious eternal perspective afforded us by the gospel of Jesus Christ is something that can help shape us, define us, lift us, and inspire us to have an attitude of gratitude in all of our circumstances. The details in the fabric of our existence are not always smooth and pleasant, but they help to transform us into the divine beings we are destined to become.
Love is not something that we are inherently good at. Rather, it is something that can be practiced and improved. Likewise, living in a state of wonder and awe and gratitude is something that we can all improve on. It is not something that we either have or we don't, but it is something we can pray and ask for. We can be grateful in all that we do. We are only living a fraction of the life we can live if we do not learn to appreciate all of the colors in our glorious artwork of life. Please learn to be grateful for all of the experiences that you have. Love the Lord and love yourself, and especially learn to love everyone around you.
Good luck to all of the returning students and teachers.