Life can throw curveballs at us that we never saw coming. From simple missed opportunities to life-altering circumstances, we all face the vicissitudes of life. While I have not had life-altering issues, I have seen my own step-children lose their father tragically and horribly.
The reality is that life’s not been fair to so many of us which leads me to ask where do we get the notion that life is supposed to work how we hope or expect? Is it from the stories we are told as children? Was it from the nursery rhymes we learned as infants? I am left to wonder when kids throw temper tantrums which I know there are many reasons for doing so, but I just wonder if even at the tenderest of age, children learn and see expectations being fulfilled in stories and kids TV programs. So when they are being denied something, there needs to be a demonstration of great displeasure by them until the demand is satisfied?
As adults where do we develop expectations about life? Is it by comparison with peers? In a certain social sector of my own culture where children are exposed to domestic violence, girls may grow up with the twisted and bizarre notion that a man displays his love for his spouse by physical beatings. Our society also shapes our expectations in our lives by imposing its values and norms on us.
I have three friends who have had to re-adjust their expectations in life when they lost their beloved wives due to cancer at a time in life when one is expecting to grow old together in retirement, sitting on the veranda watching the sunset each day. Life for them has been abruptly and permanently ‘bent out of shape’.
There are no words for those going through life’s most challenging circumstances, but life must go on. I will always remember a tangerine tree in our backyard which was blown down by one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit our island. The fruit tree lay on its side and we decided not to cut it up but to leave it as is. Years went by and the tree eventually began to bear fruit because, despite its posture, its roots still nourished the tree and it produced wonderful fruit. Like the tangerine tree, we must all find a way to go on, to be resilient in the face of life’s most tumultuous storms.
M Scott Peck wrote the book ‘The Road Less Travelled’ and there he penned a great philosophical truth that weighs in appropriately here:
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
The letter of the Apostle James, the half-brother of Jesus, offers practical wisdom in chapter 5 verse 13:
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.
I would never trivialize the pain of anyone going through painful circumstances and suffering, but the Apostle suggests a two-pronged approach to life, that of PRAYER in suffering and PRAISE in times of good fortune.
Praying when going through rough times must be the ultimate of choices for the believer. We are told by researchers that the average adult makes 35,000 decisions daily or about one every 2.5 seconds. Just like choosing to be happy is an act of the will, so too is the call to pray in tough times.
PRAY and PRAISE as you TRUST and OBEY.