Life is a combination of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, celebration and tribulation. The Bible says “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 At times if feels like you’re on top of the world and at other times you feel like all you can do is keep your nose above water for fear of drowning. Life is not about sailing through our days in a lulled state of reverie, but of actively being alive and experiencing all the ups and downs that come with it.
This past month has been a particularly challenging one for me. While it was not the worse one of my life, it did present me with an assortment of challenges. The question is how do I keep myself from falling into a pit of despair? How do any of us handle these unexpected challenges? The answer is to keep our focus on the number one priority in our life – God. St. Paul writes, “ but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” When faced with difficulties, we press on, keeping our eyes focused on Christ because “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Phillipians 3:14
You might argue that this is easier said than done, particularly in certain situations. A person who is facing or experiencing a job loss, a life-threatening illness, or perhaps even death would find it difficult at best to believe that it will work out, especially if there seems like no hope. The truth is, however, that with God there is always hope, always an answer, even if it is not the one we expect. I am sure the disciples felt hopeless when they saw Jesus crucified and buried. It seemed like all their dreams were shattered. But that is the point we need to be aware of. There is a big difference between what something seems like and what is. It may seem at times like there is no hope, but with God there is always a solution. God has a plan even if we don’t know what it is and He is always involved in our lives. God cared so much about us that He sent His only Son to die for each and every one of us so that we would have eternal life – so that we would never be lost and alone.
One night a couple of weeks ago, as I was driving home from caring for my daughter who was recovering from surgery, my car was damaged from road construction and the tire blew out. As I sat there late that night waiting for the tow truck, I expected at any moment that I would burst into tears. This was the culmination of a rough few weeks and I was exhausted and uncertain as to how to pay for these car repairs that I knew would be expensive. What happened, however, was quite amazing. As I sat there waiting and uncertain, I started singing. I began to sing How Great Thou Art and as I sang, the grace of God poured through my veins as hard as the rain poured down outside the car. My spirit was lifted and the peace of God transformed me. I didn’t know how things were going to turn out, but I knew that God would work it out somehow for His glory.
There are quite a few things in my life that are uncertain, but one thing is quite certain – God said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And therefore, as St. Paul said, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 How can we boast about our weaknesses, about our pain, about our struggles? We can boast because we have the assurance that God’s glory will be shown through these events. Christ rose from the dead and is alive. If Christ conquered death, than certainly He can conquer any of the challenges that face us and He sends reminders – moments of grace – at just the right time.
These reminders are often found in the most unusual circumstances, even on car license plates. I am intrigued and often surprised by the different vanity plates I see on cars. One license plate has caught my attention for a long time. It is parked in the parking lot where I work and says AINVIAT. I’ve never been able to figure it out, until last week, when the driver (who happened to be someone I’ve worked with, but didn’t know it was his car) started driving away. As we greeted one another, I stopped him and told him that I have wanted to know what the license plate means and I was glad to have the chance to ask him. He replied that it is Romanian for He is Risen! What an unexpected moment of grace at a time when I needed it the most. Yes, He is risen indeed and He is with us always until the end of time! God makes a space for grace in our lives even in the most unexpected of circumstances. AINVIAT! He is risen indeed!