The Bittersweet Nature of Life
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Recently while counseling a friend through a difficult season of life, three words came out of my mouth that helped her (and me) gain perspective and find great peace.
The three words were simply, “Life is bittersweet.” I went on to explain to my friend that although some trials in her life were causing great pain and sorrow, she shouldn’t overlook being thankful for her many blessings. We tend to label and brand our days, weeks, months, years as either good or bad. “I had a good day.” “2008 was a terrible year.” But if we took an honest evaluation I think we’d find that most often, there is a full mixture of good and bad things happening in our lives at the same time.
Life is bittersweet.
Sometimes in life we try so hard to be optimistic that we ignore (or medicate) our pain. I have a cousin who has been going through great trials with his physical health and finances. His sisters suggested that he was suffering from depression and should seek help. I loved his response. He said, “I’m not depressed. I’m grieving the loss of the things in life that I once had.”
I believe in our culture and in our faith, we sometimes short change the grieving process. Yet the Bible says that all of creation is groaning and travailing in pain. (Romans 8:22-23) And the Bible encourages us to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice” but also “to weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15)
At the same time, the Bible tells us that it is God’s will to give thanks in every circumstance. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I don’t think we are to give thanks for tragedy and suffering, but instead find things that are worthy of thanksgiving even in the midst of our pain and suffering. No matter how bad life gets, we can always find something to rejoice over and give thanks to God.
Friends, at times in life we do need to cry, grieve and mourn. And at other times we need to rejoice, laugh and be merry. All around the world people are dying and in the same moment babies are just being born. People are happily joining together in the covenant of marriage while others are suffering through the pain of divorce and separation.
Life is bittersweet.
The challenge I believe is to keep these two aspects in perspective and to not be caught on the rollercoaster of life’s circumstances and trials. If you’re going through a tough season in life, consider some things that are going well for you and give God thanks. If you’re experiencing a happy time in life, take it upon yourself to find and help someone who is struggling. And most of all remember, that in the end of life, God will work everything out for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.