It seems to me that each and every person will experience both goodness and strife in their life. I picture a set of scales, the kind used in statues of Lady Justice. She holds a balance scale where a movable beam has receptacles suspended from either side, and when equal amounts of weight is placed in each receptacle the scales will be perfectly balanced. I picture one side of the scale representing goodness and the other side representing strife. In many of our lives it may seem that our balance scale has a tendency to tip over to one side more often than the other side. Some people seem to float through life with their balance scale tipped towards the goodness side, while others seem to have their scale be continually prone to be stuck in the strife side of life.
Now I don’t personally know anyone that ever truly wants to face strife, but I am convinced that each of us will have strife in our lives. I think that in those times of goodness and those times of strife, our outlook on things will fluctuate. We are certainly happier during those good times, and we usually worry or are anxious during times of strife. And, that of course will effect how we interact with others. Have you noticed a distinct difference between behaviors in your friends or loved ones during each types of those times? As for me, when I am happy and going through times of goodness, I tend to laugh and smile more. I may be more outgoing and more animated. But during times of strife, I tend to withdraw into myself, I get introspective, and usually am more quiet. Maybe I am an anomaly.
I think that our interactions with God will also change during those times of goodness and strife. In times of happiness, it’s easy to believe that God is there with us. On the other hand, I also think that when things are going so well, we have a tendency to forget to thank God, and we may have a tendency to think that we’ve achieved all this goodness by our own effort. Things are going well and we’ve relegated God to the back burner.
In time of strife, we tend to cry out to God, to try to move closer to understand the reasons why we are experiencing strife. We may question God, and even get angry with God. In times of strife it becomes easy to think that God has abandoned us. We may lose hope, we may lose sleep, we may not be able to function well at all. Our strife consumes us, our outlook is bleak and we feel like we’ve been stuck in a dark maze that has so many twists and turns that we fear we may never emerge into the light.
In retrospect I see that although I prefer the times of goodness and happiness, it is through the times of strife that I have seen the greatest growth in my character and faith. Those situations have shaped me into a better person, I’ve learned lessons through them. I gain new understanding about myself, about God, and about God’s goodness. I believe that God uses times of strife to lead us into another direction, to expand our faith, and to mold us into the person He would have us become. He whittles away the imperfections and shapes us to reflect His image more.
As I look over my life, I can see God’s hand in so many places. In times of happiness, God is there. In times of sorrow, God is there. In times of calamities, God is there. In times of disappointments, God is there. In times of celebrations, God is there. In times of hardship, God is there. God moves with us through every area of our lives.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, ESV)