The best… or the worst???

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,

it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light,

it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope,

it was the winter of despair…”

So begins Charles Dickens’ epic novel A Tale of Two Cities. Set in London and Paris, the novel chronicles the lives of several characters in the years leading up to and during the French Revolution.

The parallels to our current world/life situations — 163 years after Dickens’ novel was published in 1859 — are striking. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to agree that these past two years have been the best and worst of times. After all, in the midst of the ambiguity, uncertainty, and restrictions that we have grown somewhat accustomed to we HAVE been able to see God at work on our behalf. More than once I personally have reminded myself that God IS in control, that I CAN trust Him with all the unknowns of life. We can even see Light and hope — when incredulity and Darkness don’t drown them out, which, in all honesty, happens to all of us periodically.

There has been despair… and yet the keys to navigating the difficulties of life boil down to

  • knowing the end result
  • asking for wisdom
  • praying in faith

Sounds a bit simplistic, I must admit… but this brings me back again to Dickens: “… it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

Throughout life — daily, moment by moment — we are faced with choices. Do we ask God for wisdom… and then follow through in obedience? Or are we more like the foolish man in Matthew 7:24-27 who builds his house upon the sand, hearing God’s Words but not putting them into practice? When our perspective gets skewed, do we stay stuck in that rut… or do we listen to a brother or sister in Christ who lovingly points out where we may have gotten off track? Are we open to input from others.. or are we using excuses to avoid necessary communication?

“My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and He will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures, but He will overwhelm your failures with His generous grace.”

James 1:2-5 (The Passion Translation)

When we look back on this time in our lives, may it be characterized by being an age of wisdom, not an age of foolishness; a time of growing in our faith, our perseverance, our maturity; a time of recognizing that God graciously, generously gives us the wisdom we need to navigate life’s challenges; a time when God overwhelms our failures with His generous grace.

And that, my friends, is how we can have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life.”

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