Friday, June 12, 2009

Tasting Bitter Before Sweet

Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy. (Ecclesiastes 7:3 NAS)

Bitter Sweet When I was in my early 20s, several crises happened in my life at the same time that left me devastated. A loved one in my family was in critical condition, an affectionate relationship was broken, a discord in the church which led to friendship separations—these and more happened within a short span of time from each other, and came suddenly without any warning. It was like the entire world has turned against me and I was left all alone with no one to turn to for help or share my pain and agony. In that state of despair and desperation, I strayed and walked away from God, but not for long, because I soon realized I could never live a meaningful life without God.

All of us have experienced difficult times in our lives and may continue to experience some now or in the future. It is during such times we should stand firm and not stray away from God, for it is only then we can truly understand the meaning of God is our strength, our guide, and our reliance. Unless we taste the bitter and experience being down and out, the moments of despair and the feeling of being all alone in the world, we seldom look to God and rely on Him. Once we have experienced all these, however, we will be able to appreciate His sweet and perfect peace with complete confidence in the fullness of His sufficiency.

The author of the Book of Ecclesiastes rightly said sorrow is better than laughter, for only when we have tasted the bitter and experienced deep sadness can we truly comprehend the sweetness of true happiness (Ecclesiastes 7:3). Life as we know it in the real world is not all a bed of roses without the thorns; it is frequently mingled with bitter and sweet as long as we are here on earth. Jesus, in illustrating how believers should live their lives said:

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 NAS)

As Christians, there will be times when we will be called to stand for the truth, but there will also be times when we may prefer to hear the sweet rather than the truth, because the truth is often bitter and accompanied by consequences we do not wish to bear. If we see a friend or a colleague being falsely accused for something he did not do by someone trying to cover up for his mistake, will we leave our friend or colleague to stand accused and let the accuser go scot free, or will we defend the righteous? What if by speaking the truth, we risk finding trouble for ourselves or losing our jobs? Will we still dare to stand up for the truth in representing what is right, or will we stand accused of letting down our faith?

If we are willing to taste the bitter, and stand for the truth in facing insults, false accusations and persecutions because of Jesus, we can rejoice and be glad because the Lord has promised us our reward in heaven will be great (Matthew 5:11-12), and we will with certainty get to taste of its sweetness.

Teach us therefore dear Lord to live our lives worthy of Your calling, to stand up for the truth even if it means to risk inconveniences and possible persecutions. Help us be willing Lord to taste that which is bitter for Your name's sake, that we may experience the sweetness of true happiness. Strengthen us Lord and be our guide to see us through difficult times. Lead us in Your ways Lord so that we may not stray away from You, for we know O God it is during such difficult times that we need You the most, because in You alone can we live meaningful lives.

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