I have reflected on, struggled with, and at times tried to write about the need to know if a particular event is a plus or minus for my life in the context of time. Each time I think I have reached a conclusion on what type of indicators might exist, I find myself caught by surprise. Candidly, at this point in my life I have no idea of how to determine if a particular event is beneficial or difficult, positive or negative, helpful or painful. Even in the context of the world current financial crisis, wars without end or solutions, and untold human suffering, it is hard to come up with concrete, consistent measures.
In the absence of a single standard or measure, let me suggest the following.
No matter how difficult something is in your life or mine, there are others facing an even greater struggle. You can pick any pain, struggle, or uncertainty and no matter how extreme it or they might be, someone is facing something even more difficult, evil, or precarious.
Embedded in every dark event of our lives is an opportunity to learn, grow, and make a difference to those around us. The fact that evil surrounds every community, haunts each journey should be evident to all. This reality should not deter anyone from seriously living to the maximum. What matters is our response to the moment at hand; nothing else is important.
What is going around us matters; however, external forces do not control the freedom we hold. Evil is always active. While Saul was responding to God, “some Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul got wind of it.” (Acts 9.23) Saul acted and escaped. Then he continued on his mission. In times of chaos, events out of our control, and conflicts that are not ours, we can take note, learn what we can, and move on with our mission.
Life is full of surprises. Six months ago, I could not imagine today's reality. I find that not knowing is actually ok. What matters is my response, and yours.
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