Who is wise? And who knows the meaning of anything?
A person’s wisdom brightens the expression;
it changes the hardness of someone’s face.
As pressure and stress bear down on me,– Psalm 119:143
I find joy in your commands.
A fact we are all well aware of is known as a “truism.” Truisms are statements that are so widely accepted, so obvious or factual to the extent that they don’t require proof; they are self-evident – such as the apple never falls far from the tree, April showers bring May flowers, Monday follows Sunday, and life is difficult.
Yes, that last one! Life really is difficult. It can be challenging, overwhelming, unfair, frustrating, maddening, and more. Right now I know people who are dealing with grief, with loss, with anguish, with pain, with cancer, with chronic health issues, with broken relationships, with work situations that are unreasonable, with backstabbing, and with family dynamics that are nothing short of heartbreaking. And that’s just the past couple of days.
The fact of difficulty is equal-opportunity, ubiquitous, universally true, and as natural an element of the landscape of our living as the air we breathe. Yet we feel obliged to come up with explanations and avoidance strategies and if that doesn’t work then we can always place blame. Oh how we love to place blame!
To Live Victoriously!
Alternatively, we can latch on to another truism that will equip us, not to avoid “life is difficult” but to live victoriously in the presence and in the providence of the Living God. This truism declares that God is Love.
In my Wednesday men’s group this week we continued our study of Ecclesiastes. Among the recurring declarations that rise to the level of a truism for the writer are the following: Life (lived outside of the understanding of God’s providence) is meaningless… and, looking for an explanation is like chasing after the wind.
Now we, as twenty-first-century men committed to following the living way of Jesus, are not consigned to the futility of chasing after the wind. Yes, life is difficult; but also, yes, we can engage all this difficulty from the perspective of living as beloved children of the Living God and we are well equipped to handle it.
I love the way Wayne put it, in one of those moments of spiritual insight that always come along when we are in community. “Rather than chasing after the wind,” he said (and I’m paraphrasing here. badly), “we can turn and face the wind, and allow the wind to lift us up, to carry us…”
Because you see we are equipped with wings like the angels! God does not make our life easy, or convenient, or immune to all the hardship. But, like a seagull riding the thermals above the tempestuous waves, or on a super-buoyant raft careening down a class-five river, you bet we can stay afloat!
“As pressure and stress bear down on me,” wrote the psalmist, “I find joy in your commands.”Ecclesiastes 8:1
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.