Life is hard. Life is a blessing.
Which statement best reflects the way you view things? Recently, my attention has been pulled a lot towards the first sentence, but some recent events have reminded me of the truth of the second.
It is true that life is hard. Most of us don’t just coast along, all of our bills paid, perfect health, and no troubles to mention. We all battle in this life. We battle the clock, we battle our bodies, we battle our bank accounts. We battle our limits.
And then we add more fuel to the fire; we add sin. Sin only intensifies the battle, doesn’t it? Sin makes the battle become with our spouses, with our children, with our co-workers or neighbors. We mess with sin and then battle to keep it from dominating our lives.
When Jesus said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34) most of us give those words a hearty “amen!” because we’ve found that life is hard.
However, two events recently reminded me of what a blessing life is.
The first happened two days ago, as I was feeding our new daughter, Anna. As I held her in one arm and fed her a bottle with my free hand, she reached out and wrapped her tiny fingers -her tiny hand- around my pinkie. There we were, father and daughter, in a special moment of interaction. I was caring for her and she was depending upon me. She was clinging to me and I was providing for her. It was a moment of purpose and joy, a moment that reminded me of what a blessing I was holding in my hands. The moment itself was a blessing. As I learned with Rylie, those moments when they are so small and utterly dependent pass too quickly.
I saw that moment as a gift… a gift from God… a gift a sinner like me doesn’t deserve.
I didn’t deserve the second moment either. It happened last night. I came home to find my other daughter, Rylie, standing on the bathroom stool washing her hands with her mother. The bathroom door was cracked open about 6 inches and through that little opening, Rylie saw me walk in the house. Her eyes lit up, a big smile stretched across her face, and she exclaimed “Mommy, Daddy is home!” She then climbed down from the stool, threw open the door, and ran and jumped (as much as Rylie can) into my arms. You can’t put a price tag on that, believe me!
Both moments, as I said, I didn’t deserve. Why? Because (again, as I said) I’m a sinner. Before you let your mind run wild to imagine what horrible sin I have done or try to send me a note of encouragement to help me with my self-esteem, let me share with you a not-so-secret secret: you’re a horrible sinner too and you wouldn’t deserve these moments either. None of us do.
The Bible makes very clear what we deserve. As sinners, we deserve death (Romans 6:23). As sinners, we deserve judgment (Romans 2:5). As sinners, we deserve hell and punishment and the full wrath of God. Lest you think I’m being overly dramatic, take a moment and read Romans 3:9-18. Because that is what all of us are like, because our sin has infinitely offended an infinitely holy God, we all deserve His immediate and infinite wrath. Anything above that, well, it is a gift from His merciful hand.
Which is why these two moments with my daughters floored me. Those moments were so much better than I deserve! They were rich blessings of mercy flowing down from heaven’s throne upon a wretched sinner like me. And those two moments fixed my attention squarely on that second phrase: Life is a blessing.
Lest we forget, life, even with its trials, is a gift.