This beautiful world is so full of pain.
As I walk beneath blooming spring trees, feel the soft breeze, and hear birds singing joyfully, I reflect that, in the midst of the sublime beauty of life, we are all struggling to overcome terrible heartache.
Sometimes I feel silly for minding things so much. So many people live in far worse conditions than I do, without political, civil, or basic human rights. I am rich compared to so much of this world. I am healthy when people all around me suffer unfathomable physical, psychological, and spiritual pain.
But despite these differences, the truth is that each of us is hurting to one degree or another, and just because it is less obvious does not mean that it affects us any less powerfully.
Thinking about my interactions just yesterday, I am reminded of friends facing uncertainty and the fear of unknown challenges ahead. Friends of mine, both young and old, are dealing with health conditions over which they have little control. My own family is grieving losses of loved ones from death and separation.
And while I recognize the many ways I have been blessed, I still ache for my family, my friends, and the things in my own life which leave me feeling overwhelmed and alone.
These emotions can be forgotten for a moment. We can distract ourselves with work, school, people, activities. But when we stop and blink and breathe, we remember our pain, and even though we seem like we're functioning normally we realize that everything is not actually okay.
So what is the answer? We hope and pray to be delivered. But this life will never be pain-free. In the face of this seemingly futile struggle, what can we do?
The answer, for me, is sometimes less than admirable. I check my email, text messages, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube. I send off a couple quick messages, hoping friends will somehow realize what I'm feeling and offer some encouragement. But even when I obtain momentary pleasure or gratification from these things, the relief remains exactly that: momentary, fleeting, and ultimately unsatisfying.
The only true peace in my life comes from the God of Peace.
As I struggle in my own life and helplessly look on as loved ones struggle in theirs, I sometimes feel I can do nothing else but open my Bible. I don't always find a clear answer or directive for my situation, but I consistently find assurance of who God is, how he loves me, how he has forgiven and redeemed me, how I will be with him in Heaven someday soon.
Here are some verses I have been reading over and over again lately:
"My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins." (Psalm 25:15-18)
"You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways...
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me...
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you...
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!" (Psalm 139:1-17)
Pain and struggles are here to stay, at least for now. But the God of all comfort is also here, offering peace in the midst of life's storms, and also hope for perfect peace in the future.