Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bang–ups and Hang-Ups

Im sorry to say so
But, sadly its true
That bang-ups and hang-ups
Will happen to you.
—Dr. Seuss

I’m not a bird-watcher as such, but I like to watch birds at song and play and some years ago I built a sanctuary in our backyard to attract them. I put in bird feeders, birdbaths and places to nest and for several months I enjoyed the sight of our feathered friends feeding and flitting about…
…until this fellow showed up—a young Cooper’s Hawk that made my bird refuge his private hunting reserve.

Ah, such is life: Our safe places are seldom safe. Just about the time we think we’re past the hard stuff of life and settle down to take our ease, something or someone comes along to disrupt our cozy nest. Fractious families, financial losses, health problems, the frets of old age and a host of other predations assail us. And as an older, wiser saint once warned me, “Sometimes the harder tests are farther along.”

Having lived for a while, I must agree. Life is hard and sometimes gets harder. Any other outlook is ingenuous. Why, we ask, must so much of life be a vale of tears?

I think I’ve heard most of the answers to that old question, but lately I’m satisfied with just one: “All the discipline of the world is to make men children that God may be revealed to them” (George MacDonald, Life Essential). Sadness comes that we may become little children, resting in the love of our Father in heaven, seeking to know and to do his will and to be like him.

And we have this assurance: In a little while sorrow and sadness will come to an end; the path of sorrow will have led us to a land where sorrow is unknown. There, God “will wipe every tear from (our) eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain...” (Revelation 2:4).

English poet George Herbert put it all together in a poem describing a dream in which he saw a globe of the earth, “On whose meridian was engraven, ‘These seas are tears, and heaven the haven.’”[1]

Can we not rejoice in sorrow with such an end in view?

David Roper

[1] “The Size” (1633)

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