Seeing that 2022 is still young, I can be forgiven for looking at it in its newness and thinking thoughts that a new beginning often elicits. The inherited challenges from the old year seem oblivious to our desire for their abatement; it’s as if they’ve come to stay. However, if we think of the dual nature of experience and match our attitude to its reality, we should be able to make peace with the hard places we will encounter this year and achieve a satisfying level of peace and joy in our lives. I’m sure you’re familiar with the truism, there are two sides to every story; now let’s flip this idea in our favor by recognizing that there are two sides to life. This means that the things that happen in our day-to-day experience and even the abstract concepts and ideas we deal with have a duality to them.
Long ago Solomon saw this two-sidedness of things and proclaimed that there’s “a time for everyting under the sun.” He had a neat parallelism that came out of experience and observation, among them “a time to be born and a time to die,” and “a time to mourn and a time to dance.” This duality, he seems to be saying, is all a part of the rhythm of life—heat and cold, light and dark, smooth and rough. So when life becomes shabby and unkempt, even ugly, we can remember that it has its beautiful other side where the rips and cracks and notches are smoothed over. Oftentimes, we rush down our accustomed path, seeing only one side of life. In this still-young year, we have time to adjust our thinking to embrace the satisfying outlook that life has a rhythmic, dual pattern.
Some people might see Pollyana lurking behind this kind of reasoning, but have you ever looked incredulously at the reaction of people who stand in the midst of the rubble left by a tornado—such as the one that occurred several weeks ago in Kentucky— and heard them say: “Well, we have our life. We can replace things, but we can’t replace people”? It may be that these are people of faith, but that kind of attitude also shows that they are realists who understand life and can detect its duality. There is good on the flipside of the bad, they’re telling us.
You may remember a song that was very popular in the seventies (I know, you don’t go that far back, but I sang it with abandon): “Raindrops keep falling on my head/but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red/Crying’s not for me.” Some people complain and lay blame—even “charge God foolishly” (Job1:22)— instead of realizing the duality and matching their attitude to it. When there’s sunshine, enjoy it and be glad. When there’s rain, recognize it and plan how to stay dry–maybe even buy a big umbrella. A couple lines from a well-known gospel song make my point succinctly: “I thank God for the mountains/And I thank Him for the valleys.” If you know this song, go ahead and sing it all the way through and savor its spot-on assertion about how we can see life’s duality and thrive. And think about what Job said to his discouraged wife when she told him to “curse God and die” because a series of shocking events had turned their lives upside-down and left the family destitute: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). Job could talk like that because he was living with his eyes wide open to the reality of life’s two-sidedness. I read an anonymous quotation recently that says, “It never hurts your eyesight to look on the bright side of life.” We are wonderfully compensated when we see beyond the dark.
This year will be good to us if we live each day with the understanding that life has a dual nature and match our attitude to that reality.
“Everyone wants to live really long, but nobody wants to grow old.”
Dr. Erwin Lutzer