Struggles—good or bad?
by MARCIA HUFSTADER
Third Church of Christ, Scientist
One answer to the question “Good or bad?” could be: It’s all in how you handle it.
While mowing the lawn the other day, I found myself singing a song I danced to when I was six years old. Part of the lyrics go like this: “Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May; and if it’s raining, have no regrets; because, it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining violets.”
Analogies can only be taken so far, but this made me think about how we interpret our experiences, our struggles. In this song the rain could symbolize our challenges and struggles. Sometimes struggles get the better of us, especially ones that have gone on and on. We might find ourselves focusing on the struggles and how to get out of them, how to manage them, or how to avoid them. In the midst of it all, maybe we need to look for the blessings instead of the pain, the flowers instead of the rain.
Just knowing that there is a good side to every challenge or struggle can be helpful and hopeful; it can give us a reason to go on and proceed with even an ounce of joy. That ounce of joy does wonders. Maybe that’s the type of leaven that Paul refers to in the Bible (Galatians 5:9): “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Sometimes all that’s needed is to add even one little part of joy, hope, forgiveness or perspective to our thinking process so that we can start seeing that the situation isn’t as bad as we thought.
I read and study another book along with the Bible, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy. I have found comfort and assurance in its pages as I have faced challenges and struggles. One of the statements I have found helpful is, “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.” This is especially assuring when we think of another statement from the Bible (1John 4:16), “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
Looking back on struggles I’ve had, I tend to see them as new starting points or experiences that really made me grow as a person. They stretched me and at that same time enhanced how I faced the next challenge. Many times the lessons learned have enabled me to help others through their challenges, something I couldn’t have done as well without learning the lesson first. It may sound funny, but sometimes it has been helpful for me to live the challenge in retrospect. In other words, in the middle of a challenge I try to see how I’ll look back on the experience and try to see the good things this is bringing into my life.
In the song I began with, joy came by realizing that the rain is actually bringing violets. So don’t try to cover yourself from the rain, but be purified and nourished by it.