Editor’s note: Country Music artist and podcaster Granger Smith lays a path through grief in his book Like a River. Granger and his wife, Amber lost their son, River, to drowning in 2019 and in his book he shares the bereavement and faith journey he went through with Jesus. Enjoy this excerpt:
Living with struggles today gives us another reason to worship God.
Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ — John 7:38
Red, purple, blue, orange, and gold streaked across a canvas sky like a marvelous painting as the creaky chains of the porch swing gently rocked back and forth. London and Lincoln giggled and danced barefoot on the green lawn as Amber sat cross-legged on the steps. As I kept up the rhythm of the sway with my foot, baby Mav slept nuzzled in the bend of my elbow.
Soak in this moment because it won’t last forever.
I’ve thought that several times in my life, and it was always right, but I had never fully understood what it meant until now. Nothing lasts forever, but that’s exactly what makes life so beautiful, so meaningful. In fact, nothing matters at all until we finally realize that all things are temporary on this earth. When we understand that, we see these things for exactly what they are — small glimpses of the greatest gift: an eternal dwelling in the presence of the river’s Source. If His gifts are so good, and it hurts so much to miss them, what would it be like to meet the Giver of these gifts? I can’t even imagine.
Loss Is a Necessary Part of Life
Consider this. If we never lost any of the gifts of life, how could we really understand how precious they are? How could we possibly know about the brilliance of light if there were no darkness to contrast it?
This is a perspective that I’ve had to learn.
It’s also the contrast presented by the age-old question,
How could a good God allow terrible things to happen?
Look, I get it.
Many things in this world seem unfair, or depressing, or demoralizing, or disturbing, or just plain tragic. By design, we live in a world that desperately needs someone to come rescue it. And someone did — Jesus!
When we dive into the Bible, we see a purposefully strong connection between joy and suffering. We’re going to have problems on this earth. In fact, we’re told it’s not just a possibility, it’s a given.
Take John 16:33, for instance, where Jesus said,
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.
Jesus continued with a resolution for us:
But take heart; I have overcome the world.
Read that last part again. That’s an incredible promise!
When we are finally redeemed from this broken world and join the ranks in Heaven, we will spend the rest of forever, literal eternity, in awe of God for delivering us from all heartache and pain.
Living with struggles today gives us another reason to worship God
— the One who came to take away the sting of those struggles — because we know they are not the final word. And when we do look to Him, we experience joy. That’s how we’re designed.
The men and women we read about in the Bible actually rejoiced in their suffering. Consider Paul, who was beaten and thrown in jail multiple times, or how Mary, the mother of Jesus, responded when she realized she was pregnant — something that would disgrace her in her society. Neither one considered themselves worthy for the task but faced it, looking to God, finding that joy doesn’t come from one’s circumstances but from where one is focused.
So I ask, is it really too hard to believe that difficult times can bring about joy?
Think of your favorite movie.
Now remove the antagonist.
Is it still a good movie? No.
If there were no evil, how would we ever see what is good? It would just be — empty.
I can make an example with my favorite sport. Do you wonder why football players cry tears of joy when they hold up a Super Bowl trophy? It’s because they remember how difficult it was to win and know how temporary it is to possess. Those players endured a challenging season. Maybe there was a terrible loss in game two. Or someone had a season-ending injury in game five. Possibly a locker room dispute in game six. In game eight they might have fought from behind and barely won in overtime. And game ten was lost to a team that they were supposed to beat. I could come up with many examples, but the bottom line is that if a season or football career were perfect with zero adversity and loss, then the trophy ceremony wouldn’t be as sweet.
- The tears of joy come through the pain of suffering.
Loss is not only a part of our lives, it’s also necessary for us to truly understand joy. Trusting that God has a plan for His people allows us to not be surprised when the fiery trial comes but instead to rest in the joy that coexists with the suffering. That’s my view from the porch today.
Excerpted with permission from Like a River by Granger Smith, copyright Granger Smith.
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Living with struggles today gives us another reason to worship God. We know that our sufferings are part of living in a fallen world, but also that He has overcome it. In the meantime, we can praise Him and rest in the joy that comes as well. Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily