Chaos and peace. Evil and good. Tragedy and joy. Disaster and success. Despair and hope. Horror and delight. Sorrow and rejoicing. Ugliness and beauty. Suffering and pleasure. Such is life. All at the same time.

Life seems to be falling apart! More demands on your time than you can handle, and then even more is demanded. When you think there is nothing else that could possibly go wrong something else goes wrong. Bills are piling up. Tensions are high. At the same time, a phone call calms your spirit. A sermon touches your heart. A chapter in a book or an article seems to have been written with you in mind. The Bible passage you had read hundreds of times, suddenly and even strangely makes good sense. In the midst of chaos, there is peace.

Life is going great! The family is healthy. Work is good. Your golf game is better than ever. Your boss complimented you on your work. You child got all A's. Both cars are running well. Your mail includes a rebate you had forgotten about. At the same time there's an accident. A phone call in the early morning hours. You are dazed. In the midst of peace, there is chaos.

In the midst of evil, there is goodness.
Your ministry is going great! The church is growing. Souls are being saved. Lives are being changed. You know God is doing it and you are delighted to give Him all the glory. You are just enjoying being along for the ride. At the same time, beneath your vision, evil is lurking waiting for the right time to attack. Temptation is stronger than ever and you are feeling weaker than ever. Guilt, fear, negativity, anger, and resentment are eating at you. In the midst of goodness, there is evil.

Your ministry is in the pits! Your spiritual life is dry and empty. You are questioning your call. It's been so long since you felt like you were actually helping anyone that you are now considering leaving your post. You are discouraged and frustrated and tired. At the same time an email arrives thanking you for a kindness you showed someone. A phone call from a friend lifts your spirits. At the end of your class one of your students hangs around to say they are getting a lot out of your class and that they appreciate all the time you spend inpreparation. In the midst of evil, there is goodness.

This is life. In the midst of the darkest of hours comes a flickering light to remind you to hang on until morning. In the brightest of days there is a shadow that reminds you to be grateful for the brightness of the day. In the midst of unbearable suffering there is a thought of heaven and a day when all suffering ends. In the midst of indescribable joy there is a song that takes you back to sadder days to remind you that there are those around you in great need.

As Jesus prayed in the garden he was battling Satan's evil temptations at the same time. As He visited the home of a friend who had died, He brought hope of the Resurrection. As He moved among the poor, the oppressed, and the blind, he brought riches, freedom and sight. As He taught his disciples to love, the tempter convinced one to betray him. As He suffered on the cross, He saved us from our sins. As He died, we gained life. We are alive because He died. We have life "to the full" because He became empty. We die to ourselves so that we can live for Him and so that others will follow.

This is life. This is the message of the cross. Perhaps one key to life is to accept this reality — to always be aware of it, and not get so caught up in one that we forget the other is present.

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. (Philippians 4:12-13)