I’ve always loved the spring. There’s something about all of creation shaking off the sleepy and frozen fog of winter to emerge into warmth and new beginnings. Outdoor activities are possible again—golf, frisbee, and picnics are back on the table, and sunny days at the lake are just around the corner.
Life, once grey, hidden, and seemingly gone forever, suddenly bursts forth into brilliant shades of green and blue. And, unfortunately, yellow.
I’m not talking about the warm, golden sun. I’m talking, of course, about pollen. Here in the South, every spring brings with it an onslaught of bright yellow pollen. Every southerner hates it. And Coldplay wrote a song about it (“It was all yellow”). It coats our vehicles, clogs our sinuses, and jumps on our clothes and into our airways as soon as we walk outside. It’s a pain. It’s a nuisance.
And it’s the stuff of life.
Pollen is a major source of irritation for some. For others, it can make the spring season downright miserable. Yellow-dusted cars and clothes are a real thing. Severe allergies are a real thing. It’s enough to make us wish nature had another way. But pollen serves a purpose. After the wind carries it wherever it goes, it provides new plant life and makes our world more beautiful.
It’s the stuff of life.
The stuff of life is a mixed bag of pain and joy, ugliness and beauty, frustration, and fulfillment. The stuff of life provides context without which we would never fully understand the goodness of God. Without pain, there would be no appreciation, maybe even no possibility, for beauty.
Seneca said, “No man [person] is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself.” It’s our suffering, our difficulties, our pain that allow us to grow stronger, to appreciate what is beautiful and real and true and to see God move amid our struggles.
Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” He also reminds us that life in the Spirit is like the wind blowing—it does what it wants to do, and we can never tell where it comes from or where it is going. Trouble is a part of our human experience. And life with God doesn’t often provide easy answers. God is mysterious and unpredictable. We never know how and when He’s going to show up.
Trouble, mystery, and unpredictability are the stuff of life. And even though we can’t predict what God will do, we can rest in the peace of knowing He’s got us, He’s for us, and He loves us. Whatever we’re facing, He’s already overcome it and He will not leave us.
Faith, hope, and love are also the stuff of life. Sometimes, it just comes down to our perspective and what we decide to focus on: no matter how good things are, there’s always something to be upset about. No matter how bad things are, there’s always something to celebrate.
It’s all in how we choose to look at the stuff of life.