“We can never know or appreciate real peace until we first experience the hardest battles”.

   The only true way to appreciate anything is to have a contrasting (strikingly different) view about it. The prodigal son didn’t appreciate his father until he was stripped down to nothing and it was only then that he saw what he had all along. Which was an abundant life and a loving, caring, father that withheld nothing from him, but gave him his all. The son came to give honor and have more gratitude because he lived a contrasted life to experience what being blessed was all about. He had to go without. Had to extinguish his selfishness and greed to gain a deeper love and appreciation.

   There were times in mine and my wife’s personal lives to where we had no place to call home. We had somewhere to stay but it wasn’t ours, just a temporary dwelling. I remember getting so sad, almost to the point of tears and heartbreak just to walk into the home sections of stores. The dishes, towels, wall furnishings, little knick-knacks… use to make me long for a place of our own. So I avoided those places because of the emotions I would go through in them. 

   Years later we are now in a house we can call home which God worked out for us to get. (Praise be to Him!) We’ve been here for 3 years and I still find myself looking at the yard, the house, the neighborhood… and instead of a longing there has been a gaining, an accumulation of gratitude, and I get overwhelmed with humble tears of joy. I believe if it wasn’t for the contrasting views of a dwelling place, I wouldn’t be in such awe of God’s goodness and provision, knowing even more that we have an interactive God.

   Our God is definitely a contrasting God. He gives us night so we can better enjoy day. Gives us Fall so we can better see Spring. Let’s us go through dark valleys to better enjoy the view on the mountaintops. He allows heartbreak so we can better treasure love. Allows so-called friends to use and abuse us so we can appreciate true friends more. Let’s us go through the dry, parched, spiritual times so we can experience the times of refreshing and grow stronger; and then really value with high regard His Spirit dwelling in us. He allows us to live in the darkest of sin to fully grasp what salvation really is.

   I believe to clean our spiritual glasses we first have to hold them up to a contrasting background to see the dust and smudges that otherwise can’t be seen. Then we can see things much better and appreciate the clearer vision. When we find ourselves wanting to grumble and complain, let’s hold our situation up to His light so that we can see the contrast. So we can change our thinking. I pray that we won’t ever have to go through a prodigal experience to get to know Jesus for who is is, was, and will be in our lives. But if that’s what it takes…

Blessings!
Elder Steve Smith

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