As the sage Midwestern philosopher Ferris Bueller once observed, 'Life moves pretty fast.'
School, military service, careers, marriage, children, graduate education, moving to different places. These mark our chapters, dividing neatly the story of our lives.
Misfortunes, too, mark us, sometimes literally. Illnesses, injuries, the loss of loved ones, unemployment, divorce, family estrangement, addiction - these come along as well, the combination leaving many shell-shocked and struggling to cope.
We have a wide range of coping options. Many are good - prayer, creativity, volunteer work, friendship, family life and many more. These options provide hope through support, distraction, love, meaning and purpose.
Others are destructive - drug and alcohol abuse, meaningless sex, violent behavior - immersion in a variety of thoughts and actions that damage the heart, soul and mind.
The Lord made all of us, regardless of who we are, what we do or how we think. We have to realize that people we think of as 'bad' are more like us than we care to admit.
Contrary to worldly belief, there are no 'bad people.' Each and every one of us, without exception, was created and placed here by God. Each and every one of us is loved by God, as His children, without exception.
What separates us from God - and unites us to everyone else, whether we like it or not, is sin. We all have sins, whether we acknowledge them or not. We all do wrong, whether we think so or not. This isn't an opinion or a judgement, just a fact. Flaws are part of our human nature.
We can get into trouble when we compare our sins to those of other people. Like the Pharisee in Jesus's parable (Luke 18:9-14), we act like, 'Yeah, maybe I have some sins, but look at that guy over there. He is way worse!' Sorry, Pharisee, you're just as bad.
AND, you're just as good! Just as you shouldn't feel superior, neither should you feel insufficient in comparison or in any other way. The Creator of the Universe created you, and that makes you a blessed person, a beloved child of God.
The thing is, God doesn't compare us, or our sins. He loves all of us, and He hates all sin. He makes a clear distinction between our sinful nature, which is from the devil, and our selves, which He created in His image. We are not perfect, therefore, but we are perfectible. And He is working on us all the time forming and refining and growing and testing. He finishes what He starts, and His craftsmanship is utterly flawless.
Lord, thank you for creating me in your image. Despite evils and temptations and sins, thank you for giving me a chance, through Your son, Jesus Christ, to apologize and to be forgiven unconditionally. Moreover, You give me a chance to grow better and stronger, through all my experiences, even that difficult ones. I am grateful that You are always with me, helping me, refining me and preparing me for an eternal life in heaven with You.
In Jesus's name I pray, AMEN!
God bless you!