Life magazine used to have some amazing pictures. The spreads would depict everyday life in such a positive way. Families were nestled around the dinner table, couples looked longingly into each other’s eyes and grandparents showed their delight as they pushed the kids in brightly colored swings.
Unfortunately, life just isn’t like that all the time. To quote an unknown speaker, “Motherhood ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. War is hell. Lassie didn’t always come home. And the French countryside isn’t always set against the clear blue sky spotted with multicolored balloonists.”
In spite of our personal preferences, the Christian life includes the good, the bad and the ugly.
There is an interesting parallel to the way we learn mathematics. In school we learned addition first. It was fun. Two fingers plus two fingers almost equaled my whole hand. Then came subtraction. But that wasn’t nearly as much fun. Suddenly we might have fewer blocks or less crayons or less recess.
But it wasn’t until we conquered all those concepts (the adding and the subtracting) that we got to learn about multiplication.
As believers, we love to add up all the blessings. We love to intensify the positive experiences, we love to rehearse all the joys and give testimonies about the blessings.
But the subtractions (health difficulties, kids gone amok, financial struggles) are tough to take. We want to avoid them at all costs.
Of course, the problem is if we do not embrace the additions and the subtractions, we never seem to progress in our walk.
Ultimately, God intended us to multiply. He sent us out with the gospel to share. We are called to entrust the gospel “…to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (II Tim. 2:2)
There is supposed to be a multiplication process that takes place in our lives. The Lord takes the blessed fun parts and the very difficult parts and uses them all to compound our impact in the world around us.
So this week might be a great time to review your mathematics. Take some time to add up all the blessings. Give the Lord the praise due His name. But also take some time to note the value of some blessed “subtractions.” Some of those painful experiences help make us more useful for the Master. People tend to look very closely at our lives when we are in crisis.
Ultimately, we want to see the impact of our lives multiply!