You’ve heard the phrase “sadder but wiser,” haven’t you? Has a lot of your life wisdom come through pain? That memorable phrase comes from a mostly forgotten poem: “Answer to a Child’s Question” by the English writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
"He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn."
Coleridge put his finger squarely on one of life’s iron rules: there are generally only two ways to learn--through words or through pain. God has certainly gotten a lot done in my own life through pain, and you can probably say the same. It’s painful to say your good-byes to friends and family as you pack for a deployment. The experience of serving your country overseas--and sometimes seeing firsthand man’s inhumanity to man--may teach you important lessons about life while turning your stomach at the same time. But recognize that God has an even better way for us to learn life wisdom, a way that continually draws us closer to him no matter how far from family or church we might be. Because of his great love for us, he would much rather make us wiser through words. In this way we wouldn’t be sadder but wiser; we would be wiser and happier.
The Bible’s book of Proverbs is an absolute gold mine of wisdom for the daily decisions you must make. It will help you develop your personal values and tune your life’s agenda more closely to resemble God’s. It will help shape your attitude toward the situations you will encounter. It will even give you perspective on all the people, places, and things you’ve left behind and miss so dearly. Your deployment and your life will inevitably be happier.
Here is a “proverbial” nugget for each day of your month. Ready? Let’s go!
--Pastor Mark Jeske