All parts of bittersweet are reported to be poisonous, but songbirds, ruffed grouse, pheasant, and fox squirrel eat the fruits. The Menominee, Ojibwa, and Potawatami tribes of North American Indians have used the inner bark as an emergency food. (USDA.gov)
On my way home from work yesterday I had an "aha" moment. Life is bittersweet! Now . . . I certainly I have known this, but yesterday, this truth/ knowledge became larger than me - remember "it's all about me." As I was closing down my computer at the end of the day, I saw a short story about Delanie Walker (a San Francisco 49ers football player) flash up on the screen. His aunt and uncle were at the Superbowl to see him play, and on their way home they were killed by a drunk driver.
Just take a minute with that.
Walker had just celebrated what was certainly the crowning achievement of his career (even though his team didn't win)! And every day for the rest of his life, that day will be "mingled with pain." That's when I had my revelation: That's life! I don't say that to be negative, to complain, to express a "woe is me" mindset. I've lived a lot of years with that attitude, though! I've raised my eyes to heaven and asked God with great exasperation, "Why, God? Why?"
Wow! How small-minded and self-involved of me! Am I alone in this? There are a lot of really great things going on in my life right now! And there are some really hard things--really hard. On good days, I "grin and bear it" and on the not so good days, when I'm tired or stressed, I walk around in kind of a funk. I admittedly feel sorry for myself: God has given me so many burdens to bear. Why can't I just have the "good stuff" without the pain, sadness, struggle! Just once. Just. Once.
I wonder if Delanie Walker experienced that? Do you? But you see, that is just life It's not perfect or easy or simple. God isn't mad at us or punishing us. It's just life. That's not reason to curl up in a ball in the corner or crawl into a hole and hide out from the hard stuff. Not at all. Rather we must focus on the joy--the good stuff. That doesn't mean we ignore the pain or grief or struggle. It means we push on through it because we know that life also offers us tremendous joy.
Paul exhorts us to "Regoice in the Lord always."
"[ Final Exhortations ] Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:4-9 NIV).
You see, we have every reason to rejoice, even in the midst of our hardships! We know the ultimate outcome of our existence! We will be in heaven one day! And that is all we really need to know.
Blessings on your journey,