Living in this world can be likened to the two sides of a coin. We are faced with either side of the coin from time to time. Someone said: “The opposites are in conflict and we are right in the middle.” Understanding the twofold status of life and learning the adaptation techniques are fundamental to a life of fulfillment. Let’s take a look at some of the situations we face: Life and death; positivity and negativity; joy and sadness; health and sickness; wealth and poverty; good and bad; success and failure; light and darkness; we can go on and on.
So long as we are alive, we would experience both sides of the divide, our aversion to some of them notwithstanding. To think that we can continue to enjoy the good without tasting the bad is naïve. As a matter of fact, inherent in what we consider good is an element of the bad, and vice versa. For instance, long life, which we all pray for, is a good thing. However, if you live long enough, you will likely experience the pain of losing a loved one.
I faced the dark side of life on Sunday, June 03, 2012 when I lost my five friends and colleagues to the Dana Air plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria. Seven of us were on a project that had taken us to Port Harcourt and Lagos. We had travelled together to Abuja on June 01, 2012 for the concluding part of the project. We finished the project and prepared our report on Saturday, June 02, 2012. On Sunday, June 03, 2012, one of the team members and I went to see our children in school (it was their visiting day) having scheduled our flight back to Lagos for 7.26pm same day on Dana Air. Our friends boarded the 2.15pm flight. We were on our way to the Abuja airport at about 5.10pm when my wife called to inform me that a Dana Air plane had crashed into a residential area in Lagos. That was how we lost our friends and colleagues. I still find it hard to believe that some of the finest people I’ve known in my circa four decades of existence are no more.
Faced with the dilemma of a binary world, how do we make the best use of our time here? The first secret is knowledge; we need to know that there will be good times and bad times. Interestingly, the Scriptures didn’t promise us a life of ease. Listen to these verses of Scripture: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33); “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5); “To him that overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7). The earlier we come to terms with the demands of the above scriptures, the better we are able to cope with the contrary winds of life.
The second secret, which actually precedes the first, is learning. Knowledge is acquired through learning. In Philippians 4:12, Apostle Paul gave an exposition of this secret. He said: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I believe this mindset enabled him finish his Christian’s race well.
The last secret is to act on what you know. Without acting, whatever claim you have to knowledge is empty. The miracle of successful living is found is in doing something about what you know. Thomas Edison remarked, “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.” The most interesting thing about taking action is that it leads to perfection. It is in acting that you know what works and what doesn’t. A repetition of what works invariably leads to perfection.
We can all handle the good and positive aspects of life. The challenge is dealing with the unpleasant ones. The knowledge, learning and actionable steps we need to adapt to the unpleasant issues of life are found in God’s word and our personal relationship with Him. They all boil down to having the right perspectives on issues we face. Two people were confronted with an ugly situation, at the end one comes out better and the other bitter. The difference is found in their perspective. The word of God gives us the right perspective on issues. David said he almost stumbled through envy when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. His perspective was corrected when he went to God’s sanctuary. There he understood the end of the wicked (Psalm 73).
Still on perspectives, Apostle Paul said: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” What can you do to a man who is not afraid to die? He, in fact, saw dying as gain. Having the right perspective on life issues boils down to having a revelation. Evangelist Bola Odeleke once said: “What we need is revelation not education.” I agree. Globally, we are better educated now than ever in human history; but, in the same vein, human misery indices are at all-time high.
To live a fulfilling life in this binary world, your hope is in the revelation from God’s word and your personal relationship with Him. Anything outside these two amounts to chasing the wind.