Brutal, the roads these days are brutal. Try taking Ten Mile East from Kelly, and then getting on eastbound I-94! Or, take a drive down I-696 ... you pick your stretch. I am sure there are many other 'favorite places' to be thought of. It is pothole season, and the roads are brutal. The roads may be brutal, but remember, "when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3.4-5)
Brutal, the weather this winter has been brutal. Bitter cold temperatures followed by 9 straight days of snowfall. The snow-piles on the corners in our neighborhood are huge - and difficult to see around. The temperatures tease us one day with a little warmth, and then plummet back down to frigid ... and all the tease seems to do is thin our blood and nurture the germs. The weather this winter has been brutal, but "when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, ... (the Holy Spirit was) poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3.4, 6-7)
Brutal, life in our world is brutal. "17 DIE IN RAMPAGE" is the headline of today's Free Press. Other pages speak of international hostilities, police killings, and party politics. And the horrendous accounts of sexual assaults and abuse seen to be never-ending. Brutal, life in our world is brutal, but "the Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works." (Psalm 145.13)
Brutal, cancer, and its treatment, is brutal. The word itself can make the brave tremble and weaken the knees of a strongman. It comes out of nowhere, and then then sneaks into anywhere and everywhere. And, say what they want about all the progress being made in treatments and the search for a cure, few people look forward to the surgeries, radiation or chemotherapy prescribed. Brutal, cancer and its treatment are brutal, but "great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. ... the Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made." (Psalm 145.3, 9)
Brutal, the aging process is brutal. The little hair that I have left is gray around the edges ... unless, of course, it chooses to grow in those places where it's only a nuisance. The aches and pains increase, and twenty minute tasks become two hour ones. We have to sit down to rest, and then have a hard time getting back up. Your mind keeps going when your body stops ... unless, of course, it is the other way around. Brutal, the aging process is brutal, but God, who is love, "is patient and kind; he does out envy or boast; he is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on his own way; he is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.. He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. He never ends." (1 Corinthians 15.4-8)
Calm ... civilized ...compassionate ... courteous ... friendly ... gentle ... generous ... humane ... tender. All of these words are listed as antonyms for brutal ... and all have been used regularly to describe our God in Christ Jesus ... who as he "richly pours out on us the Holy Spirit" is at work transforming us from the barbaric, boorish, coarse and vulgar brutes we are by nature ... into his calm, compassionate, friendly, generous and tender likeness.
Brutal, the world is brutal. And the only true antidote is God and his mercy in Christ Jesus. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12.1-2)
I don't know about you, but those words give me all I need to jump into the opportunities to make a difference that this day will offer.