"You are the salt of the earth…. You are the light of the world." Matthew 5:13-14
Our bad experiences in life often become our best teachers. While we enjoy the good times and look back on them fondly, most of the pivotal points in our lives are born out of difficult experiences. King Solomon's life is a prime example. He compiled a portion of the book of Proverbs from many of his experiences, both good and bad. It is full of down to earth wisdom; heavenly in its origin, but earthly in its application.
Hard experiences happen to all of us. It is part of the journey we call life, and while God blessed Solomon with the gift of wisdom, there were periods of his life when he lived foolishly. His lust for women had been his downfall. Influenced by his many pagan wives and concubines, he began worshipping heathen gods and fell away from the God of his youth.
Both good and bad experiences lie at the source of Solomon's wisdom. In his old age, he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, which tells of a life lived with God and a life lived without God, both of which he had experienced. He arrives at the conclusion that life is meaningless, utterly meaningless when lived apart from our Creator. Before we are tempted to stray away from God, he wisely tells us, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Solomon lives and learns hard lessons through wisdom and folly, victory and defeat, and he comes to the profound conclusion: “Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the duty of mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Regardless of how bereft or empty our choices have left us, God will always provide a way back to Him. Sometimes He will allow us to reach the end of our rope, so that we come to realize our utter dependence on Him. In John 17:3, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the life," and we can never reach a point where that is not true for us. A valuable lesson Solomon gives in Ecclesiastes is not to waste our mistakes. God has much to teach us through difficulties, disobedience and failure, from which we emerge wiser and stronger when our faith and dependence are placed in Him.
While we naturally prefer the good times, the reality is that spiritual growth often happens best in the hard times. It is here we meet with God in a much deeper, intimate way that enriches our relationship with Him and equips us for any hardship. In retrospect, we will discover that we grow far more spiritually out of our tears than we do when the sun is shining and the sky is blue.