I’m addicted to the song “A-team” by Ed Sheeran. Apparently he wrote it about a girl he met at a homeless shelter. They called her Angel. (Hence the double meaning in this gorgeous line: “It’s too cold outside for angels to fly,” which is so brilliant I wish I’d written it. But I’m not that good.)
My favorite line in the song is this one: “The worst things in life come free to us.” I’ve tried to pinpoint why the line gets me every time, why part of me
screams, “Yes! That’s so true!” and another part says, “No! It’s so false!”
And of course, whenever I feel schizophrenic, I have to dive into the issue. I’ll start by picking the phrase apart.
I take “worse” to mean “hard to bear” and in the end, “destructive.”
I take “free” to mean “given without a payment” and in the end, “unearned.”
Well, I’ve noticed that kids who are just handed things in childhood do not fare well in adulthood. They assume the entire world revolves around them and that their wish is everyone’s command. This is not reality. And so I nod and agree, “The worst things in life come free to us.”
I’ve noticed that when people are forced to struggle for or wrestle through something, we appreciate it far more. This can be anything, from financial stabilityto personal relationships to a promising career. If we don’t fight for it, or sacrifice to obtain it, or wait patiently for it, we end up taking it for granted. And so I nod and agree, “The worst things in life come free to us.”
And yet I’ve noticed that what is “unearned” is what makes life worthwhile. Forgiveness from my husband. A lifelong best friendship. Incredible parents. Laughter
in a living room. Beautiful weather. A nightingale’s song from the tree outside the window. A sunset over the glistening Pacific Ocean. And far better than all of those things combined, my salvation and adoption in Jesus Christ. And so I shake my head and
say, “No! The best things in life come free to us!”
But perhaps the reason Ed Sheeran’s line gets me is because reality falls somewhere in the middle.
Romans 8:17a: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
This co-heirship with Christ is the “free” part, the part that is not earned. It is far from the “worst” thing in life. Indeed, it is the best thing I will ever receive. Ever!
But the next line of this verse reminds us, “…if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that
we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17b
Now we’re talking about the worst things in life – the sufferings of Christ. And those who are given the best thing are called to share in them. So in the end, the worst and the best go hand in hand.
I forget this far too often.
I think I’m not supposed to suffer. And I’m shocked when I or friends and family do. Because I’m an idiot. As a co-worker reminded me of late, “The Bible promises that we will suffer.” And anything the Bible promises will happen.
So in the end, Ed Sheeran’s line speaks some truth. But not all of it. Here’s my take on what is missing:
The Best Thing in life comes free to us.
But there was a cost, an incredible cost to what He freely gives.
He suffered the worst things, and we will too.
But the Best Thing will steady us through it all.
And one day, the worst things will be no more.
They will cower in the face of the Best Thing.
And and all those who call Him “The Best” will rejoice.