Here are two surefire ways to live in unhappiness:
• Dead End Road No. 1: Living in denial that life is what it is.
Most of us make the mistake of thinking life is either lived on the mountaintop or in the valley. It is not. Life is not either/or. It is both/and. Think about it. At the same time, we all have some things going on in our life that are really sweet and some things that are really sour and bitter. They are going on concurrently. Life is not feast or famine. It is both – like two parallel rails on a railroad track.
God created us perfect to live in a perfect world. When Adam and Eve decided to go it alone without depending upon God, the world fell into disorder and chaos. Being created perfect, we all long for the perfection for which God created us. The whole universe feels our frustration and agony right along with us.
“For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” Romans 8:22-24 NLT
When good things happen to you, don’t go thinking you did something to deserve it. And when the bottom drops out, don’t think you did something to tick God off. What happens to us, good or bad, is simply the way life is.
When you are happy, enjoy it because it won’t last forever. When you go through difficult times, understand that life on this planet is what it is and remember it, too, won’t last forever. Just live in the moment relying on Jesus, and don’t waste time worrying about what happened in the past because it is done and gone. Don’t waste time worrying about the future because it’s not here yet and you can’t get your hands on it to do anything about it.
Life in this world is what it is. Keep trusting Jesus. He will see you through.
• Dead End Road No. 2: Misplaced hope.
Barbara Johnson says “Life is so much better now that I have given up hope.” She’s right, you know. Life will be better for you when you give up hope that anything or anybody is going to save you, or help you, other than Jesus. When we get sidetracked down Road No. 1, it is easy to start grabbing for anything and anybody that gives us a glimmer of hope. When those hopes are dashed, we are driven to the place where we realize Jesus is our one and only hope.
The psalmist came to the end of Road No. 1 and came to this conclusion: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God!” Psalm 42:5-6 NLT
“Wait calmly for God alone, my soul, because my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my savior – my stronghold. I cannot be shaken. My salvation and my glory depend on God. God is the rock of my strength, my refuge. Trust Him at all times, you people. Pour out your hearts in His presence. God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:5-8 GWT
Life is a journey. No one makes it through without turning down a wrong road or two. Don’t get discouraged. When asked if he ever got discouraged when his endeavor to make the light bulb met with thousands of dead end roads, Thomas Edison said this: “Oh, they are not failures. I’ve just discovered 10,000 ways it won’t work.”
Don’t beat yourself up when you come to the end of another dead end road. God always allows U-turns. “Recalculating!”
Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey in Lake Wylie.