Everybody knows that life sometimes sucks. Things don’t go the way we want them to and there are several typical responses to this – annoyance, anger, self-pity or even denial.
Some of these are every-day and short-lived, but sometimes you get something much more significant that lasts a long time and not only that, there never seems to be any way out of it. These could include losing a job; enduring an abusive relationship; prolonged financial hardship or a long-term or serious illness.
The natural mind will look at the circumstances and either bemoan them or, if it’s possible, try to change them. After all, we are unhappy because of what is happening to us. If only we could change our circumstances, then life would be good!
I used to have that attitude, but then I saw that I was letting my environment dictate my life. If things go well and no-one gets in my way or annoys me, then I’ll be happy, but if not, I’m going to be miserable. That put the burden of my personal well-being on everything and everyone else around me. That isn’t maturity and certainly God had a few things to say about it too. He wants us to rely on Him to help us live above what is going on around us.
I have learned (over a period of several years) the following responses to when things happen that I don’t like.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.
This was a big one. My attitude was controlling my mood and not the events and people in my life. Instead God wanted the following:
- Decide not to get upset and wound-up about things, but instead pray that God gives me peace
- I can always find something to be thankful for in the middle of the mess
- Believe and confess that God is working to turn things around. It shows that I trust God. Complaining does the opposite
- Repent of any sin God is pointing out and particularly any bad attitude
- If someone is mistreating me, forgive them
Ask yourself – is this a test?
Is God testing me to see how I will respond? If so, Satan wants me to fail and to give in to how I feel, but God to use it to show me an attitude, a response, a flaw that is in us that we don’t see otherwise.
If I pass my test, I get to move on, but if I FAIL my tests I can be ABSOLUTELY SURE that I will have to take them again… and again… and again….
We all want to be able to have a testimony we can tell people, but if you go through your test with the wrong attitude, you won’t get to the testimony, you’ll just be left with the ‘moanies’ – Joyce Meyer
Abasing and abounding
God doesn’t allow us to suffer 100% of the time, but he doesn’t give us everything our own way either. The key is to be at peace and stable no matter what is going on around us. I pray frequently for God to help me stay peaceful when I feel like getting wound-up.
I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. (Philippians 4:12)
It’s important to note that Paul had to learn how to do this. It didn’t come automatically and it probably was painful and took a while!
But above all…
The most important practice God had me learn, particularly when the trial goes on for a while is for me to ask Him, “God, what do you want to do in me through this? Never mind what is going on around me, what are YOU trying to say to me?”
This opens the way for God’s mercy and provision. He doesn’t deal harshly with us when we approach Him with an attitude of humility.
Don’t let your circumstances ruin your life.