When Life Brings You Down
By Nicole Boedeker
There are times when I'm cruising through life and everything seems just peachy. Things are good with work, my family and my friends. Life couldn't be better and it's like I'm coasting on automatic, enjoying the scenery. WHAM! Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, life throws me a curveball. My routine gets disrupted, my life gets turned upside down, my emotions are all over the map and my attitude gets just plain rotten. Or when I start to get into a slump because things just aren't going well in my life and I just can't seem to count my blessings. Instead of thinking positive and being thankful for the blessings that I do have, I get negative, bitter, disillusioned and even angry. I always wonder "WHY is this happening to me?" or "How could You (God) let this happen?"
I've learned some valuable, though hard-earned lessons over the past several years and part of it comes down to this: God is trying to get my attention and calling on me to re-set my focus upon Him instead of myself or the world. I've come to realize that when things are going really good I start relying on God less, stop trusting Him for everything; I start to take my life out of His hands.
Many times, for whatever reason, the lessons seem to be ongoing and then I realize that there is a reason for that. I've continually been relying on myself and my focus has been a worldly one instead of a Godly one. My vision becomes myopic and I start seeing things the world's way instead of God's way. It's like I have tunnel vision and can't see anything outside of my current situation or life and God has to keep trying at times to get my attention by using unpleasant method. I don't like it, but then again, neither does God. God doesn't enjoy disciplining His children, just as I really dislike disciplining my little girl. I get no enjoyment out of it, to me it is a distasteful task, but I discipline her because I love her. I do it to teach her what she should be doing and what she shouldn't be doing. I want her to focus on doing the right things; things that will keep her safe and healthy.
In much the same way, God wants me to continually focus on Him and instead, during these times, I'm fighting Him every step of the way because I'm stubborn and in order to break me of that stubbornness and pride, sometimes He has to let me fall, and fall HARD. Just like a spanking teaches my little girl that she should not run into the street or play with sharp objects or be disrespectful, allowing me to fall flat on my face when I'm not walking with God the way I should be, teaches me that I should be relying on God to show me what is right instead of relying on myself to figure that out on my own.
Without God, the world's "right way" is a subjective concept. What may be "right" for one may not be "right" for another and then there are those who feel that nothing is wrong and they can do whatever they want. Those people usually end up doing a life term or ten in some prison on death row while awaiting their date with the executioner. But God's ways are always right. There are no ifs, ands or buts about them. There are no "shades of gray". It is strictly black and white.
I wonder why sometimes it took so long for me to FINALLY realize that I don't need to look anywhere else for my comfort or for my needs to be met. I've been trying to understand why we tend to stray from our relationship with God when things are going good.
The conclusion I have come to is that it is our pride, our ego, and the ability of the Deceiver to plant those little seeds of self-reliance. Instead of "look at the wonderful things God has given to me and how abundantly He has blessed my life" it tends to be more "look at the things I've accomplished, look at how well my family is doing, look at how successful I am. Look at me, Me, ME! It's all about ME! " In those times we forget that it's really about God.
During the smooth times we tend to so easily forget that God gave those blessings to us. It is not anything that we did on our own, yet it is so easy to take God out of the equation, even though we could not have succeeded on our own. Why do we lose sight of that? We have nothing but through the grace of God who gives us what we need. And if we are obedient and faithful, He gives us more than we need. Unfortunately, it is in the easy times, the complacent times that Satan can start to get his hooks into us if we are not careful and on guard. It's easier for us to get Satan's hooks into us than it is to get them out, and the consequences are never pretty. There are always consequences for not obeying God or following His commands. During the easy times, Satan uses cunning to get our focus off of God and instead put it on ourselves, or the world.
For example: it's a beautiful Sunday morning and you start thinking how nice it would be to get to the lake to go boating or fishing to enjoy the weather. After all, it wouldn't hurt you to skip just one Sunday of church because days like this don't come along very often. You give in a couple of times in a small way and then it starts to snowball from there. You're just so tired after a hard day's work and dealing with the family; it wouldn't kill you to go to bed early tonight and double up on your devotions and prayer time tomorrow - you'll catch up. Or how about this? It wouldn't hurt just this once to not say prayer at lunch, after all, nobody else at work does it and you're just not really ready to deal with the questions and harassment that the secular employees at your work might subject you to if they knew you were a devout Christian and gosh, what if someone interrupts you?
We easily rationalize away our relationship with God by giving into that voice in our head that says, "it's ok, everyone else does it".
All the while we're ignoring that other voice in our mind that says "what about God? What does God say you should do?"
Many Christians have been lured from their walk with God by taking baby steps in the wrong direction in doing small things that keep us away from Him that often turn into bigger things with harsher consequences before you even really understand what is happening.
How many instances of complacently drifting away do we go through until we find that we've drifted from our relationship with God and have strayed from our daily walk? If we're on the ball and recognize what's happening, we can stop it before it goes too far. Unfortunately, it usually isn't until something bad happens - job loss, death in the family, kids get in trouble, IRS audit, a marriage in trouble, etc. that we start to turn back to God.
In some cases though, we drift farther from God instead of getting closer. We place the blame at His doorstep because in the Deceiver's lie of "entitlement", we believe that anything we ask God for He should give to us right away, that we are entitled to everything we ask for. We don't want to accept that sometimes God's answer is "No" or "Wait". Often times it isn't until much later that we realize that God was right all along and that He really knew what He was doing. To quote a country song from many years ago "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers".
How many of you have recognized the hand of God in your unanswered prayers? How many times have you asked, pleaded or demanded something from God and God didn't give it to you, but years later you're so glad that He didn't? How long did it take you to realize that God had your best interests at heart by NOT giving you what you wanted or believed you needed? How often did you get discouraged or even angry at God instead of trusting that His plan is perfect? How many years have you wasted being angry or bitter toward God for an unanswered prayer, rather than looking around you at all of the blessings you have been given?
We usually turn back to God always after a hard lesson has been learned. When will we learn that it's not in the tough times that we need to seek God, but in ALL times, in all ways?
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a string of events that don't seem fair in our lives until we finally get it; until we finally understand that we were made to be in constant communion and communication with God. When we walk by His side, sometimes the tough times won't come, but if they do, we can weather those storms much better when we walk by His side and are under His protection.
We were called to be IN the world, not OF it, so why do we try so hard sometimes to conform to it? In what reality is the opinion of the world more important than God's opinion? Why do we try so hard to please others instead of God? Of course, most times life would be easier if we conformed to what the world says and be what the world tells us to be like or act like or look like. Here's the thing though, God never promised us that living life for Him would be easy; He just promised us that it would be worth it.
Which one of us in our right minds would trade the promises of God for the promises of the world? We know how it ends and the world and he who controls the world loses big time. Why would we deliberately choose to play for a losing team that will be separated from Glory forever in torment? What are a few minutes here on earth compared to eternity?
When the world, including unsaved family and friends, conspires against us to get us to lose faith, break fellowship and decrease communication with our Creator and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we must make a concerted effort to not let the world and he that is in the world break those bonds of faith and trust that connect us to our Savior.
When life brings you down to your knees, and your focus stops being on yourself, the only way you really have to turn and look is UP. Keep your focus where it belongs, on God, and your feet will not stumble over the disappointments that the world brings. Stay close to Him and you won't have to borrow glasses to find your way back to the One whose path you should have been following in the first place.