Right now I am reading through Second Kings and I've gotten to the section where the chapters get short because they tell the stories of one failed king after another. It tells how the king came to power (usually by assassination) and it consistently uses phrases like:
Or you read this:
"In God's eyes he lived an evil life...he didn't deviate from the sins of Jeroboam...he plodded along in the same tracks, step after step."
"He lived the way God wanted and did the right thing. But he didn't come up to the standards of his ancestor David..."Then there is this week's reading in my Disciple Bible Study which focuses on the Book of Job. Here's a man who we know, right from the start, is blameless in God's eyes yet he loses everything! So then his friends show up to offer "comfort" all the while spouting off that it's obvious that he did something wrong and he should just fess up! With friends like this, who needs enemies?
Yeah, not exactly light, heady, uplifting reading! But there are a couple of modern day parallels in all of this. Start with Kings. Substitute "government official" for king and you get a picture of a person in leadership who hasn't deviated from the patterns of the past and continues to plod along. I won't be the judge of whether or not that is a sin, because that's beside the point. The point is, the average American thinks that our leadership is doing nothing to address the current problems our country faces.
Then, there is Job. He had it all by worldly standards and yet he lost it all through no fault of his own. There are a lot of people in this country in similar situations. They worked hard, they did the right things, they are good people, yet they lost their job, their homes and their savings. My guess is they have a few friends who probably sit there beside them and say "well, there must have been something that you did wrong to cause this to happen?!" Again, with friends like this who needs enemies?
Where's the uplifting part in all of this? It has to do with how we respond. In the question and answer part of Disciple Bible Study is this statement:
"The Christian Disciple knows that suffering causes a person to choose bitterness or creativity."Now add this from 2 Corinthians 5:
"Cheerfully, pleasing God is the main thing, and that's what we can aim to do, regardless of our conditions."Ah ha! Is the glass half full or half empty? How do I respond to what is going on around me? Am I able to respond with hope, faith and love or do I respond with anger, frustration and bitterness? And as a Christian, regardless of my circumstances, can I still find a way to serve? Can I cheerfully please God regardless of my condition?
I'll be honest, my initial response when something goes wrong tends to fall on the half empty side. (Told ya I wasn't perfect!) After I calm down a bit, I can start seeing the half full side but it takes some time! My husband on the other hand is the eternal optimist! It takes an awful lot for him to flip to the half empty side! That's why he is so good for me because he makes me look for the blessings in disguise and try to find the silver lining!
I do think there is a lesson here for each of us personally. Initially, anger and frustration can spur you on to make changes. But anger long lived, leads to bitterness and bitterness shuts down creativity. If you can't get beyond focusing on what you have lost, it's tough to look at what you have left and figure out a way to use it differently and creatively! You plod along in the same ole way, do the same ole thing and as a result nothing changes!
Ya know, I know a lot of very smart people who got some very cool degrees in very specific fields who have never worked a day in their life in that chosen field! Yet, they have been very successful doing other things! Each and every one of us has untapped potential. So maybe you didn't train in a certain field, so what?! Are you passionate about it? Do you have gifts and abilities that would allow you to do the job? Then why sell yourself short? Why not take those God given talents and find a new way to use them?
This also applies to serving others as well! Do you see a need in your church or community? Sort of a big gaping hole that seems so obvious to you but yet, nothing is being done about it? Why not take that passion and energy and creativity and come up with a plan! Or maybe, there is a need, there is a program but you are not involved yet. You may be exactly the person they need! You may not feel that you have a lot to offer but take the leap anyway! You might find that volunteering is the toughest job you'll ever love and in the process you may find a gift that you have always had but never noticed!
Trouble comes. Bad things happen to good people. How you respond can make all of the difference. It's normal to be angry and frustrated to begin with but the key is to choose the path of creativity over the path of bitterness. Is the glass half full or half empty? My darling friends, if you are on the half empty side I pray that today is the day that you choose to look at the half full side! I pray that today you focus on what you have rather than what you have lost. I pray that you choose to serve regardless of your circumstances. I pray that you choose to tap in to your God given creativity! Today is your day! Rejoice and be glad!