You stand blind and barefoot among the looming trees of the threatening forest. Hopelessness encapsulates your thoughts as you struggle with feeling stuck, lost and alone…
This is what life can feel like when trials and tribulations come; when joy turns to grief or sorrow; when contentment turns to sadness and longing. There is nowhere to turn, no one to turn to. You stumble among the branches and twigs at your feet as you try to feel your way out of the chaotic darkness.
So how did you get here and what do you do now? How do you turn blindness into sight and clear away the maze of trees to find the field of joy and the clear path to a happy life?
Most won’t like the answer, because if you are a believer ~ a follower of the One True God ~ then the answer truly will be you won’t. Not on the earth, in this life you won’t. Look up any verses about suffering and you will be met with a barrage of choices to pick from. God did not shy away from telling us that our lives would be hard and filled with grief and anguish at times. 2 Timothy 3:1 says But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
Regardless of your thoughts on the timing of the tribulation or of millennial-isms, we have been living in the “last days” since Christ ascended to His Heavenly Father. Let’s face it, there is a reason that Paul continually told us to run the race with endurance and finish well. To be ready, find the path set before us, and persevere till the end. Life is hard! If it wasn’t, Christ would not have, during His earthly ministry, continually talked about being there for us, to love us, and guide us. Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.
So why are we so surprised when our life is not going right or we find ourselves in, what seems like, a hopeless mess? 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.
Our responses should not remain in surprise or shock or discontentment, but rather focus on rejoicing, blessing, and honoring God. Again, we have verse upon verse showing to “consider it all joy”, “rejoice in the Lord always”, “hope in the Lord always”, “standing firm in the faith”, “glory in our sufferings” ~ just to name a few.
And yet, here we are ~ suicides are abounding among us. We are jumping from counselor to counselor and drug to drug ~ trying to figure out why we are not happy.
Why we cannot find “joy for the moment” or contentment with our circumstances.
We blame external choices, people, environments, etc. when all along God says the answer is truly simple: trust, obey, love, and rejoice.
So, why can’t we?
Let me share with you reasons I have come across in my own life as to the “why?” ~
The skillful art of comparison
Even more so now with social media the way it is, this lovely art of comparing oneself to another is at an all-time high. The even crazier thing is we are comparing ourselves to fake versions of others. And even if not completely fake, why do we “covet thy neighbor’s” anything? Why do we look at what everyone else has and become so discontented with our own lot? Our narcissistic society has grown to a point where we covet all things we do not have, even if they are not actually attainable. We express our groanings to God that He messed up because we don’t look like…, don’t have…, don’t want to contend with…, need, want, etc. etc. etc. Yet, God never promised any of it to us. In fact, He called us blessed if we were the lowly, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the suffering. We have let society redefine our “happy place” and our worth. We have let the sin of our wants and desires lead us to hate God and despise our lives. But, the funny thing is ~ this life isn’t for you! It has never truly been about you! (Galatians 2:20)
The art of self-love
This, of course, is really the root of it all. The irony is, how do we say it is self-love when we feel like hopeless pieces of dirt? Yet, if we get down to the root of the feelings, it truly is all about a “poor me” attitude, is it not? We tell ourselves we deserve something better than what we have. We “deserve” to be happy, healthy, loved, and content ~ after all it is the “American Way”, right? But tell me, where does it say that? I think the number one reason people like to change God’s Word is because they want to be able to tell themselves they deserve what makes them happy. We are like little children who always want our way, regardless if it is right for us or not. My son wants to eat a bag of Doritos every day, but obviously that wouldn’t be the smartest choice. He may think I don’t love him because I don’t allow him that pleasure, but I am doing it for his own good. He may think, “if you love me you will want me happy, and Doritos make me happy.” Well yes, my dearest, but that will also kill you. We literally love ourselves to death.
Even for those, like myself, who struggle with being introverted due to what society would call a “low self-esteem” it all comes from a fear of not being loved or accepted. Why should I be loved or accepted in the first place? Am I not the lowest of all sinners? We set standards for our lives to try and convey to ourselves and others that we mean something. When in reality, all we truly deserve is an eternity in Hell. But crazy enough, we do mean something ~ to God! So, why is it not enough for us to know we mean everything to our Lord and our Savior? His death on the cross, for our gain of eternal life with Him, is enough for us since in this we have the one and only thing that will unshakably define who we are and give us our true value! I am preaching to myself here ~ believe me!
So what do we do? How do we turn our pain into joy and our sorrow into contentment?
The blessing for us is God gave us instructions on this very thing!!!
Stayed tuned for the second part of this article and we’ll talk more in depth on this, but those instructions begin with this Good News ~
Cast all of your cares on Him, because He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7
About the author:
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her beautiful family.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, her work in Marketing at Santa Clarita Christian School, and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshipping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.