Monday, July 14, 2008

Life Got You Down?

One only need take a glance at the newspaper, a look at the news or simply pass by a gas station these days to get downright depressed. These days there are wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters of flames, floods, quakes and tsunamis. A presidential election is taking place and it seems that most of us aren't satisfied with the choices. Folks are losing their jobs, losing their homes and to top it all off, the kids won't wash the dishes, cut the yard or take out the trash without being told 26 times.

Yep, times are tough.

Or are they?

Brothers and sisters, family and friends, I submit to you that we serve a God of hope and prosperity. I can't deny that all of the above are true. I won't even try to convince you that there aren't people hurting all over this planet. But with the last breath left in my body, I'll shout to the hilltops that we serve a great God who cares for each and every one of us.

Our problems are those of perspective, contentment and faith. If we could make positive adjustments in just these three areas, our lives (and our outlook) would improve immeasurably.

I once read a story about a guy who was happy all the time. He always had a kind word to say and when anyone asked him how he was doing, he would say, "I'm superfantastic! Aren't you?" Most people wrote him off as a crackpot, but some inquired about his amazingly positive attitude. He would stop and take time to tell them how great things were, and by extension, how awfully bad they could be. He'd say things like, "Hey, I could be lying in a hospital with tubes running out of every orifice, but I am, by the grace of God, standing here talking to you. Worse, I could be lying destitute underneath a bridge near death with no one to care, yet here I am, by the grace of God talking to you." After exchanging a happy "Farewell," he went his way, humming along through the day.

As it would happen, one day he was in a terrible accident. He suffered massive contusions, many broken bones and a fractured skull. He was taken to the hospital unconscious with out much chance to live. As the doctors stood around him in the operating theatre, preparing to operate on his many wounds, the man found himself with a brief moment of consciousness before they applied the anesthesia. Through the foggy haze of his pain he noticed the grim and hopeless yet compassionate expressions on the doctor's faces. With the last ounce of his strength, he smiled at them all and said, "Do a good job guys. I plan on coming through this just fine by the grace of God, so do your work with the expectation of success."

You see beloved, we need to develop an understand that the way we look at life and all it brings is a choice. We can choose to look at all that is wrong and lament it, or we can choose to look at all that is good and celebrate. Both good and bad will be with us while we sojourn in this world, but to walk around sour, pessimistic and defeated is a choice just like being happy, optimistic and victorious is. It is true that into every life some rain must fall, but without the rain there would be no life. It is true that into every life some pain must come, but without the pain, we would learn few lessons and gain little strength.

It takes a conscious decision and a committed effort to realize, understand and live the psalmist's realization that "This is the day the Lord has made. We will be glad and rejoice in it." Psalm 118:24. Recently we studied the story of Ruth. Recall all that she went through. She lost a father-in-law, a brother-in-law, a husband and, for all intents and purposes, all she knew and grew up with. Her choices, ultimately placed her in the lineage of Christ.

What's your perspective?

Next week, we'll take a close look at something else that influences our outlook on life: contentment.

Until then, consider this: if life has you down, let Jesus lift you up.

Each One Reach One
Each One Teach One