I was rolling my eyes inside my head as I listened to someone sharing their frustration with me about a certain situation. I wanted to just look at them and say something like this–
You can fix this yourself. If you’d just do “A”, then you would get “B”.
I don’t know what made this conversation from the past come to my mind this week, but there it was. And I started thinking about how many of us do this. We complain about a situation in our lives and, yet, if we’d just do things the way we should, we probably could change it and get the results we so desire.
For instance, we may be frustrated that we are in debt, but we aren’t willing to do the work and sacrifice necessary to not be in debt.
We may be frustrated that our marriage isn’t very healthy, but we aren’t willing to give up our own selfish desires to make it better.
We may be frustrated that we don’t get a raise or a promotion, but we aren’t willing to be an employee of integrity and give a 100%, no matter what job we have.
As I thought about all of these “people” that struggle with getting from here to there, I recognized just how often I do this same thing in many areas of my life.
The one that I do this with the most is my weight. Throughout all of my life, I was able to eat pretty much what I wanted without gaining weight. I was never super skinny but I wasn’t really overweight, either. However, these midlife years have presented quite a challenge for me. Now, it seems as if I gain a pound just by looking at food. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration. But, realistically, in order for me to stay the same weight, I cannot continue to eat the same way I ate for my whole life.
So this is my new life. And I have a choice. I can choose to continue on in the way I always have or I can choose to scale back on my calories and eat healthier.
The choice is mine. And only mine.
And, yet, I often find myself complaining about this. Not so much to others–although I have been known to do that. No, my negative dialogue occurs mostly in my head. Constantly.
It feels like there are a million miles between here (typical middle-aged body) and there (skinny, attractive) and that it is impossible to reach. But I don’t really do anything about it except grumble.
As I have been working through this in my head over the last several years (yes, I said years–weight seems to be the internal battle that just won’t go away), I have thought about all of this quite a bit.
And I realize that there are some things we really need to consider, when we see a there that we want to reach. First and foremost, we need to view our goal from God’s perspective by using the Word. So often we feel pressure to be something or to do something because the world is pushing us and telling us we need to do it. But what does the Bible say?
We do know that God wants us to be good stewards of all that we have been given (Luke 16:10; I Corinthians 4:2), whether it be our bodies or our finances or our marriages, but how exactly does that look? What should be our test for this?
Scripture has much to say about all of these things and more and our first duty is to find out what it says.
And then we need to act on what we learn. If I am not being a good steward of my resources, what am I going to do about it?
One thing we do know for sure is that inaction is useless in getting us to there. And yet inaction–as much as we all hate it and desire to avoid it–is so tempting. It is always easier to float downstream than to use the energy necessary to swim upstream. And so this is why so many of us are much more comfortable floating along, bemoaning our circumstances.
Another thing we should consider is whether or not we are setting a goal that is outside of our control. Sometimes our there is just simply out of our reach and yet we keep trying to manipulate circumstances to get to where we want to go. Perhaps it is a rebellious, wayward child, a spouse who refuses to change, a dead-end job with a lousy boss that we need to survive, or we have a chronic health issue.
So what then?
This situation makes me think of Paul. He, too, was given a circumstance –we don’t know what it was–that was frustrating him. We read about it in 2 Corinthians 12–
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul wanted this thorn to be removed but God said NO. This thorn was used to keep Paul humble and relying on Christ rather than on himself. Paul’s trials drew him to Christ rather than away from Christ.
Is this what our trials do for us? It’s a good question to ask ourselves, isn’t it?
We probably cannot grow from trials until we get to the point of resting in God’s sovereignty–always continuing in fervent prayer for those we love or for our seemingly impossible circumstances and doing what we can to change the situation, and yet resting in His timing and His will instead of always trying to fix it ourselves.
And, finally, one last thing we should always consider– whether our there is within or outside of our control–is our final there. Our daily decisions here on earth should always be made with eternity in mind. Matthew 6 puts it this way–
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So, while it is very important that we be good stewards with all we have been entrusted, it is also very important that we live with heaven in mind. I don’t know about you, but this is not always part of my decision-making process. I get caught up in the here and now and do not always give much consideration to eternity.
Well, I hope my rambling thoughts gave you some food for thought today. As you may have noticed, I am working through all of this myself and certainly have a long way to go. It is a challenge to live a victorious Christian life here on this fallen earth and I struggle every day. But it is so important that we keep moving forward in this life.
May we continually dig deeper in the Word with submissive and obedient hearts and may we give ourselves to dedicated prayer, all the while relying on God for the grace and strength to get through each day. In so doing, we will show a lost and dying world that Jesus does make a big difference–not only for eternity, but also for the here and now.