We get a do-over. Every day.
I know that sounds simplistic, but it's so easy to forget. Trust me! The past few months, I found myself in this desert of discontent. At first, just one area of my life had me a little frustrated, but soon other areas joined in and, before I knew it, there I was - fussing about everything.
A wise friend of mine says that if something or someone annoys you, then maybe it really is just that person who has an issue. But when you think everyone else has a problem, then take a look in the mirror sweetie, because the problem is probably YOU.
To hear my pitiful self tell it, the world was simply horrible and unjust. Everything and everyone was a headache or a problem that just wore me slap out. Never mind that fact that I had a beautiful home to house my family, an abundance of food to feed them, clean clothes on our backs, fresh water to drink, good health for all, and even a little bit of money in the bank. Somehow I still I thought I was justified in my misery.
I'm sure I sounded a bit like the prophet Jeremiah, who was believed to be the author of this passage below. See how many of his proclamations you can identify with.
"I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the LORD’s wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.
He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.
He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.
Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. He has filled me with bitter herbs and given me gall to drink.
He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me." -Lamentations 3:1-20 (NIV)Looking back, all I needed was sackcloth and ashes and I think I could have wandered the streets proclaiming my sorrow.
One day in the midst of my melodrama, I had a meltdown and yelled at my kids. Almost immediately I remembered Luke 6:45, which says:
"A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."I tried to figure out what had my heart so full of ugly, but I just couldn't quite peg it. I still didn't recognize that the problem was me - that my perspective was completely out of focus.
God took some time, but He eventually opened my eyes so I could see clearly again. Then I was like, "Oh - that's what was wrong the whole time!"
I had forgotten something very important - to see all the good things God had given me. My choice instead had been to focus on the problems.
Remember Jeremiah? Let's pick up where he left off:
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." Lamentations 3:21-26 (NIV)So, we've gone from wailing in the streets to having hope. How did that happen?
By remembering! "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope." Stop obsessing on the junk and praise God for the good! Even if you have to think back a while to find any. It's there. You've just forgotten it temporarily, like I did. But when you remember it, you regain hope that God can do it again.
Really, the Hebrew word used here for hope (yakhal) could be replaced with the word "faith." In this passage, it doesn't mean that we cross our fingers that God will forgive us, or cut us a break, or drop a winning lottery ticket in our hands. It means that we "have a confident expectation for the future with a sense of anticipation and certainty while waiting for the outcome." (Tyndale NLT Study Bible definition.)
Sense of anticipation and certainty.