“Why do I even bother?” It seems that I’m asking myself this question a lot these days. Why vote? Why speak up? Why do I care? Does my opinion really matter? We all ask ourselves these questions from time to time. I wish I had an answer to why we ask them. It seems to me that we are programmed to care about many of things in this world, even the things that have no direct impact on us. I suppose this is where compassion lives – we care. When we care, it matters to us. Our ability to influence the outcome is another story altogether but we still care and can get frustrated when we try to help and get no response. We’ll vote in the elections tomorrow and if our candidate isn’t elected, we’ll get frustrated and say, “Why bother?”
Imagine for a moment though, no one cared. If it didn’t immediately affect them, they ignored it. People being directly affected by discrimination started civil rights movements but it was people who cared enough to help that made a difference. You can see where change has taken place across the planet and there were always people willing to do something to make that change possible. This door swings both ways – good and evil are accomplished by people willing to take action. The good news is that the good has far out numbered the evil. So what motivates you? Perhaps it’s music or reading or maybe even a special person. Knowing what it is will help and then keep it close to you when doubt creeps in. Staying positive is often easier said than done but you never know when or if you will be someone else’s inspiration.
“16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I can’t even begin to imagine if God had given up on us. We were terrible children who won’t or couldn’t obey His simple commands and requests. We grew impatient waiting, we ignored Him and when He did send us a savior, we turned away and then killed Him. But God was patient and knew us better than we knew ourselves. He let His plan unfold and now there are millions of Christians in this world and millions more now have eternal life because of Jesus. We are encouraged because we have faith in the Word of God.
We often hear that we should be looking for the silver lining in everything. Honestly, it is hard to find good in so much of the bad that is going on in this world. God tells us to encourage our hearts and be strengthened in good deed and word. The best place to find these is in the bible. We will never know the real purpose of him but we know the real promises of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The devil does bad things to get us to turn away from God and our best defense against evil is turning toward God. Seek Him in everything and you will find encouragement and strength.
When our son decided to get a tattoo, my only request was that it be something meaningful to him. He had designed his own symbol that represents – be positive and keep moving forward, period! Two bent lines and a dot in the center (the period). When he looked up similar symbols he found that it is almost identical to the Viking symbol for create your own destiny. It was very meaningful to him and he had the two lines and a dot placed on the underside of his left wrist. I often think about the emotion that created the symbol for him and thought back to drive that I had at his age – oh, to be young again!
The verse today describes how most of us feel on a regular basis – hard pressed. Since we just started not only a new year but new decade, I’d suggest that we all should focus on the opportunities of the new beginning and not dwell on the past. Our son had the right idea – be positive and look forward in all things. He’s obviously much smarter than I ever give him credit for. So ask yourself, are you looking forward to what is possible or are you looking behind at what could have been? As they say, “out of the mouths of babes”, come great advice from someone who is choosing to see the rest of his life with great optimism. Many of us may not be young but we can all look to the new year with a positive view.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:8
My guess is that this verse describes most of our lives – hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. We are however, not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned and not destroyed and we have God to thank for that. Life can be hard and challenging but God is right next to us, helping navigate the troubles of our lives. I can’t imagine if I let all of the negative things that happen in my life gain the advantage, how miserable I would be. I’m not always the most positive person but I rarely let take it control of me. God is where my strength comes form.
God is in control of our lives and He has a plan for us. While we can’t create our own destiny, we do have the ability to influence the things that affect that plan. We can choose to ignore God’s plan or we can choose to follow it. Our son’s tattoo is really a symbol of what God’s wants for us – stay positive and keep moving forward. We will not be destroyed by this life or by the sin of our lives. God sent us a Savior to make sure that we would be close to Him; forgiven of all sin and innocent in His eyes. This is enough reason to keep moving forward and to stay positive.
Isn’t life wonderful when things are going well? A promotion or raise at work helps lift our outlook on just about everything. Once something great happens, we often follow that up with the expression of our doubt, “we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop”. When things are going well, we become so proud of ourselves and the great things we’ve done. It is easy to forget where the good comes from when we are successful. When times are difficult, we often start looking for someone to blame. Don’t lose your bearings when things get harder, continue to seek the Lord. Maintain your attitude and Christ-like perspective, people will appreciate and respect you for it.
Rely on God to keep you grounded; He’s the one in control, not you. You will be tested when things get tough. How you treat others, your level of honesty and caring and if you stay committed to serving others will tell a lot about your character but remember, you will lack no good thing. Don’t change your character because the times change. In the workplace, when things are going bad, people seek leaders at all levels and a true leader is often found in the most stressful times. When things start to look bad, keep communicating. Coworkers will be unsure and afraid, help them stay focused on what is actually happening, not on what is perceived to be happening.
“Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” Psalm 34:10
Do you seek the Lord in times of trouble? Keep the Lord as your focus and continue to seek to understand His word as you develop your relationship with God. This will help you continue to seek the Lord in all times – good and bad. Seek Him in everything you do. Start your work day with a simple prayer “Lord, please guide my decisions and actions today so that I may bring glory to you and to care for those around me”. Keeping God as the priority in your life will bring good things to you. The old expression “when one door closes another will open” describes this Psalm perfectly.
Just as you see things being bad, God will show you the good in the situation. If you are seeking the Lord in the good and the bad times, you will start to see the good things all around you. The thing to remember, and the hardest part, is that change in your life will be on His timeline and not yours. Remain patient and focused on the Lord, he will reveal His plans – have faith no matter how bad things seem to appear. Jesus faced the worst week of His life and yet remained faithful to His Father. No matter what you have happening in your life right now, it pales in comparison to what Jesus went through. His example teaches us that we should remain faithful and in the end we will be rewarded with eternal life. Happy Easter!