December 3, 2011
It Can Be So Disheartening
Do you feel disheartened?
If you don't right now, just wait because we all end up there at one point or another, I can assure you. And when you get there, how in the world do you keep putting one foot in front of the other?
Sometimes it is just downright impossible not to be disheartened. You don't get the job you really wanted because someone else is more qualified, or the project you have been working on for what seems like an eternity just completely fell apart. Or despite your working your tail off, there is just never enough money to quite pay all the bills even as the medical statements keep arriving in your mailbox. No one knows, but your marriage is beyond struggling, your teens are testing beyond your capacity and you awake in a panic more often then you would like to admit. Or the one thing you held most dear was ripped from your desperate grasp through no fault of your own, never to be recovered. Any of these things are a recipe for feeling disheartened, to be sure.
It's just not fair. I can understand things not going our way when we do dumb stuff like rack up too many credit cards, lie to our boss or cheat on our beloved. But it is so much more difficult to swallow when we are doing our best to be on the right side of things. We sacrifice and strive to build that which is good only to have our efforts make things worse. How in the world can anyone hold their head up in what can seem like a constant barrage of just plain crappy luck?
I'm sure you know, probably from your mother, that life is not fair. No one promised fairness on any level. Not mom, not dad...oh wait, grandma may have, but it was just a facade because she loved you so much, I'm sure. The government, despite it's attempts at legislating morality and equality, never manages to quite arrive at fair, either. No teacher I've ever had achieved complete fairness, unfortunately, nor has any employer. That is because mom was right - life is certainly, markedly and absolutely not fair.
But, we want it to be fair. We long for things to be fair, especially when we are getting the short end of the proverbial stick. We long for fairness, or shall we call it justice? We want the good guys (us) to win and the bad guys (them) to get the shaft, right? Somehow we are wired, created so to speak, to desire justice and to balk at injustice. And that is exactly what unfairness is - injustice.
I am convinced that somewhere within my brain I have an injustice button. There are times when that baby goes off and I am hit with emotions out of the clear blue. Anger, frustration, indignation...all as a result of that injustice button getting pushed. It doesn't seem to matter if it is injustice toward me or someone else, the reaction is the same.
"No. No, no, no. This is not OK and has to stop - it is unfair! I can't believe this is happening..."
I picture it as a big red button similar to those EASY buttons you see in the ads for that office supply store. Once my injustice button has been pushed, I diligently start looking for a way to make things right in the situation - to re-establish justice. It is unfortunate, however, that a good portion of the time, injustice can only be reverted to justice if all parties involved are mature, humble and willing. In my experience, this doesn't happen often.
So again I ask, how in the world do you keep putting one foot in front of the other when injustice seems to assault us on a regular basis? I have heard often, I'm sure you have as well, that injustice in our world is a result of the 'fallen nature'. It's all because back in the Garden, Adam and Chavah messed up big time, bought the lie of the evil one and decided they needed to have the knowledge of good and evil. Well, alright - that's probably part of it. But, that doesn't stop me from wanting justice for the one who hasn't seen his kids for too long or the wife of the alcoholic that just wants her husband back. For me, justice starts with honesty and righteousness and is accomplished with wisdom, compassion and perseverance.
If you are a believer you probably have heard that "G-d will not give you more than you can handle". I have heard this, as well, but it's not really written in Scripture quite in that way. I suspect that a better way to say it would be that "G-d will not bring things into your life without enabling you to be able to handle it with His strength and power". Consider the words of Paul to the Philippians, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." When the hard things present themselves in our lives, our LORD already knows that we are going to need supernatural strength and comfort to make it through. Thankfully, He is ready and willing to walk beside us through it all, even the cancer diagnosis or the wrenching of close relationship. The goal, of course, is not just to 'move on', but to learn, grow and ultimately, glorify our Master.
For me, I have only found one way to continue through days of disheartening despair, those times spent longing for justice - take it to the LORD. He alone is the One who knows why things happen and how things will result, for "...we know that for those who love G-d all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." (So says Paul in Romans 8.) I also know that He is sovereign over all things, and has those things, including justice, well in hand. And it may be a comfort to remember that everyone will face the Holy and Righteous Judge eventually, "But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of G-d." (Romans 14) This not only helps me to keep my focus where it needs to be (on glorifying Him through trials), but also helps me to leave vengeance to the One to whom it belongs.
The Almighty will judge in complete justice...someday. At some point in time we will witness complete and total fairness. But until then, He is there to comfort us with the knowledge that He is in control of our lives; every hard thing that we encounter, every disappointment, every failure and grievous loss will somehow glorify Him - not only in the end, but along the way, as well. No, it is not easy to remember the coming justice on those dark days soaked in despair, or those miserable nights where defeat is your bedfellow. However, feeling disheartened presents us with the challenge and opportunity of reaffirming our faith and hope that the Righteous One is on our side when we follow His plan and allow Him to guide our steps, even when it's hard.