Last week, my son, who is an only child, was feeling sorry for himself because he had no one to play with. My initial reaction was guilt feeling like I was letting him down for not stopping what I was doing and go find him a playmate. Then, it kind of hit me that it would never be possible for me to make all of my child’s wants available to him when he wanted it. Neither is it good for him! If I spend all of my life’s efforts to make him feel no pain or displeasure, how disappointed he will feel when life throws at him its harsh realities of things that I cannot control. I would not only have given him a misrepresentation of life; but also failed to teach him coping mechanisms to handle life’s problems.
I think that as children and then adults, we have a very human tendency to avoid hardships. I know I do. Who likes to have problems? I think that its ok and normal to not like them and try to avoid them, but let’s face it, we’re going to have them. My mom used to express to me every time I was complaining about some wrong in the world with a sigh “It’s a fallen world.” I hated that expression. It made me feel that there wasn’t anything I could do to fix things or that there was no hope in something better. However, I can’t deny that she was right. It is a fallen world. Until Jesus comes back and restores His creation to the right order as He intended it, it’s going to be an imperfect and hard world to live in.
BUT, all is not lost even now. I don’t have to wait until His kingdom is completely established to promote it now. I can’t always “fix” problems, but I do know how to live in joy knowing that the present troubles are nothing compared to what is to come. I also know that God does save the day and takes care of us even in this fallen world. He answers our prayers. He blesses us.
But what about the times when our blessings become something that is hard for us? Here is where I stopped what I was doing that day and had a talk with my disheartened son. “You are a very blessed little boy. All of these years, you have told me that you like being an only child. You’ve had it good. You like being able to have the undivided love of parents. You also don’t have to share our attention and time with anyone else. You enjoy having your time and space not invaded by other children. I know that this situation isn’t perfect and there are aspects that make this situation hard for you. It gets lonely. You don’t have anyone to share good and bad times with. You don’t have anyone to play with. Because this world isn’t perfect, even in our blessings there are problems. Because this world is fallen, we sometimes have bad things shadowing the good. With all things, we have the good and we have the things that we have to put up with. The things that we have to put up with are only bad when we focus on them and forget the good things that we enjoy. If our focus is on our blessings then the problems that come with it dim in comparison. If we focus on the problems, we completely dismiss all that God has blessed us with and we are ungrateful. Ungratefulness is a joy stealer. So, when the hardship comes to mind, remember the good things; the things that God has blessed you with and I guarantee you that you won’t be down for long.”
God had answered a big prayer a few years back. A prayer that I had been praying for a long time. When He answered it, it was wonderful, but then as time went on, there were things that were unpleasant. Not at all what I expected. Upon taking it to God, His answer to me was this “Some blessings have to be walked out.” Meaning some blessings or what we envisioned that blessing to be, needs time and work to bring into its complete fruition. Even in certain blessings, things do not come easy. However, as I’m walking out my blessing right now, I intentionally focus on the wonderful things that I’ve been given. I list them in my mind when the problems arise. I dwell on God’s goodness and how He has taken care of me in all situations. I find myself able to walk this walk with a grateful heart. A grateful heart keeps an unblocked access to His joy. His joy is our strength.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” ~ Lamentations 3:21-24