We have a choice!
Because we are human, life is hard! Why do I say that? Quite simply, we humans fight a major battle that goes on every day between our ears. The battlefield of life goes on in our minds. Will we trust God or will we listen to the voice of the Enemy? Of course, there are external circumstances that impact this battle, but nonetheless how we handle the competing thoughts in our heads makes a big difference on how we handle life.
Sin impacts the way we view life. We have a tendency to think about our circumstances both introspectively and myopically ignoring the larger picture. It reminds me of the prophet Jonah. After reluctantly telling the Ninevites that unless they would turn from their wicked ways, their propensity to reject God and live selfish lives had invoked the just penalty impending judgement. Shortly after preaching God’s warning, the Prophet went to a nearby hill and laid down watching expectantly in hopes that despite their initial repentance the Ninevites would incur the just penalty for their sin.
While on the hill, God provided Jonah with some relief via a large plant to shade him from the heat of the blistering sun. However, the plant was quickly destroyed and Jonah’s comfort was soon disrupted. In response, all Jonah could do was focus on himself and complain about his seemingly difficult situation. All the while, the Ninevites heeded God’s warning from Jonah initiating a great revival and all of Ninevah was saved. What an incredible juxtaposition! Jonah should have rejoiced, but he was shortsighted, completely unconcerned about anyone else but himself and his attitude reflected it!
How easy it is to find ourselves in the place of Jonah: not caring about the things God cares about, while only caring about ourselves. When we find ourselves in such a situation, it is a recipe for personal misery. Like Jonah, sometimes we start feeling sorry for ourselves. This is a trap of the Enemy to keep us from being effective as followers of Jesus. We forget we have been saved by Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we pay no attention to how He has given us everything we need for life and godliness in the face of any and every circumstance and we obsess with a “woe is me” mindset.
What can we do? We can make a choice. We can choose by faith and with effort to turn our hearts towards God. Yes, I said effort. Faith initiates our behavior while we are often devoid of any sort of feeling or motivation to do something about it.
King David faced many life defeating, overwhelming and painful obstacles, but He learned a secret. What did David do in the midst of such circumstances? David would consistently admonish himself concerning God’s faithfulness. Psalm 42:5 says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Do you see what David did? He literally spoke to himself telling himself he shouldn’t be so down and disturbed because God, despite his circumstances, was good (42:8). David also reminded himself that he had a hopeful future because God was His Savior both in this life and the life to come!
The Apostle Paul gives us similar advice when He says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In this passage, the Spirit speaks to us about the importance of choosing a lifestyle of rejoicing, praying and giving thanks in any and every circumstance. God is always good! God really cares, not just for us, but for the whole world! For this we can rejoice and be thankful and when we do, we will find ourselves in a better place. So tell me who do you choose to be like Jonah or David and Paul?