Life is unpredictable, chaotic, challenging, unexpected.
That’s a given.
Life is messy.
In a single day you may run into a disgruntled cashier at the grocery store, settle yet another dispute between your toddlers, deal with family who is hurt that you don’t spend enough time with them, appease a boss who doesn’t care that your son has a soccer game and feels that work is more important than family, and look at the scale and realize you gained weight instead of lost it, not to mention that finances are tight, your car is on the fritz, and your best friend isn’t speaking to you because she mistook your offer for help as a slight against her ability to parent her children.
When these and other similar situations come crashing down on us, what is your first tendency?
Do you let God into your mess?
Most of us want to vent, complain, grumble, protest, and a whole host of other adjectives that can be summed up in—LIFE IS HARD! AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when everything seems to be crashing in upon us.
I mean, we are only human, and we can only handle so much stress. But herein lies the problem. We tend to try and handle things on our own. We try to muscle through it. Or cry our way through it. Or complain our way through it. When, instead, we should be shifting our focus and praying our way through it.
David knew what hardship looked like. He experienced it his whole life.
As a shepherd, he dealt with dangerous situations and hard work, not to mention being the youngest in the family, which probably resulted in a lot of teasing and always getting the short end of the straw.
He probably thought life was looking up when he was invited to stay in the palace and play music for the king. But that didn’t end so well.
Having a javelin whiz past your head doesn’t seem like fun to me.
It was a privilege to marry the king’s daughter, but marital bliss didn’t last for long, because David ended up on the run and spent many years as a fugitive, being hunted by a madman for a king and father-in-law.
Things didn’t exactly improve once David became king. He then had to deal with jealous sons and family members who had their eyes set on the throne. Plus, thanks to his own unchecked desires, he had an affair, got Bathsheba pregnant, ordered the death of an innocent man to cover his mistake, and then lost his son at birth.
Each step along the way, David had plenty to complain about, just like us, but if you read the psalms, David took a posture of praise.
He knew he could sit and focus on all the bad, or he could lift his eyes up to the hills and look to God for help (Psalm 121).
When we shift our gaze off of our problems and onto God, we find peace.
It doesn’t mean that our problems miraculously go away, but our mindset is different.
“Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine” (Psalm 16:5, NLT).
The things of this world are temporary, but the inheritance of God will last forever.
The challenges we face on this earth are for a short time, but the blessing of spending eternity with God will stretch on forever.
Where is your focus?
Are you stuck in the bog of complaints and hurt feelings because your gaze is narrowed in on all that is wrong with your world, or are you looking for God’s blessings in the midst of the chaos?
Paul wrote the following in Ephesians 1:3: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”
We have the promise and the assurance that we are connected with Christ. We are united with Him.
We can’t be destroyed or overtaken by the challenges we face. God has blessed us with “every spiritual blessing.”
He wants to give us peace, love, joy, patience, and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit.
He stands ready to help us cope instead of complaining.
But we have to let Him in.
We have to allow Him to change our hearts. Instead of focusing on ourselves and how we will manage, we need to praise God for who He is, how He’s led in the past, and what He will do in the future to help us through whatever challenges lie before us.
What situations are you facing that leave you feeling frustrated and defeated? What are you tempted to complain about? How can you turn those situations into an opportunity to praise God? What blessing can you find in the midst of the chaos?