Whenever I see people (or myself) in a pity-party because of the situations or circumstances around them, I’ve learned it’s often because of one of three things. I’m sure there are many other reasons, but these three tend to pop up the most:
Living by the law – The fact is that I see people put unbearable standards on themselves and when they don’t measure up to them, they feel defeated, like a failure, unworthy, or even unloved. The law sets us up for failure. The primary purpose of the law was to show us that we couldn’t live up to God’s standard on our own and point out for us why we needed a Savior. Living by the law keeps us from the freedom, joy and peace Christ died for us to have.
Not realizing truth - The truth is that “if the Son has set you free you are free indeed”. The truth is that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world”. The truth is He has numbered the hairs on my head. The truth is we live by faith, not by sight. The truth is He will never leave us or forsake us. The truth is “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive” what God has planned for His children. (And, so much more.) When we fail to realize the truths of God’s Word it keeps us from living in the freedom, joy and peace God intends for us to have.
Refusing to forgive – Every time I speak about forgiveness people rise up with stories of abuse, neglect, hurt and pain. There are some wounded people in the world. While I am sensitive to the injuries, I’m reminded that as forgiven people we are to be people who forgive. That is not granting people a license to injure us more, but it is freeing our hearts from the bondage of an unforgiving spirit. Whether we are angry at God, at others, or at ourselves, extending forgiveness frees us to live the peaceful, joyful, unbridled life God intended for His children. When we hold onto pain instead of forgiveness, we block the freedom, peace and joy a believer is designed to experience.
I believe that working through these three issues can help us live with freedom, joy and peace, and even live happily, all while residing in a very mixed up world. I realize using a term such as “unhappy” creates immediate tension for some. You don’t have to be “happy” when life falls apart around you, you see friends or family suffering, or at the tragedies of the day. Those don’t have to make you happy, but for the believer, there is always a reason to work through those negative emotions that naturally come and remind ourselves of the state of freedom, joy and peace that God provides…in the midst of suffering. I don’t know about you…but when I do that process…it makes me very happy!
Which of these is keeping you from experiencing all God has for you?
(Feel free to debate with me the difference in joy and happiness on this post. While not the purpose of this post, I welcome the discussion.)