Thursday, February 11, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

They say the grass is greener on the other side—so you hop over the fence and look back only to see... that the grass is greener on the other side! Things are not always what they seem.

We dream about what it would be like if only we had money. We look at others and think, if I had their job, their house, their looks—things would be better.  We would be better. Is this wise? Is it even true? There are lots of people in this world who seem to have everything. You want what they have, but then the next thing you know, they’re going through a messy divorce; they’re dying of a sickness; their family wants nothing to do with them or they are hopelessly addicted to drugs. They have everything and yet it’s not enough to make things better, nor are they happy.

I mentioned (in an earlier post) a man who worked himself to the bone in this life. When he died, his wife fixed their crumbling home and his children spent his money. When he was alive, he could have lived in a nice home, he could have gone on a vacation now and again. Instead he spent his spare time going through garbage bins to make some money on the side, though he was a millionaire. Somehow he was not able to enjoy the abundance that he had. Why is this?

“...for apart from Him, who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the man who pleases Him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy:” Ecclesiastes 2:25,26 RSV

You are probably wondering why God would give someone something, but withhold the ability to enjoy it. I just want to point out that God gives good things to the good and the bad alike. That is His love at work. We are on this earth to learn something and God gives us what we need to learn it. When He withholds something, and I know you’re not going to like this, but-- it’s for our good. It is so that we can learn what He is teaching us.

 “For to the man who pleases Him.” Many have misread this to mean some kind of formal religious service, like going to church or some other religious performance. Not that going to church is bad, but clarity is important here. Many have worn themselves out in religious performance. They’ve done the right things, said the right words, received their reward through the pleasing looks of mere men--but even good things can be done in vain. God looks at the motivation of the heart.

How do we please God? Faith is what pleases God. Believing that He is; trusting Him with your life and the lives of those you love; acting on what you believe; knowing His Word and living it through your lives. It’s faith that pleases God.

Most people work because they have to. They need food, clothes, and a roof over their heads to survive, but most people don’t stop there. They fill their needs, and then they want. They want more, and more, and more. Never giving a thought to those who are less fortunate, they spend lavishly on themselves only. Yet they are not satisfied because fulfilled wants do not always satisfy.

So I wonder, do the rich have an advantage over the poor? Do the poor have an advantage over the rich? Now I don’t want to minimize the destructive capability of poverty, but there are people who have very little, and who are still happy. The rich, though they have everything, can be unhappy and sometimes lead horrible lives in spite of their wealth. Why is this? It truly depends on the person’s viewpoint.

Those that are happy practice thankfulness. They’ve resolved that it is better to be content with what they have. They realize there’s no point in dwelling on what they do not have. They don’t go about thinking that they have a right to things; as if the world owes them a living. So they are grateful for what they have. It is an attitude that puts their trust in something other than themselves and their money.

When things go bad, people feel stuck in their situations because they cannot change them, and so many prefer to lash out at God. Why did He allow this to happen? Yet none of us knows the beginning from the end and therefore cannot intelligently understand all things.

Yet, He waits. He waits for us to come around and trust Him. The things that happen in our lives, they happen for a reason and yet things are not always what they appear to be. From this earth bound point of view we cannot see clearly, but we look through a glass dimly--so consider.  Can we seriously contend with Him who is mightier than us? 

We have some tools available. There is the word of God, which has survived impossible odds through the generations. Do we seek Him in its pages? He has left us His Spirit. Do we accept Him or shun His influence in our lives? He loves us and made a way to eternity for us, and He wants us to know Him on these terms. Will you seek Him? Will you embrace Him? He is waiting for you.

This post was based on Ecclesiastes 6

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  1. As I was reading through your post it struck me that many times I find myself having that sense of entitlement only to get it knocked out of me, when I realize that a) most the times when I fail, I've brought it on myself and b) that God is the only one who can get me out of that situation. Then I dust myself off, put my trust in God, and bam...I make it through. It's amazing what happens when you just have faith!

  2. You've written my life for the last two and a half years:) Rich and poor are all the same. It's where your faith is that counts to get you through the dark days. When it comes down to it, we're all the same--our bank accounts don't make a huge difference in our happiness.

  3. To tag along with what Terri is saying, your definitions of 'rich' and 'poor' come into play. You can be rich or poor in wisdom, in joy, in experiences--nothing about money. And, even in that, what is it all without a relationship with God?

    As Edom is the epitome of a nation with closed ears (complete lack of interest in accepting God), Solomon is the epitome of the man who had it all--wealth, relationships, prestige and wisdom from God that no one would know. Yet, even Solomon FELL because he turned from God.

    If we lose sight of what should be a solitary goal--that step that comes before all others, we cannot hope to know fulfillment, or anything else good.

    I do enjoy how you share Ecclesiastes!


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