You matter in this life. You are not an accident. Your parents may not have wanted you, your friends may not be very friendly towards you, maybe even your spouse is not keen on you but the truth is, God wanted you. God is recorded as saying “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”. So, He says, he has known you all your life. You may not have known or cared about Him but he has been there watching you and caring for you all along.
You may be a nobody but you are not a nothing!! And you never have been in His eyes. You have mattered even when you were at your worst.
You were designed to be YOU.
We also know God designed you to be you. Only you could play the part he had in mind for you. He gave you abilities, a particular personality and has given you understanding and wisdom. He allowed circumstances – good or bad – to shape you to be the person He needed you to be. Of course, there have been time you probably wished things were different. None of us enjoy pain and troubles in our lives, but when you look back on your life, I guarantee you will find the times of trouble are the times when you changed the most – the times when you got a little more wise, a little more cautious and less reckless about things and obtained a lot more knowledge about how life works.
One mistakes we make.
But it’s not all good news. There are two mistakes that you can make regarding the problems we face. One is to think all the good things that happen to me, prove I’m good, and that all the bad things that happen to me prove I’m bad. That’s absolutely wrong! Jesus was once talking about two tragedies that happened to people in His day. He was told about one where a group of innocent people were worshipping at a temple and soldiers came in and they were brutally slaughtered. He added that there was a tower that fell on eighteen people and killed them all. Then He posed the question, “Was it a result of the wrong things they had done?” (You can find this story in Luke 13.)
It seems to me we could ask that question every day of our lives. Everyday there seems to be yet another tragedy or terrorist attack somewhere in the world. It sounds like Jesus day was similar to our day!
Jesus answered His own question. He said, it was absolutely NOT a result of the victims mistakes! And He asked if their mistakes were any worse than anybody else who lived in Jerusalem that day including those who were listening to Him. So, if it’s not true that all the bad things that happen to us, are a result of our own mistakes, doesn’t that negate the cause and effect link that we all default to?
The truth is, there are problems we have in life are our fault. If we smoke all our life, then, we shouldn’t be surprised if we get lung cancer. We do reap what we sow, but not everything we reap, was sown by us. Sometimes others sow trouble and we reap what they have sown. Sometimes the breakdown of a relationship is a two way street and although you may have partly contributed to it, it was not a major part of what happened that you are reaping. So sometimes we suffer innocently, sometimes we have contributed to our suffering and sometimes it’s totally down to us – but don’t assume it always is.
The second mistake, is to blame God for the troubles in our life. I have often heard people in trouble say “I really don’t know what I’ve done”. In other words there is a God who is keeping score and he has set the rules of life such that if we break a rule he will bring punishment. But the problem is not everything that happens in life is God’s will. When I hear people talking about a bushfire and they say, “Well, it must have been God’s will”, I cringe. There is a spiritual term for that – “RUBBISH!”. Because it’s just not true! Don’t blame God for the disasters that happen to you.
If you have ever heard the Lords prayer (sometimes called “Our Father”) that Jesus told us to pray, you will know it contains the phrase “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. It seems strange that Jesus would teach us to pray that way, if Gods will was always done! I believe, in many cases, God is grieving over what’s happened too. So, God’s will is not always done.
So what do we do when troubles come our way?
The first thing is to cut ourselves some slack and allow ourselves to grieve over whatever loss we have suffered. Sometimes that grief will be short term, but mostly it will be a year or two before we can settle things in our minds. And grief can sneak up on you. Sometimes we grieve over big things and sometimes smaller things effect us in ways we cannot imagine before hand. So, be easy on yourself. Give yourself time to grieve and then give yourself a little bit longer than you thought you needed.
Talk to someone.
And if you are a bloke who is grieving, find someone to talk to. You may think it’s a sign of weakness, but the truth is, it is a sign of strength. If you are willing to put your hand up and say I need help, you are showing your courage to step out and make a change. And you can usually find a way forward. If you don’t put your hand up, nothing will change. You may stay stuck in mud and get angrier with yourself for not being able to get over it.
Of course, many people wont understand what you are going through. If they do – its a bonus. But even if they don’t understand or give you the nonsense advice to “just get over it,” at least you will have been able to talk through your loss for your own sake and to think through it in your own mind as you were talking about it. The more you talk to people about things you are going through, the clearer it becomes in your mind – regardless of their reaction – and the sooner you are able to process it.
The second thing which is related to the first thing is that you must be willing to receive help from others. It is a big mistake to isolate yourself from others when you’re going through a crisis. Usually that’s what I want to do! I want to get all by myself; and tell myself “nobody understands my problem.” But we need other people in a tragedy. We need their perspective, we need their support, we need their encouragement, but mostly we just need their presence. They probably wont know what you need to do about your circumstances but you need them to be there with you. It’s very lonely without people in your life.
Of course, occasionally those closest to you have been part of the problem, so a good place to start is to apologise for your part in the problem and see where that goes. Just be careful that your apology is only about the part you played because anything else will be seen as an attack on them. And think it through before you open your mouth. There will always be some part you played – even if you think it’s almost entirely their fault. You never know your steps towards them may begin the healing of the breakdown and may begin the restoration process.
Counselling can be helpful
And don’t be afraid to seek counselling. I have a good friend who is a counsellor and she has an ability to clarify the situation people are going through so they can see through the mud they feel is pulling them down. So even if that’s all they offer you it will help you move on in the healing process. It is always good for you to have an outside perspective on your problems instead of finding yourself stuck.
So Move on.
Just so you don’t miss the point of this, let me repeat the truth is God is in love with you. Even if no-one else is and even if you are having a hard time seeing yourself as worthwhile, God sees you as important and your life as making a meaningful contribution to the world. If you have a bible app search for the words “unfailing love” and you will be surprised that the bible says around 58 times that God has unfailing love towards us. He must be serious about us if he says that so often!