I hate my life…

Hate LifeI received this text a few weeks back. “Jon, I’m so tired of my life. I hate it. I try so hard and nothing ever seems to change.”  I tried to encourage him and we set up a time to meet, but he’s right, it’s pretty bad for him right now.

Maybe that sounds familiar? Is your life messy?  Is it mediocre at best? Maybe it’s not even mediocre, it just downright sucks. Being in ministry, I encounter a lot of people that are hurting. Genuine people. They aren’t faking it, they really hate their life.

I came across a secular article about people that hate their lives.  But it wasn’t the article that caught my eye, it was the comments at the bottom of the page that struck me.

“None of my problems can be solved. I haven’t had friends in years, I never talk to anyone and nobody cares. I tried getting help; I know I have social anxiety.”

“I’m 20, in a job that I hate, never had a proper boyfriend or friends and I just wish I was pretty. Just hate everything.”

“My mom never cares about me, she has depression and all she does is sleep in until 1pm and get drunk and ignores her three children, I always help out, like cleaning etc. And I have no friends, I feel so alone.”

“i’m only in the the 5th grade and i hate my life my mom said that i should be happy, i hardly am… i have never met my brother also i have suicidal thoughts”

My heart was broken when I read these posts.  I know life can be very hard and exceedingly painful. I never pretend to put myself in other peoples shoes and claim to know how they feel.  They have pain, it’s real and I hurt for them.  But so does somebody else.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1

That verse seems so glib, right?  God will rescue you.  God will strengthen you.  God is always ready to jump in and save the day… Blah, Blah, Blah… And yet verses like this seem to be missing something. We scream, “Why don’t they apply to me?” They do, they really do.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses had just led the Israelite people out of bondage in Egypt and were headed towards the promised land. It’s literally less than a 2 week journey.  But along the way, the Israelites messed up and were stuck for 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  They could literally taste the promised land (you know, the land flowing with milk and honey), but their disobedience and lack of faith kept them from entering in, at least for the time being. They would later make their way into the land.

As the Israelites stumbled to the doorway of the promised land, Moses left them with a few instructions.  The most significant was found in Deuteronomy 6:5;

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all recorded Jesus repeating this verse. He stated that this is the most important commandment of them all.  As a matter of fact, He said that all of the laws and the prophets teachings were summarized in this one law.  “So how does this make me feel better Jon?”  It may not, at least not yet.

My kids are awesome.  They love their dad and I love them.  They listen to me most of the time.  But then there are those other times when they think (they know) they are right.  I always love when they come back and say, “Dad, I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you.”  It’s not that I gloat, it’s that they get it.  I love when they get it!  And God loves when we get it too.

Friends, can I be honest with you? Some of you just don’t get it.  You really don’t.  You tell yourself things like;

  • “If only ‘this’ would happen, then things would be better.”
  • “If only he or she would change, then I’d be happy.”
  • “If only I got that promotion at work, my life would be complete.”

The “If only’s” are endless, but the problem isn’t our circumstances, it’s our heart.  We want to feel better, we want our circumstances to change, but for some reason, we don’t feel the need to check our heart or our actions.

So what does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength? It means we have to play our part.  We can’t just sit back and wait for God to do His “thing,” we have to do our thing too.

And a quick side note, our motivation behind why we do our thing is just as important as our doing it.  In other words, if I find myself being religious in order for my life to get better, I’ll find myself wandering in the wilderness another 40 years.  God wants my motivation to be out of a love for Him, period! I give, not to receive, but to give to a God that loves me.  I go to church, not because I’m afraid God will punish me if I don’t, but I go because I love spending time with God.  My motivation, your motivation, is equally important in our actions.

So what does it mean to do my thing?  It means I have a part to play in the outcome of my life.  It means you have a major role in how your life pans out.  I hear people cry out that their life if terrible, but they bow their heads when I ask them questions like;

  • “Do you spend time reading your bible every day?”
  • “How often do you just sit and talk with God?”
  • “Are you faithful in giving an offering each week at church?”
  • “Do you go to church on the weekends consistently?”
  • “When is the last time you served at church?”
  • “Are you part of a community group during the week?”
  • “Do you spend time with your spouse, kids, family or friends each week, studying God’s word and discussing how it applies to your life?”
  • “Are the people you surround yourself with giving you Godly counsel, or do they just say the things you want to hear?”

Most of the time, their answers go something like this, “No, not often, not really, I know I should, maybe a month ago, I tried to but it didn’t work out for me…”  I hear a lot of excuses from one side of their mouth, while I hear a lot of complaining out of the other side.  And I know this can come off as really harsh, but it’s truth friends.  If your life is falling apart, it probably has more to do with your lack of love for God than it does your circumstances.  It’s just easier to blame it on an unfair life rather than on ourself.

Are you tired of wandering in the wilderness?  A better question might be, are you ready to go into the promised land? The Israelites didn’t want to listen to God, so they spent a generation, 40 years, wandering aimlessly in life. That’s not God’s plan for me or for you. His plan is for us to enter into His promise of a good life. God loves you. He sees your painful situation and wants to meet you in your plight. But He wants you to move too!  It’s a partnership. It’s obedience. God is walking towards you, but He’s looking for you to turn towards Him. It’s only when you make that firm commitment to love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul and ALL your strength that things will begin to turn around for you.  God promises to take care of you; He’d love to hear you say, “Dad, I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you.”  Now start walking with Him.

#sandalschurch #ROGO #ihatemylife

You better watch yourself, I’m tired of your…

unhealthy-relationshipIt’s just too easy to go off on people these days.

  • Your spouse pisses you off with attitude.
  • A friend gives you the eye.
  • Your co-worker makes a sly comment about you that passes within earshot.

In any case, you get all fired up for what I believe is all the wrong reasons…

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. ~ Ephesians 6:12

Jesus said some radical things like “turn the other cheek” and “give them your shirt too.”  Of course this is right after they were smacked on the other side of their face and had their coat stolen moments before.  Seems harsh, but I think Jesus is getting at something really big here that quite frankly, none of us like to take a hard look at.  The truth of that matter is that sometimes really hurtful things happen to us and our natural reaction is to spew the same poison that we were just splattered with.

But the real issue isn’t the issue, it’s what’s behind the issue.

Have you ever stopped to think why the person did what they did? Has there been any real thought as to the motivation behind their attack? The Word of God tells us pretty clearly that our enemy isn’t who we think it is, our enemy is a dark and evil power commonly known as the devil, Satan, the great deceiver and many, many other “wonderful” names.  He is the real problem, not what you “think” is the problem.  And we certainly do have to attack back, but it’s how we attack and who we attack that might be different.

The bible teaches us to pray for our enemies, love those that aren’t really lovable, and even reach a hand out to those that just hurt you. Yes, it’s radical, but Jesus was radical.  He never asks us to do something that won’t produce great results.

But Jon, how can I love someone that’s just hurt me?  How can I “turn the other cheek” so to speak?  That doesn’t even make sense.  I totally get what you’re saying and what I’m NOT saying is to be a door matt or a punching bag.  Being in an abusive relationship is not healthy for anyone, but that’s not my focus here.  There are day to day relational issues that are really painful that Jesus wants us to take a back seat to.  He tells us that if we show greater love than the hatred we’ve endured, that love has a much better chance of winning in the long run.  It’s love that changes people, not returned hatred.

Want to be radical? Want to be different than just about everyone you know? Then love people, even when they don’t deserve it. Allow yourself to be humbled and to not always try to get even. Get to prayin! Take a knee. Make the person who’s hurt you the object of your affection. This will cause the real enemy to flee your situation.  Your love will push the devil right out of your dilemma.  The most amazing thing? It will change you into a deeper and more loving follower of Jesus! #sandalschurch #ROGO #loveoverhatred #turntheothercheek