I recently was struggling with an emotion that I had tried to control with Scripture, positive thinking and all sorts of other methods with no success. I finally came to realize that the emotion I was struggling with was a need I had. I needed something that I did not have. I needed this and I was not getting it.
Why was God blocking the provision of this need in my life?
Finally in desperation one day I cried out, "Oh God, I wish I did not need this. If I did not need this, then it would not matter that the need was not filled." God responded within me by saying, "Yes, that is exactly what I want to work inside of you."
Now I want to tell you that what I was struggling with was feelings of not being appreciated or valued by those I served.
This is a genuine human need and one that others that we serve should meet. It is normal to expect appreciation and value when we serve others, yet God wanted me to release my expectation of this very normal response. He went on to teach me that whenever we face problems in life that He allows them in order to show us areas in our life where we are giving in to the 'lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or the pride of life' so that we can instead release that to receive grace.
All of us have two sides of our life, the side filled with what God has blessed us with and the side filled with what has been taken from us or denied to us. When we are hurt or unhappy, it is because something we had or thought we had is taken from us. This may be a relationship, a belonging, or trust.
We respond by looking at what was taken from us, dwelling on the hurt, rehearsing the words said or action done over and over in our mind, fixating on it. We are looking longingly on that side of life filled with what we cannot have and we become bitter and angry. We may say, "I am not bitter, I am hurt."
Being hurt is not being bitter, it is true, but hurts heal and when a reasonable time passes and you are not healed, then you have allowed that hurt to turn into bitterness and this bitterness will defile your entire life.
What are you to do?
The Scripture says that we have 'missed the grace of God'.
The grace of God is located only on the side of life that contains what we have been blessed with. We miss God's grace when we have turned our back to look on the side of life containing what we cannot have.
The more we look on what we do not have the more ungrateful we become and unable to see what we have been blessed with. We become fearful that even more will be taken from us, we worry about what might happen, we see ourselves as depleted, and we react by grasping greedily or moaning morosely. We are miserable and never seem to have a sense of peace and happiness. What can we do?
Begin focusing again on what God has blessed you with. He has blessed you abundantly.
You don't have a body of a model? Thank God! You don't have her problems either. You at least have a body and it works! Thank God!
You have lost a loved one? Thank God you still have loved ones left. Focus on them. We don't thank God because bad things happen to us, we thank God that He has left good things behind.
So what is your focus?
Next time you are depressed, angry, or in a foul mood reflect on this and you will find that you are focusing on the wrong side of life.
Wanda Hackett has been leading children's ministries for over 40 years in churches throughout the States and Canada. She has a strong passion to see children experience Jesus Christ on their level – in a very living and relevant way. She has written numerous Children's church curricula, some of which has been translated into Croatian! She has three children – who are all in full-time ministry – and nine grandchildren.
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