Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Choose to be happy...

The Workout

Normally, I take the day after a 20 mile run off, and I almost did so today...accidentally.

It's another unseasonably warm day here in Arkansas, really nice weather and I decided early to take advantage and wash our poor filthy vehicles. I got home from church around one or so, ate a quick lunch, and saw the NFC championship game started at 2:00. So I changed, set the DVR, and headed outside to scrub our rides clean.

I worked as quickly as I could and finished about 45 minutes after the game started. That worked out well, because it allowed me to skip through commercials and half time. But, about 4:00 it dawned on me that I'd failed to log a workout today. No workout would mean I fail the Janathon challenge to workout and blog about it every day, all month.

So I slipped on some shoes and rolled the bike out of the garage.

Now, I'm no fancy biker. My bike is just a $100 Wal Mart mountain bike. No frills, nothing much more than a frame on two wheels. But, it works to give me something to do when I don't need to run. So quick 5 miles out and 5 miles back gave me my workout for the day.

I'm still on the Janathon wagon!

The Message

Today it wasn't so much the workout that led me the day's message, but everything that happened as the day progressed, everything I saw and everything I thought.

Our Sunday school lesson today was about the promise of God's judgment, addressing specifically those who seem to have everything going for them here on earth while living an ungodly lifestyle. The preacher's sermon was titled, "Whose fault is it?" It was a message on personal responsibility, stating plainly that if we find ourselves in a miserable, rotten state, it's because of our choices. We live in a world that wants to name a syndrome as the cause for any person's bad choices, but the fact is people who make bad choices do so of their own free will.

I agree with that. People who make bad choices do HAVE a choice, and they chose wrong! But what about people who suffer things that truly aren't their fault? What about the person diagnosed with cancer who never smoked or did anything else to increase his risk? What about the lady driving down the road who gets hit and paralyzed by the drunk driver? What about the guy whose company laid him off just before he was to retire and draw his pension? What about the parents who lost a child? The preacher's message is hard to swallow for these folks, unless you dig a little deeper.
" 1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." -- John 9:1-3

It's not necessarily that everything that happens to us is because of what we've done. Our suffering here on earth isn't always a result of choices we've made, or a punishment for sins we've committed. But everything that we go through here on earth is a chance for God to be glorified.

Sometimes, it's not what we're suffering that's our responsibility, but how we choose to react to that suffering. We can choose to be miserable, focus on the bad thing that happens and resent it. Or, we can choose to focus on what good there is in our lives and be happy for the blessings we have. Whether we're rich or poor, healthy or not, with or without something or someone important to us, we choose how we react to that condition, whether to be happy or sad, grateful or resentful.

But does that mean God sits around thinking up bad things to do to us so He might receive glory from it? No.
"When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;" -- James 1:13

God doesn't do evil. If something evil is vexing you, it's not the work of God, but the work of Satan. I've written before that the devil is the one who afflicts us as he did Job in the hopes of drawing us away from God. I've told you before of the church sign I passed for weeks when I was going through a particularly hard time that read, "When Christians serve, Satan attacks!"

Lucifer knows that it's easy to praise and honor God when things are good, when everything's going our way. He also knows that, if our faith isn't genuine, we'll turn on God when things go bad. So we have a choice.

When the devil attacks, when things don't go your way, when bad things happen to you for no apparent reason, how will you react? Will you accept responsibility and be grateful for what blessings you have? Or will you choose resentment and misery?
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." -- Romans 8:18

After Amanda was murdered, and with all the bad things we've dealt with since, I had a choice to make too. Would I turn to God, or turn away?

If I'd turned away, right now I would be totally miserable, focused on all I'd lost. Instead, by turning to God, by studying His Word for answers and guidance, I've come to understand that none of us are guaranteed happiness and joy and blessings from things of this world. Therefore, we have to be grateful for what we have, or had, while we have it, or that we had it.

I don't curse God for every day I don't have Amanda. Everyday I thank God for the time He gave me with her. I'm not angry at God that my younger daughter has cut herself off from our family. I'm grateful for the time I had with her. I choose to focus on the good and not the bad.

Yes. Our condition is our responsibility, our personal responsibility. Not necessarily what happens to us, but what we do with what happens. We're not promised good things on this earth, but beyond. If we place our faith and hope in Jesus Christ, accept Him as our Savior, there will come a day with no more pain, no more suffering, no more death, and no more evil.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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