As I write, there is international tension over the alleged use of chemical weapons by the President of Syria against his own people, in a civil war that has been raging for the past two years; rival national and established regional alliances are preparing to face off about whether the US and its allies should take retaliatory action against Syria. There have also been recent reports of hundreds of Egyptians killed by the Egyptian military which only recently seized power in a military coup, as well as accounts of reprisals by members of the Muslim Brotherhood – supporters of the deposed government – against Coptic Christians. Accounts of deadly attacks upon Christians in the Nigerian north by islamic Boko Haram members have become common place. These are only a few instances – the list goes on and on.
In my last post, I opined that life is good – hard, sometimes but good all the same. In light of such tragic events, one response to my earlier statement might be “Are you serious?!!?”
On the face of it admittedly, this statement seems on the level of the notorious “let them eat cake” retort. Certainly Syrians, Egyptians, Nigerians – anyone – living in such deadly peril must hate their circumstances and long for safety. Clearly for them, life is not a bed of roses. Surely it is naive, insular, or worse – stunningly unempathetic – to suggest that life can be remotely good for people in such circumstamces? Perhaps it makes you want to ask in reply, how horrific must the circumstances be, before this blithe overgeneralization is abandoned?
The question necessarily becomes whether there are exceptions to this irritatingly sweeping statement.
So, lets unpack this statement. What might a person mean when they say, ‘life is good‘?
A casually repeated slogan seen on T-shirts or whitegoods advertising? Though pleasantly evocative, I think not (in these circumstances).
So, less fatuously, the statement could be the statement of a person who simply loves her life – for whatever reason – and feels that it is good to be alive. Here we are dealing with an expression of deep satisfaction, an articulation of delight. Alternatively still, it could be the statement of a person whose circumsances are dominated by pleasant, even enjoyable experiences. A person who feels he is consistently favored by circumstances in his interactions with others. Such a person would also not find it hard to say that life is good. Such people are truly blessed to be able to enjoy life so easily.
For others, it is not that simple. For some, despite having seemingly everything they could ever wish for, life is a burden that seems too heavy to bear, and the temptation to end it all is hard to resist. For others, life seems an unending trial of dissapointing if not awful experiences – pleasant circumstances are far and few between. Still others feel far from favored, feeling they labor under a heavy burden of disfavor – things mostly seem to take a turn for the worse, or depressed, they feel as though their worst fears are routinely realized.
It is true that our perception is affected by our basic disposition – the person who tends to be ungrateful, always comparing what she has with what others have received – not infrequently a pessimist – is likely to feel that her circumstances are not so great, when in fact things are not so bad at all. The optimist in contrast is always looking to the bright side, believing that there is always hope, because tomorrow will be a better day.
There is a good number of people, however, for whom the negative side is a grim daily reality . So, is life good when things really are difficult as they seem?
Ultimately, y0ur beliefs and your perspective are key. What beliefs color your perspective?’ Ask yourself:
– do I know God, or do I just know about Him?
– do I believe that God has caused His word, His rules, His requirements to be written and made accessible to me (the Bible), and if so, do I believe that the Bible is reliable and to be obeyed?
– do I know God’s word – am I familiar with the Bible – or have I merely heard (possibly inaccurate things) about it?
In short, if I have a trusting intimate relationship with God (know Him), if I believe that He inspired the Bible and that it consists of His deliberate words (trust) , if I believe that as God, He must have been able to ensure that the books of the bible are accurate and timeless (confidence), THEN I am set up to be able to see that life is good, whatever may come my way.
If you do not have a vibrant, personal relationship with God, God invites you to seek Him, to commence a real, hope giving relationship with Him. It may be that you did once, but you wandered away, distracted by the good things of life; perhaps its more that you have been discouraged by your trials and dissapointments – or maybe it is the state of our world, what is happening in your country, your state, your town or even your home right now that makes you not want to believe in a loving, in charge God.
Whatever you may be confronted with right now, know this: if God said it, it can only be true. He promises that he has a good plan for you individually. His plan is to bless you, to take your choices and weave them into the incredible tapestry of his good will for your life. Your life, whether blessed or baffling, comfortable or conflicted, is a deliberate journey, a dress rehersal for eternity.
If I know God, if I have trust and confidence in Him, then I will be able to take God at his word, and I will be able to believe that what He said is true. I will be able to see that life is as He said – good, regardless of my circumstances.
Despite the obstacles and trials that I may face daily, I will be able to feel that it is a good thing to be alive. In fact, I will be grateful that I am (still) alive. I will be able to enjoy the hope of blessing and favor that each day will brings as long as I live.
(originally posted 09/01/2013; 1053 words