For some strange reason I have a weird way of looking at things. Good things happen. Bad things happen. Really ugly things happen. I find myself thinking – this could have been worse.
Does everyone think like this? I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I see people around me that are stuck in a quick sand of bad circumstances that have bullied them and beaten them down – until they are a mere shadow of their former selves. Somehow they have not been able to rise above the negative, hurt and sadness in their lives.
Jeremiah 29:11 says:
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This in itself should give us that ability to “press on” even in times of unusual stress and bad times. But sadly, I know it is not.
When something bad happens to me my first response is not, “Thank you, Lord – I see this is going to hurt but I also know you’re going to teach me something through this” Not at all! But I have found that much later it helps to practice this one thing: I have allowed my thoughts to go to a place that could have been worse. There is always something worse.
I fell the other day. My own stupidity. Tripped over a carpet end after trying to go over a puppy gate. I got my one foot caught on the end of the carpet and the other foot did not make it over the gate. I hung for a moment suspended in an awkward straddled position and then gravity propelled me forward and on to an oak side table. The momentum was so great that the side table actually broke as I fell on it. Can you say, “Ouch”? Needless to say my side that hit and broke the table was VERY sore and badly bruised. My foot that was caught in the rug, twisted as I fell – another “Ouch” – and I had several other bruises on my arm and hand. Oh I still have the visual reminders of my fall – and probably will have them for a while. A bruise is still a bruise after all – and it still hurts.
But oddly enough, as in other unfortunate circumstances that have come my way (and plenty of them) – I have started allowing my thoughts to take me to a place of “what-ifs” instead of just “Oh-Nos!” You know that place. The place that is “better” or “worse” depending on how you look at it. It’s more than just a “glass half empty or full” it’s a place of real discovery. The discovery is in how I choose to be defined by what happens to me.
I always try to choose blessing and see God’s protection on my life. Even in the bad things that come my way. Even in the bad fall. Here’s what I thought: “This could have been so much worse. If I had been older, had less padding and my bones had been more brittle, I surely would have broken my hip or cracked a rib. I would have not just twisted and bruised my foot – I would have badly sprained or broken it. The blessing is that I only have bad bruises and a little limp while I recover but this too shall pass.
I remember an ugly thing that happened years ago now – as I tried to help another person and got too emotionally involved. Even then, God was protecting me. That person ended up betraying all my kindness and the friendship, accusing me of some ugly things. It could have gone down a much more dangerous and ugly road if I hadn’t realized first I needed to say goodbye. But as it turned out – God used that person to turn things around, force me to become wiser about who to discuss things with and confide in. And even though that hard lesson cost me that friendship – I have not stopped being kind and helpful. I still reach out and want to help people. I know it could have been worse. Much worse.
Maybe you have an issue or circumstance that is weighing you down. You can’t see anything positive about it. You feel like it’s the worst experience of your life. You don’t see any way out. Here’s a thought for you today:
Look at the blessings and protection from God on your life so far. Think of how things might have been worse if left entirely up to you. Try to think of ways that God has truly intervened on your behalf. Are there things in your story that are more than just coincidence? Can someone benefit from your story of God’s grace in your life? Are you able to still be positive and joyful even through your pain and trials? Can you see any way that others might learn a life lesson from you? Can you look through a different “God lens” and see how things could have been worse?
I am praying for you today.