Monday, March 31, 2008

My Given Lot

Just about everyone has, at times, wished for a major change in life: to be taller, or smarter, or richer, or more athletic, or just to have been born into circumstances where opportunities are easier to find. Some people make a career of such thinking, wasting their lives either in idle dreaming or in "nothing ever goes right for me" bitterness.

Christians unfortunately are not immune. Sometimes our "prayers" resemble the Israelites' wilderness whining: "God, why did You make me like this?" "Lord, if You really love me, why is my life so miserable?" "God, I'm sick of this situation, and if You won't do something about it, I will!" Some of these attitudes spring from legitimate prayers that were poisoned (perhaps over the long term) by self-centeredness that stated "Your will be done" without recognizing its secret "as long as it coincides reasonably well with mine" reservations; by impatience that demanded a "Yes" answer, or at least an explanation, ASAP; or by presumption that thought it knew what God was going to do and became angry when He didn't "cooperate."

When God doesn't change a hard situation, it's usually because He knows we can grow more, or accomplish more, through struggling with it. With it, notice, not with Him! How long would an athlete's career last if he regularly forfeited matches because he spent all his energy arguing with his coach over "getting stuck with the wrong opponents"? How long could a soldier avoid a court-martial if he raised a fuss with his commanding officer over being assigned to the wrong front? Yet many of us treat God as though He were the enemy, and at the same time sap our strength for the important battles, by constantly whining over our lots in life.

This doesn't mean, of course, that we should never pray for things to change, nor even that we shouldn't "wrestle with God" in hard and persistent prayer. What it does mean is that He, not we, has final right to decide exactly how everything works out.

Including the more frustrating circumstances.

There are those who use the hard times of life
As excuse to not even try;
There are those who sit and bemoan their fates,
Never acting when they can cry;
There are those who rail that life's unfair
And who envy the rich and grand:
But let me take what the Dealer gives
With the courage to play my hand.

For no life was ever devoid of pain,
Nor the spoiled the most satisfied;
And the happiest souls work to do their best
With their eyes on the One True Guide.
Though my way may lead over rocky paths
And my gear for the climb be small,
Let me make the most of my given lot
With a heart for the good of all.

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