“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
When the present is hard, it’s easy to pine away for an idyllic past. Job looked back wistfully on former days. “Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me” (Job 29:2). But living in the past is no better than living in the future. What good does either do us? The past is gone, the future is not here – all we have is a today that will either be faced well or poorly. But an unhappy present has the power to swallow us up, driving us to unwise actions or crippling us with depression.
There are many things in our life that can conspire toward making us unhappy. We wonder why this or that has to be. If things were aligning the way we’d like them to we think we’d be happy. But life seldom is as we’d like it to be. The very things we thought would bring us happiness, bring us sorrow. What we imagined would be a dream come true, turns into a living nightmare. And now, everything within us wants out of our unhappy estate.
The bottom line is that both God and Satan have a way of escape for us. Satan’s way of escape always plays to our weakness. He promises us relief, but when we take his bait we only discover greater misery. God’s way of escape gives us the strength to endure the trials and temptations in our life. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) When we stop reaching to God for help in the situation, and simply want out of it, we no longer have the strength we need to endure. All we are left with is our own barking unhappiness.
A perfect life, surrounded by perfect people, can be navigated without God. But imperfection – left, right, and center – requires all the help God can gives us. He must be sought and found. Though nothing changes outside of us, He must bring the change within that we desperately need. His peace must replace our panic. His joy must replace our sorrow. His strength must replace our weakness.
Jesus did not enter a perfect world. But the evils that surrounded and pressed upon Him did not overcome Him. He became the Perfect man in His imperfect world. If He is in us, He is greater than all that is in our world. If we look to Him, we can also be an overcomer. But if we don’t, we will pine away in sorrow and anger at a world that won’t cooperate with our wishes.
“Can’t I just have a little happiness?” you ask. “Does life always have to be so hard?” All such questions are useless. The only wise question is this: “Lord, how do You want me to handle the issues at hand? Show me the way. Be my refuge and strength, and my very present help.”