I have a long litany of lost loves, women that I really liked but for one reason or another, perhaps because I was too shy, never plucked the courage up to ‘chat them up’ and make a move on them, and so here I am again on my own going down the only road I’ve ever known… well, you might know the story. Life sometimes seems full of disappointments, inevitable situations that somehow steal our joy or make us feel that we only deserve third best, or somehow we are destined for one unfortunate thing after another. It seems so many Christians are going through trials and tribulations, and although we all know the mantra and we console ourselves with the fact that Christians will indeed suffer in this fallen and imperfect world, sometimes we get fed up with it all, we get worn out because we see no end in sight of it; then we can do one of two things: we can stick it out and lean on God, or we can drift off into the wilderness looking for something that will take our mind off our troubles.
One thing I have learnt being a Christian, and that is that we are in for the long haul, not just being a Christian when things are going well but being a Christian all the time, and not just being good and respectful of others when we feel good, but all the time, and not just being nice when we go to church but every day. I say nice, but that seems too, well, nice; perhaps I mean that we should always be considerate of other people and respect them, in the same way we hope that they are considerate of us and respect us. Of course, sometimes you might not feel like being nice at all, but we cannot take our moods out on other people for any reason. Yes it’s hard learning to turn the other cheek, or being pleasant when we don’t feel like it, but it teaches us to face the world and take whatever life throws at us and whatever happens. I don’t mean that we should always pretend to be jolly and putting a false smile on our faces, but we learn to stay on an even keel as much as possible, rather than reacting badly to everything that might be a setback or a problem.
I noticed with women, when I was in my younger days, that if you really showed any interest in a particular woman, it went down like the plague, and often such a woman couldn’t get away from me quick enough. On the other hand, if I played it cool, as I tend to do now, not out of vanity or anything like that just that I’m older and more mature I suppose, some women, even the nice ones, became interested. Problem? Yes, if I was too keen, they couldn’t get away quick enough, and if I played it cool, then I still never spoke to them! What a conundrum; why do women act this way? God alone knows! I still have many issues around this topic, you know, the whole ‘lurrve’ thing, but I also think that many people do too, both men and women. Why can we be so cruel to each other?
Why does God allow evil, and why often do unscrupulous people prosper ruthlessly at the expense of other people, and in general people who are nasty and have no conscience get what they want in life, while those more loving and conscientious and considerate often get side-lined and ignored? I think sometimes that God allows rapacious people to do bad things as a lesson to the rest of us. Why then would God allow evil? Surely if He created everything then why does evil even appear? I suppose there could be a number of answers to this. If we have free will, quite simply, we can choose to do what we like, and we can choose, in the full knowledge of knowing right from wrong, to do something wrong or we can choose to do something right. But, in the end, it is our choice. Is it God then who allows evil to enter the world, or us? We blame God when a plane falls from the sky, or when a hit-and-run driver kills a kid getting an ice cream, or when something doesn’t go right for us, when if we are honest it had nothing to do with God. The plane might not have been checked due to cost cutting, the driver might have been drinking and when it is us, well everybody has setbacks in life; all we can do is pray and have faith in God. The fact is, we can all turn a blind eye to someone else’s troubles, sorrows or suffering, or have little sympathy, until we ourselves suffer, and then of course it’s a different story altogether isn’t it?
Sorrow and suffering seems to follow us all at some time, and no one is free from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Without God, it might not make any sense, in fact it would be like wandering through a desert and going from place to place looking for shelter and water to drink, and finding none. With God in our lives, even the most meaningless and awful situation can be put into perspective. Then, we might indeed be going through a desert, but we will find shelter and water. It isn’t that God is happy to see us suffer, I think that it is just that being human, we will all suffer at some time or other. The Christian answer to the reality that we all suffer is certainly that we don’t add to anyone’s troubles, but that we should help the other person if we can. I might add, that we should not add to our own troubles either, or wallow in self-pity either; I have found in life that there is always someone worse off than me. What God wants for us as believers is perhaps that we stay on an even keel, and we learn to stay physically, emotionally and spiritually sound whatever happens to us in life, good or bad. Equilibrium. Balance. That’s what we need.