For the last few years I have struggled against so many things, and usually nothing I do has turned out right. I try to do something, and somehow I always fall flat on my face. Whatever it is I want to do, find time to write my books, work on my dissertation, find a church, be a more pro-active Christian, find someone to fall in love with, with the exception of giving up drinking alcohol, has failed disastrously. It has on many occasions left me feeling down and even depressed, even though within myself I am generally an optimistic sort of bloke. That seems like a contradiction I know, and it is strange to have two sides to my character but I think many people are the same as well. We cannot wallow in misery, it doesn’t do any real good but sometimes we have to accept that life doesn’t always go to plan, or in my case it rarely if ever goes to plan.
So, what’s it all about? It all must amount to something, right, or what’s the point of anything if nothing means anything after all? It’s all just pissing against the wind, and no matter what we do good or bad has any real meaning anyway. We are told in the Bible that God wants us to have peace, joy, happiness, contentment and abundant living among many other good things, and yet life, all life is suffering, all life is pain and all life is sadness, or seems to be at times. We are born innocent and free into the world, and somehow we are stained from the world and all its evil and vices, all its temptations and complications, by all its contradictions and angriness. When all the stories we are told as kids are about being kind and respectful, being considerate and caring, and that when we are, nice things will happen to us, we grow up and realise it was a load of crap quite frankly. We see plainly in the world that greed, selfishness, corruption and a lack of morals and compassion takes a person far further than a nice person with all these qualities, and that nice people get walked over and are often side-lined and ignored. And of course when we are sometimes angry, confused and even not happy from time to time, we have to pretend otherwise don’t we, I know I do all the time. Someone asks ‘how are you’ even just in politeness, and we repeat almost by default ‘oh fine’ even when we might be anything but. But who wants to put their condition or suffering on someone else, or get someone offering well-meaning but often trite and unhelpful advice. And we don’t to upset even our families or close friends do we, no matter what hell or suffering we might be going through?
What’s the answer, if there is any that is? ‘Wisely I have applied myself to investigation and exploration of everything that happens under heaven. What a wearisome task God has given humanity to keep us busy! I have seen everything that is done under the sun: how futile it all is, mere chasing after the wind!’ (Ecclesiastes 1:13-14 NJB) Even the writer here, whoever he (or she) was, seems to be fed up with everything, fed up with anything and if not in outright despair is just questioning everything and dismissing all human activity as somehow pointless. Obviously, whoever wrote this was feeling down or extremely cynical at the same, but it has to be said that it is at least radically honest, which is refreshing when so many people, even many Christians, seem to think that the Bible is filled with folk tales and well-meaning platitudes of all kinds. Hasn’t everyone felt like this at some point? I seem to feel like it about ten times a day, but there you go.
This society that teaches us through various means to be ambitious, individualistic, achieving and always striving may in fact be the very reason why so many of us, often in the midst of plenty, are unhappy or deeply frustrated in some way. Are these desires, these ambitions, things we really want, or are they brainwashed into us, to make us slaves to power, wealth, social status, having the ‘best’ of everything or at least slaves to the attainment of these things? And because we are slaves, or can be, to these and many other things, we can be controlled, manipulated, told that if we work hard or plan or scheme we too can join the beautiful people and live in a mansion with a swimming pool and the expensive car in the drive and the millions in the bank; if only we accept hardship and struggle and low wages for the time being. It’s all a trap, an illusion, and although I am not saying that we shouldn’t better ourselves and be ambitious for better lives, we should really think about what we do want rather than buying into something simply because it’s expected of us or just because someone else has got what we think we should want or have. It is a big mistake to covet what other people have, simply because we don’t know how they got their wealth and success and also because just because someone is wealthy and successful and has all the trappings of a materially successful life, it is no guarantee at all of being happy. Of course they could be happy as well! Don’t people like that piss you off?!
Solomon had everything in terms of worldly wealth, or it’s reputed that he did anyway, and when asked by God what he wanted, he asked for wisdom, quite wisely, and God made him the wisest man on earth and blessed him with power and vast riches too. He also had seven hundred wives and three hundred mistresses as well, so if he staggered home from the pub and was feeling, shall we say, frisky, there was always someone he could turn to for some fun! But, some men might say that one wife is enough and I am certain that many women would say the same too. I mean having one wife nagging at you would be enough for most people, but having seven hundred on your case complaining you hadn’t washed the dishes again when you’d promised to, or to not go down the pub with your mates and come home singing again and pee on the front door, or because you hadn’t put the cat out before going to bed; sheesh, any benefits of having one thousand women would soon disappear then wouldn’t they?! And as for what program to watch on the TV?! Well, I certainly think that old Solomon must have had a shed near his palace where he could get away from them all and just get some peace.
When we are going through severe emotional distress, we should ask God into the situation and spend some time looking at scripture and spend some time asking God in prayer for help. That’s all I can do at the moment anyway.