We like to think that we are in the right. Even when we think thoughts or entertain positions which are questionable we, more often than not, are able to convince ourselves that the position we take or the things we say really are true. When we take up a cause, we do so because we are convinced that it is the right thing to do. Since we are right it follows that other people should agree with us, they should share the same opinions and endorse the same things we do. If someone does not agree with us it means that he is wrong, is misinformed or, perhaps, is even our enemy.
There are a great many different kinds of terrain and landscapes in this earth in which we live. In one place are rolling grasslands. In another there are snow-capped mountains. Still other places boast forests or broad rivers. Lakes capture the deep blue of the sky. Still waters mirror the sunlight, moonlight and starlight. At times the skies are crystal-clear; at others they are filled with swirling clouds. Seashore or desert, hill or valley, there is something which all places on earth have in common. Each place, has a beauty all its own. Each type of terrain or sky is magnificent in its own way.
When God created the universe, He looked at all He had made and proclaimed that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). God’s pronouncement included mankind. Man lived in perfect harmony with nature. It was no struggle to raise food to eat. The earth produced bountifully without great effort. Man also had nothing to fear from the wild animals. There was no competition between them. They shared their environment in perfect harmony.
Have you ever been in a room that was totally dark? Perhaps you woke in the night when the electricity was off. No stars or moonlight showed through the window. Even though it was your own room and you were perfectly familiar with the arrangement of the furniture, you still were afraid to move about lest you trip and fall over something you could not see.
As frightening as it may be to not be able to see anything within your own home, at least you know where you are. You are in a familiar room. Your house has not moved. But suppose you were in a ship on a dark night. You do not know where you are except that you are close to the coast. You can only see a few feet and the howling wind is driving you along. For all you know, you may be moments from being dashed against a rock you cannot see.
There is a saying that good things come in small packages. There is some truth to this. Often it is the little things which make life pleasant. A kind word, the laugh of a child, the sound of someone singing, a ray of sunshine peeking from behind a cloud – all these things can lift the heart and bring a smile to our lips. A friendly touch, a note of appreciation, the greeting of a neighbor can lighten our entire day.
Suppose that you hosted a huge, elaborate and expensive party for no reason but to show your love and appreciation for your friends and family. What would your reaction be if none of the people you invited came? Suppose that that instead of thanking you for your invitation your friends and relatives responded with insults and abused the messengers you sent to deliver the invitation? Would you not feel disappointed? Would you not feel that they had betrayed your friendship? Would you not be angry? Would you not wish to take revenge?
It is easy to complain. In fact, most of us are rather good at it. If something happens which we don’t like we usually have a few choice words to say about it.
Conversely, we tend to take our blessings for granted. Instead of being grateful for the good things we have and the good things which happen to us, we think of them as something we deserve. In turn, this kind of thinking kills gratitude. Who is thankful for things which are his by right?
Do you ever find it difficult to forgive someone? If we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that sometimes it is hard to forgive.
One situation in which it is hard to forgive is when the person has a whole history of doing things which hurt us. It is not so much what he has done – in fact it may be quite trivial. But the reason we find it hard to forgive is that there seems to be little improvement. He has repeatedly done the same thing in the past. He has recognized his fault. His sorrow and regret for what he has done seems genuine. He has asked for our forgiveness. We have forgiven him time after time – only to have him do the same thing again. Each time it becomes a little harder to forgive because we start to wonder about his sincerity. And, even if he is sincere in his repentance, how many times are we to forgive?
At times life can be very difficult. Trouble can come in many different forms and from many different directions. Nor do troubles always come one at a time. It can seem that everything and everyone is conspiring against us at the same time. In the case of the prophet Job, his children died, he lost all his possessions, his wife told him to curse God and die, his health failed and his friends made false accusations against him.
For many of us life is very busy. Our days are filled with activities. It seems that there is no time to do everything which must be done. It is very easy to fall behind.
Not only that, but it seems that life is getting much faster than it used to be. In previous generations, if we needed to speak with someone we had to go to their house or their place of business. Now we communicate at the speed of light over the telephone, email or the Internet. Similarly, in many cases we no longer have to wait if we wish to obtain something. We can often get what we want – whether it is information or a product of some sort – by going online.
Sometimes we become so busy living life that we forget what the purpose of life is. We forget that life isn’t about things. We forget that we need time for contemplation. Instead, we wear ourselves out dashing from one activity to another or madly scrambling to get yet another thing.