When Nothing Seems to Go Right

frustrated-male-studentI’ve had more than my share of days where nothing seemed to go right. I have a restless night trying to sleep. I spill my coffee at breakfast. I lock my keys in the house. Now I’m running late and look at the dashboard to see that I’m dangerously low on gas. I discover a hole in my pants after I get to the office. I get a message from the bank that I bounced a check. Everything I say to people seems to get a negative reaction. The day has constant interruptions so that I feel I get nothing accomplished. I get home at the end of the day only to discover a mailbox full of bills and a refrigerator empty of food.

Those days are not typical. Most days go along reasonably well. There are unforeseen incidents and unexpected interruptions to be sure, but all in all the days go along without too much turmoil or distress. I realize that I am blessed in so many ways. I live in a country that is not in a constant state of war. I have freedoms and opportunities that most people in the world cannot even imagine. I have access to clean water and safe food. I can keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. My family and I are in reasonably good health. When I look at the big picture, I can’t complain… but sometimes I still do.

From my childhood I remember a sign that sat prominently on the desk in the pastor’s office. It read, “kwitcherbelliakin.” For the longest time I had no idea what it meant, but it caught my attention. At some point the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head, and I got it’s meaning: “Quit your belly-aching.” In other words, it was a not-so-subtle reminder to stop whining about life.

I’m a little older now and I’ve learned a few things. Among the things I have learned is this: Life is not fair. If you expect life to be fair, you will be disappointed constantly. It is a lesson we tried to teach our children early on and a lesson of which I have to continually remind myself in order to remain calm and sane in a world that is off-kilter and messed up in many ways.

Being somewhat connected to people through social media, I get to read the things make people happy, the things with which people are fixated at the moment, and the things about which people complain. I see a lot of all three, but the one that is most irritating are the complaints about the inherent unfairness of life. It runs the gamut from relationships to jobs to school to work to politics. I think I understand why that pastor many years ago boldly displayed the kwitcherbelliakin sign on his desk!

I’m not saying that we should just “grin and bear it.” I’m not saying we should all put on a happy face and pretend that life is problem-free. I would recommend, however, the age-old remedy of taking time to count your blessings as a means of putting life in perspective.

In my quiet time this morning, the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk reminded me of an important truth: Even in the unfairness of life, I am responsible for my attitude. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

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