Finding Joy in Life’s Mixed Bag

Life’s a mixed bag, no doubt about it. This creates a dilemma for us; how can we find any joy in life when a part of our life is anything but joyful?

Maybe it’s the big “C” word, cancer, that seems to have been shouted into an otherwise quiet life. Perhaps it’s financial distress that distracts from seeing the wealth of good that still exists around us. A recent major failure can keep us transfixed on the past, preventing us from looking forward with hope. There may be a family member who’s going though some dark experience, the long shadows of which takes the vibrant color out of our own life; we feel guilty for any pleasure that does come our way when our loved one is in such pain. We even experience life as a mixed bag when reading or watching tragic news via some media source while sipping a cup of coffee or eating a bowl of ice cream.

Embracing the good that’s in life while at the same time experiencing the bad and tragic of life is tough. Searching the Bible for perspective, I found three approaches to dealing with life as a mixed bag of good and bad. There may be more, but I’m working on these three.

DO WHAT WE CAN! We can’t do everything, but God calls us to do what we can, whether it’s taking just a small, but positive, step with our own problem or helping someone with theirs. When it comes to others it may mean something as simple as providing a meal for the hurting family next door or making a donation to the Red Cross to help others across the country. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16)

PRAY! Praying for our own needs and problems and for others for whom our hearts hurt unleashes God’s good actions in this fallen, hurting world. Believing this, we can take our burdens to the Lord and leave them with Him! “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

GIVE THANKS. Giving thanks that God can help us with our trouble and the troubled person for whom we’re concerned is helpful. Also helpful is giving thanks for all the good that still is all around us. Practicing thanksgiving helps us see beyond burdens to blessings! “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Yes, life’s a mixed bag. God is aware of the mixed contents and has His plans for it all!

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