Coping with life has a lot to do with perspective. One reality about the Bible that points toward its divine authorship is that it does not in any way "sugar coat" humanity and life. We are told that we human beings are not basically good people who sometimes make bad choices. Rather the Bible's view is that our hearts are "desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9) and we are born sinners (Psalm 51:5) and are "by nature children of (God's) wrath" (Ephesians 2:3). Kevin DeYoung sums up the Bible's view of humanity when he writes, "Our fundamental problem is not bad parents, bad schools, bad friends, or bad circumstances. Our fundamental problem is a bad heart. And every single one of us is born into the world with it." So as you can see, the portrait of humanity painted in the Bible is not flattering in the least! The Bible also does not speak of life in this world as "living on easy street!" Jesus himself weighed in on what we can expect to encounter in this life when he said, "in this life you will have tribulation" (John 16:33). No surprise, given that we are a broken people living in a very broken world. That is NOT a formula for a life of ongoing comfort and pleasure!
So how do we cope with these cards we all have been dealt? First and foremost, we must take care of our heart problem. And there is only one remedy! The Gospel of Jesus Christ! Only Jesus can take our desperately sick hearts and heal them! And this healing takes place when we by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone embrace the gospel (good news) about Jesus, God's Son and our Savior. Once we do this, he doesn't simply repair our old heart - he gives us a new one (Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17). If you have never made the choice to embrace Christ and his gospel, I encourage you to check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face.
Secondly, we must remember the importance of perspective and take steps to have the right one! Perspective (how you look at life) will go along way toward how you respond to it. Let me illustrate. For as long as I can remember, I have been a Penn State football fan. I grew up in Harrisburg, PA, which sits a mere two hours from Mt. Nittany. Saturdays for me often meant watching Penn State beat up some unfortunate foe who would dare enter the lion's den known as Beaver Stadium. Now for those of you who follow the Nittany Lions ... you know that recently PSU was barely winning more than they lost. Until this year! At the beginning of the season, pundits were picking Penn State to finish around the middle of the pack of the East Division of the Big Ten. A few (and I do mean FEW!) went out on a limb to predict a nine win season and a third place finish in the division. But NO ONE predicted what happened: an eleven win season and the Big Ten Championship! Now ... all that as background to what happened in Pasadena on Monday evening. In one of the most exciting, Rose Bowl games ever played the Lions came up on the short end of a 52-49 score, losing on a last second field goal by a very good University of Southern California team. The collective groan of Nittany Nation must have been heard throughout the country! I admit, I was among the groaners! Yet ... if you would have told me at the beginning of the season that PSU would have lost the Rose Bowl to USC in such fashion ... I would have been thrilled! What? Penn State in the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten Champs? Really? Wow! You see ... how we respond to disappointment in life is often determined by our perspective.
So what should be our perspective on life (especially when it gets hard)? Well, I could say a lot on this, and I fear I have already overstayed my welcome ... so let me just quote Jesus, again from the Gospel of John: "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Jesus Christ has overcome this broken world. He proved it when he rose from the dead on the third morning following his violent execution by crucifixion. Several weeks later, he ascended to heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty (Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3). Together he and his Father are ruling over this world. Any circumstance, whether good or bad, that comes our way, first passes through their hands. Therefore, we can be confident that God is working ALL things for His glory (Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16) and our ultimate good (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). Keeping this perspective will go a long way toward settling our anxious souls when adversity strikes!
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