Sep 20, 2010

"The rain falls on the just and the unjust"


Frenemies?
Sometimes in life, no matter how hard you work or how hard you prepare, troubles come your way.  So many people in life praise God when he does good in their life, but when a struggle, trouble or trauma comes around, they are essentially fair-weather friends, losing faith when it's needed the most.

I am constantly wondering what is going to happen with my career.  I moved out west solely to advance in my field, and I'm always thinking "am I headed in the right direction?"  I miss the comforts of being at home with my friends, living in a place I know backwards and forwards.  Fergie put it well when she said (via a favorite song of mine -- not to be completely cliche) "the industry is cold."  People are rude for no real reason; they can dislike you because you're too short, because you say "ya'll," because they don't like your name.  I find myself wondering, rather frequently, why people I work with act the way they do towards me.  As much as I try to appease them, it never seems to be enough.  Am I doing something wrong?

The same goes for many "friends" (I'm using that term loosely) that I have made out here.  While some LA transplants are aggressive, ambitious and proactive, plenty of them can't handle competition.  They would rather stand alone than have a confidant in the same field.  It's rather bizarre, because when I meet people who are going after the same dream as me, I feel relieved: someone to lean on.  But after the way I have been treated at times, it's clear that a lot of my peers don't want a confidant because they fear that person might succeed further (and faster) than them. 

This was odd to me because in Texas I had so many supportive friends -- most of them with different dreams than myself, but some who aspired to do the same thing.  I built the best relationships with these people because we both knew we'd work hard on a project to make it exceptional or would prepare for a presentation so that the whole group would look good.  It wasn't a matter of competition, it was a matter of achieving our personal best.

So, since moving out to California, I had to evaluate why others were trying (and sometimes succeeding) at making me feel bad about myself.  I work hard and try to do the right thing, so why was I being put in these situations?

The fact of the matter is that just because you believe in God and are a Christian, doesn't mean that you will not encounter troubles.  However, being a Christian allows us to inherit the tools to make a difference out of those situations.  Matthew 5:45 tells us that the rain will fall not only on the unjust but on the just as well.   When we have hope and faith, we do not see with our own eye, but see through God's.

I know for myself, personally, that when something isn't going according to plan or if something happens that I don't understand, I worry it is because of something I did:  did I not try hard enough?  Did I not prepare thoroughly?  Did I not do everything I could do?  I'm always quick to find a fault in myself.

But God doesn't bring struggle into our lives when we've necessarily done something wrong.  Sure, there are consequences for our actions.  But sometimes it comes when we are doing the right thing.  For instance, when we feel like a co-worker or a "frenemy" is trying to tear us down, it's not because we are doing anything wrong, it's because we are doing something right.  Ever notice when you're doing really well at work or school, people find something to knit-pick about?  That, for whatever reason, they become even more critical of you when you are flourishing?  The devil doesn't want our path to flourish or be easy. Hewants to present road blocks to see if our faith is strong enough to get us through.  It's how we handle those blocks that determines the outcome.  So when we are working hard and putting all of our effort into a project and an enemy steps in to try to sabatoge us -- or not even that, perhaps they make a comment to make us feel bad -- that's not happening because we aren't doing well.  It's happening because we are.  Like my mom always tells me, people in life will act out of jealously and envy.  They won't give credit where it's due because they want that credit.  They won't compliment you on things you have because they want them too.  When you have a strong faith and you have God's light on your side, people will try to cover it with darkness.

This goes for momental tragedies as well.  What if I loved one becomes critically ill?  How about if you lost your job, got into a car wreck, or your house was burned to the ground?  You have to keep your light on.  God promises us that if we have faith, he'll take whatever harm was intended for us and use it not only for our personal advantage, but to also show others His greatness.  Isn't that awesome?  When bad things happen, don't lose sight of God's glory.  Remain faithful and know that he is taking you through that situation to make a difference and to bring you out of it and into a more fruitful circumstance! 

God knows your path.  He knows if you will encounter illness, if you will get a promotion, if you will lose your job, when and where you will meet influential people.  He knows all of these things.  He also creates situations: just as easy as he can open up hearts, he can harden them so that a lesson can be learned, much like Pharaoah and Moses.  God hardened Pharaoah's heart to cause adversity for Moses, so that ultimately he could be illuminate Himself in an extraordinary way.

Nothing is by chance.  Every single thing, even the small details in your life, happen for a reason. 

This post is based on Joel Osteen's podcast #475: Dealing with Unexpected Difficulties.  Download it on iTunes or on his website.

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