Question: Why is it that some people seem to lead charmed lives? They have perfect looks, perfect health, lots of natural abilities, and lots of friends—everything—while people like me seem to have no end of deficiencies and problems.
Answer: On the surface, things often don’t seem fair, but a lot goes on in every person’s life that is unseen by others. In the wise words of King Solomon in the Bible, “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.”1 Not everyone goes through the same rough spots or at the same time, but everyone has their share eventually.
In the movie The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Will Smith’s character makes the observation that the United States Declaration of Independence includes in its short list of “unalienable rights” the right to the pursuitof happiness—not the right to be happy, but the right to pursue happiness. Why, he questions, was it worded that way? His conclusion is that its author, Thomas Jefferson, must have understood that happiness is something that we all desire and strive for, but also something that not all will find or be able to hold onto.
Twenty-five years ago I came across a gem of wisdom that was to save my sanity. The thing that amazes me now is how easily I could have missed it. I was feeling happy and fulfilled at the time, satisfied with my life and where it seemed to be taking me. I could have brushed it aside as not applying to me, but I was soon glad I hadn’t. Things took an unexpected downward turn, I lost my job and the security it had provided, and those words became a reference point that helped me get through the next few difficult months.
When you first accept Me into your life and come to know Me, I fill you with a profound and intense happiness. The apostle Peter described this as “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”1
When I died on the cross, I paid the price for the sins of the world—including every wrongful deed you have ever committed. And because I did that, whoever believes in and receives Me will live forever—and that includes you too. When you understand what that means, when you realize that all is forgiven, that I love you unconditionally, that I will be there for you through thick and thin, that I will never give up on you, and that no matter what turns this life may take, you can look forward to eternal happiness in a truly perfect world—now that is something to get happy and excited about!
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews lists some heroes and heroines of faith.
One thing these men and women had in common was that they “waited for the city whose builder and maker is God.”1 Their focus wasn’t on their immediate circumstances, but on the heavenly reward. That’s how they were able to endure the tests and tribulations they went through.2 This has practical applications for us. It’s easy to become so weighed down with the concerns of daily living that we lose sight of what’s waiting for us at the end of the road. On the other hand, thinking more about heaven helps us to bear some of the things we have to go through now, so we’re wise to heed the scriptural advice, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”3
As I was walking this evening on the country roads in the hills behind my house, I realized that next week it will be five years since I last saw you, since you left us.
At first I was saddened by the thought, but suddenly it struck me differently. Five years in heaven. You’ve spent five years in heaven. What that must be like!
Rounding a bend, a spectacular sunset came into view. The sky was awash in pinks and blues, amplified by a pre-monsoon day that had alternated, sometimes suddenly, between sunny, brilliant blue skies and rain clouds.
The Bible doesn’t say there aren’t going to be any tears in heaven. When we get to heaven and face God, we will no doubt all have a few tears to shed for mistakes we made and opportunities we missed and loved ones that we’ll wish we’d loved more and been kinder to. We will all have something to be sorry about and ashamed of then.
But isn’t God wonderfully loving and merciful? He says He’s going to wipe away all those tears. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”1
When you’re stuck in a situation that’s not to your liking, you’ll be amazed sometimes at what a little positiveness can do. It’s only natural to see all the things that are wrong with the situation, or to remember all the times you had it better, or to look at those who currently seem to have it better, but you’re not going to be happy that way. You will be happy, though, if you decide that you’re going to be thankful for what you have, rather than dwelling on what you don’t have.
Someone asked me the other day, “Why do you so often tell your age?” Well, I think it’s wonderful how God has kept me through so many years. I’ll tell it again.—I’m in my 80th year [in 1966]!
An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.
—Sir Winston Churchill
When we know that everything has two sides, let us look at the bright side only.