There is a popular saying about how people can see life as either a glass half-full or a glass half-empty. The interesting thing about the glass half-full/empty idea is that people have a notion that there is more to life than we actually experience. The fact that there is a glass that is half-whatever assumes that we only experience some of what life has to offer. Even though it is used as a metaphor and we can't really measure what we are missing out on, the reality remains the same: there is something out there that we are missing. The question is, can it be obtained?
This metaphor does both good and harm. It does good in the sense that it directs focus in our lives to the good things in life. In Philippians 4:8, Paul tells the church, "Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." There is a sense that we are to dwell in the things that are good in life. Acts of kindness and sacrifice, a movement towards justice, moments of peace, and reaching out to the poor, lost, and lonely all seem to fit these categories. There seems to be enough good in this world to think about so that we aren't constantly focusing on the bad. The problem is, that it is much easier to focus on the bad then on the good of life.
What happens when we focus on the bad? First, it makes us negative. From that negative state, we become either sad and depressed if we feel like there is no hope and we don't see an end to whatever we are dwelling on or we become upset and angry if we think that we can actually do something about the terrible situation on it. When we focus on the bad our thoughts begin to spiral downward, fast. It leads us in a state where we become so self-absorbed that we either feel like the entire world is working against us or find ourselves hopeless that we end up in a pity-party. Focusing on the bad prevents us from experiencing God because we end up thinking that God is malicious and small. We believe that God has no control over what happens and ultimately over all things.
There is a difference between acknowledging the bad in our lives and dwelling on it. Acknowledging it creates a pattern of learning and trust, dwelling on it simply makes you go deeper into the bad. The reality is that God is still sovereign and above all things. Its the difference between digging a hole to get to gold and digging a hole to make a grave. Through the bad, good can come out, but it depends on where you are digging. If you keep your thoughts in the bad, then you will end up swimming in it. What you need to do is keep your thoughts on the good, because the good will help you understand the bad, learn from the bad, and ultimately get through it.
What is that good? That good is God. Its only when we know God and trust in the God we know that we can get through all bad. Instead, most people end up committing "two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:13). Essentially, what God is saying is that people aren't seeing that God is enough and discarding Him at the first sign of pain, suffering, and badness in life, and then, instead of drinking from the fountain of life, they are drinking from toilet bowls (as Mark Driscoll says). They are exchanging Voss Water for NY sewage.
The way that evil works in this world is that they say you are entitled to whatever you want. Whenever you don't get anything you want, evil speaks into your ear and says, "look, once again, God failed you," or "see, you were right, God doesn't love you, if He did, then you wouldn't have gone through that," or "if God were truly good, then you wouldn't be in the situation you are in now." Essentially, it keeps you focused on your circumstances and do everything they can to make you not want to trust that God is still above all that you are going through. When we listen to these voices, our circumstances become bigger than God in our lives and we become servants to those circumstances. We allow our circumstances to determine what we believe about God, what we believe about ourselves, and what we believe about the world. We allow our circumstances to take the place of God in our lives as we find ourselves consumed by thoughts of those circumstances.
The problem with the glass half-whatever scenario is that we end up focused on what we see. We are always assessing our circumstances and trying to make the most of it, instead of allowing God to bring the most out of it. You see, God wants to give us something greater, and all it costs on our end is trust and obedience. He wants to rock our worlds and give us a greater sense of peace and fulfillment than we could ever imagine, but we don't let Him because we are so busy trying to hold on to the little control we have over our lives. Essentially, because we make our circumstances bigger than God in our lives, we try to become god in our circumstances because we don't trust that God will do what He does best in it all.
God is trustworthy. After all, He holds all things together and works all things for the good of those who He loves. He knew us from before we were in our mothers' wombs and he created us carefully to become exactly who we are today. He wants more for us than we could ever imagine or want for ourselves and its only when we stop turning our circumstances into things that are bigger than God in our lives that we can experience the fullness of what God has to offer us here on earth. We've got one life, it makes sense to trust God with it.
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