Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
Do you enjoy life? Are you a person who likes to learn what life has to offer you?
I’ve met a few people who say, “Life has passed me by. I’ve lost my faith and hope for the future”. There are some simple tips that I can suggest today.
1. Learn to Forgive and Also Forget…
A person is what he remembers, but he is also what he forgets. One of the healthiest things a human being can do is become a master of forgetting. It’s good to have a good memory, but it’s also good to be a good ‘forgetter’.
The apostle Paul gave us a part of the secret of his great life when he said, “I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run towards the goal so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
We can’t be sure of all the things Paul had in mind when he spoke of ‘forgetting those things which are behind’, but I’m sure he must have included his failures and disappointments: the hurts he had suffered, as well as his successes and achievements. To live a victorious life you can’t rest on yesterday’s laurels, and you can’t harbour yesterday’s hurts. As someone has said, “The rewards in life go to those who are willing to give up the past.”
…And Let Go of Grudges
Some wise person also once said, “There ain’t no burden so heavy as carrying a grudge.” Bernard Baruch, advisor to six American presidents, said, “One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything before you go to bed at night.”
In the 1972 movie The Revengers, a rancher is searching for a gang that killed his family and destroyed his home. In a moving scene a woman who had befriended him said, “You must be careful what you put in your heart. If you fill it with hate, there’ll be no room for love and laughter and tears. And your heart will rot.”
Anger and bitterness are poisons just like strychnine. They can build up slowly in you until they kill you. So, whatever you do, don’t hug a grudge. Don’t dwell on your resentments, your hates, your frustrations, your disappointments, your regrets. There is too much impediment in that. They will wear you down.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says:
There can be no joy like peace.
There can be no gift like health.
There can be no faith like trust.
There can be no sickness like hate.
2. Face Adversity with Courage
Most of us get at least one knock-down punch in life—a death, a divorce, a disease, a wayward child, an alcoholic relative. As novelist Alan Patton, in a poem to his son, wrote, “Life sees you coming. She lies in wait for you; she cannot but hurt you.” Adversity is never pleasant, but it can be good for us. If responded to correctly it can bring out the finest qualities in our life. Christian graces are like perfumes, the more they are pressed, the sweeter they smell; like stars that shine brightest in the dark; like trees, which, the more they are shaken, the deeper root they take, and the more fruit they bear.
Like Job, I don’t understand all of God’s ways, but even the Lord learned obedience through the things he suffered. I would not, therefore, ask to go through a world without adversity, for it is sorrow and suffering which increases our sensitivity toward God and others. Adversity is a part of life. There is no way to escape it, no way around it. You must go through it. But, by God’s grace, we can do that and not be defeated by it.
3. Happiness is a Choice; Keep a Sense of Humour
When Georges Pompidou became president of France in 1969 he created a new cabinet post. He called it ‘Secretary of State Charged with Public Opinion’. It was the responsibility of this person to keep his ear to the ground and report to the president any cause of discontent. The man who was appointed described his responsibility: “I am,” he said, “the minister of moans and groans.” We don’t have to go through life moaning and groaning. We can look on the bright side of life. We can be positive and optimistic. We can acknowledge the clouds of life and also see the silver linings.
Happiness is always a choice. Abraham Lincoln was right: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” We especially need to learn to laugh at ourselves. The Bible says, “Happiness makes you smile; sorrow can crush you” (Proverbs 15:13). So try to cultivate a happy, cheerful disposition.
4. Each Day Do Something for Someone Else
Say to yourself each day, “I will get outside of myself and think about somebody else.”
Have you heard the story about the man who knelt at an altar and prayed for a friend: “O Lord, help my friend. Help him, Lord, before it’s too late. Touch him, Lord, touch him even if just with your finger.” Then it was as if he heard the voice of God whispering back in his ear, “You touch him; you are my finger.” One of the ways we, as Christians, make each day count is by reaching out and touching other people in the spirit of Jesus Christ: “Today I will be sensitive to what is happening around me. Today I will do something for someone else.”
5. Trust in God For All Your Tomorrows
Sometimes we are frightened a bit by the future, nervous about the unknown, anxious about what lies ahead. But here is where the Christian faith is amazingly helpful because God’s great promise to us is that he will always be with us—that we can count on and trust him. We may not know precisely what the future holds, but we can know that, come what may, God will be there for us. So, we do our best and trust God for the rest.
Robert M. Holmes, a United Methodist minister in Montana, wrote a book entitled Why Jesus Never Had Ulcers (Don’t you just love that title?). In this book Holmes points out that Jesus never had ulcers because he remembered his priorities, what was important. He remembered his calling to be truthful, to not worry about success. He remembered who was in charge. He remembered to do his best today, and to trust God for tomorrow and all the tomorrows of eternity.
That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s how to make each day count. “Today, I will be sensitive to what is happening around me. Today, I will do something good for someone else. And today, I will trust God for tomorrow.”
- See more Morning Devotions with Chris Witts