Anybody ever feel like you are the only person on the planet trying to do the right thing? Even though you know that’s not true you still wonder why you work so hard, so sacrificially even, while others continue to crap on you? Why even bother working that hard at doing the right thing…? A while ago I did a post on choices over at 47 Grove. When I was younger I had no problem with the concept of “thankless” good deeds. As an adult I’ve had more time and experience to see real messed up stuff happen. Maybe that’s why it is now sometimes harder to understand why you can do everything right and still get crapped on. Perseverance used to come a lot easier. I went so far as to look up the definition of the word “persevere”…. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. One synonym given was literarily to “struggle on”. I guess “the struggle is real” is an actual thing. Even if you have been around long enough to know doing the right thing means you’ll likely still get crapped on… it’s not until you’re actually IN the crap that things really get tough. You know it’s coming, and yet still when it hits you wonder why life is spinning.
I could be a beach bum. For the rest of my life! I love the sound of that career. I could sell art on the boardwalk. I could wear a bathing suit every day. I could even do a little ministry and pray for people along the beach, right? Doesn’t that sound a whole lot better right now? Costa Rica has nice beaches I’ve heard. Beach missions.
Hmmm… God doesn’t seem to have called me to a life of beach missions. Bummah. Instead I’m in the trenches of what many have called the “thankless ministry”. They call it youth ministry. In all actuality it’s more like babysitting, mentoring, coaching, life guarding, cleaning, driving, car pooling, feeding, reading, pick ups, nursing, juggling, praying, praying, and really praying that everyone turns out alright. Myself included. The beach sounds a lot easier though! Maybe someday. Possibly around retirement age. That’s okay.
I’m not the only one to have experienced an unwanted or seemingly undeserved ending to a really good / moral / or even evangelistic deed. I think of the many times in the Bible people who were in the middle of doing the right thing got crapped on. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison. Jesus’ disciples were arrested, tortured, murdered. Mary saw her miracle baby brutally killed in front of her own eyes. Let’s not even go Old Testament here. Daniel was thrown in a pit with vicious lions. Noah was mocked by his entire society. Let’s not even go there with Job or Jeremiah.
I guess I feel pretty stupid now. Many have experienced far harsher trials than my own. One thing I’m always telling my kids is that God always keeps His promises, and to remember that He promises this life will be hard and… the struggle is real. Dang, I knew saying that all the time would come back to bite me someday. Taking my own advice.
We aren’t supposed to feel good after every right decision. We are supposed to feel right about every good decision. Sometimes you’ll be thrown for a loop. The ending won’t be what you wanted, could have guessed or even deserved. So let’s examine again why we do the right thing. First reason, because I’m called by the God who I love. After sacrificing for me I know that I can sacrifice for Him. I can do what He’s asked because I love Him and He is God. Second reason, because others will benefit from my right decision even if I don’t. Third reason, because someday I will be rewarded. Oh, and it will be a great great reward in heaven. God will bless me on earth as well according to how He sees fit. Fourth and final reason, because I trust Him. God knows what He’s doing. and I don’t need to question why. I just need to serve. I just need to make right choices. I just need to be faithful. I trust God for the rest. He knows what I need better than I do.
Guess what… it still sucks to get crapped on. Ha! Yeah, I know. So there are things you can do during those times. As you can see, I tend to blog a bit! It releases tension for me and provides a safe place to get all my thoughts out in the open. I often figure out a lesson God’s been trying to teach me after I read my own thoughts that I’ve poured out while writing. I also make sure I am resting, taking a sabbath each week, and caring for my health properly. I escape to the beach when I need to. I get some fresh air and clear my head. I do something I really enjoy for an afternoon if it’s well deserved. I call someone who I know understands or cares and just have a conversation with them. Even if it’s not extraordinarily deep it means something to have someone you care about talk to you on the phone for a bit. I take a deep breathe. I take a sip of my coffee. Eventually I find my way back to my prayer closet. I read my Bible. I ask God for wisdom. I try and move forward. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. There’s isn’t a better way. There isn’t a short cut. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way.
It’s troubling sometimes the amount of hardship we can expect to come. Even still I reminded that God has given me all the means to make it through. If I’m filled with the Holy Spirit and my God is for me… who can be against me?