Happiness in a Tablet

found using Google Images

found using Google Images

I am currently reading more than one book. I am reading Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom for my own enjoyment, Same Kind of Different as Me for the Bloom Book Club, Hebrews by Bill Britton for adult Sunday School. And, of course, there are other books that I am constantly reading, always picking up where I left off (Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is one of those).

Yesterday I was reading Have a Little Faith and I’m about halfway through the book. I’m in part titled “Happiness” and this passage really struck me:

Happiness in a tablet. This is our world. Prozac. Paxil. Xanax. Billions are spent to advertise such drugs. And billions more are spent purchasing them. You don’t even need a specific trauma; just “general depression” or “anxiety,” as if sadness were as treatable as the common cold.

I knew depression was real, and in many cases required medical attention. I also knew we overused the word. Much of what we called “depression” was really dissatisfaction, a result of setting a bar impossibly high or expecting treasures that we weren’t willing to work for. I knew people whose unbearable source of misery was their weight, their baldness, their lack of advancement in a workplace, or their inability to find the perfect mate, even if they themselves did not behave like one. To these people, unhappiness was a condition, an intolerable state of affairs. If pills could help, pills were taken.

But pills were not going to change the fundamental problem in the construction. Wanting what you can’t have. Looking for self-worth in the mirror. Layering work on top of work and still wondering why you weren’t satisfied — before working some more.

While reading this, I thought to myself, “I do that.” I get frustrated with my job (even though I really do like it) because I haven’t been promoted yet or because I’ve been there almost 2 years without a raise. I sometimes feel like I don’t do enough works for God as if my works alone will bring me closer to Him. I sometimes expect God to be on my time table, not His. I want it when I want it and get frustrated when God says, “No, Jennifer Lynn, not yet” or just plain, “No.” James wrote,

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith by no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes or daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. {2:14-17}

Now, at first glance I suppose that this passage could back up the idea that we should all be constantly doing something for God. Yes and no. Your deeds shouldn’t be more than your faith. Your deeds should be a reflection of your faith. This also brings to mind the parable of the wise and foolish builders {Matthew 7:24-27}.

The wise builder built his house upon a rock (the Word) and when a storm came, the house stood because it was on firm foundation. The foolish builder built his home on sand and when the same storm came, it was washed away because it was on shaky foundation. The wise man listened to the Word and did as it said. He had faith enough to say, “This is how God says I am to live my life and I will heed the Word.” The foolish builder, on the other hand, is like the one in James 2:18 who says, “You have faith; I have deeds.” He did the work but not the faith behind it. I can imagine he might have said, “This looks like a pretty place to build my home. It’s right by the water. The ground isn’t very firm, but that’s ok as long as it looks nice.”

Father God, I ask you humbly now to help me to see when I do works just to do works not as an offering of my faith. Lord God, open my eyes to see the difference between what is of you and what is of me. Amen.

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