MUCH MORE THAN WE DESERVE

The song “ It is Well with my Soul “ was written by a successful Christian lawyer, Horatio Spatford. His only son died at age 4. A few years later, the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871, reduced the city to ashes and wiped out his vast estate made from his thriving legal practice.  Two years later he decided to send his wife and four daughters on holiday to Europe. Since he had a lot of work to do, he planned to follow them later. Midway on their journey, the ship they were travelling in – Ville Du Havre, crashed with another vessel, sank and he lost his 4 daughters with his wife being the only survivor. When arriving in England, she sent the famous telegram – Saved Alone. Horatio then sailed over to England, with a great sense of grief, to be with his wife; going over the location where his daughters died. On his journey to England, he wrote this all – time classic “ It is Well with my Soul “

I read an article recently that really made me to have a fresh appreciation for what I have. The world population is about 7 billion people. Prof Phillip Harter from the Stanford University of Medicine, led a research team which asked the following question: If the earth’s population was shrunk into a village of just 100 people with all the human ratios existing in the world still remaining, what would the tiny, diverse village look like? These were their findings:

57 would be Asian, 21 would be European, 14 would be from the Western Hemisphere, 8 would be African, 52 would be female, 48 would be male, 70 would be non-white, 30 would be white, 6 people would possess 58% of the entire world’s wealth, 6 would be from the USA, 80 would live in sub – standard housing, 70 would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, 1 would be near death, 1 would be pregnant, 1 would have a graduate education and 1 would own a computer.

I drew the following inference – if I have access to all the basic amenities in life and do not have to beg, steal or borrow to make ends meet, I am richer than 75% of the world’s population.

THE SECRET OF LONGEVITY

Paul wrote from a prison cell  “I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the secret for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” ( Phil 4:12-13 – Message )

What Paul is trying to communicate to us, is that the highest form of happiness is contentment. The media and our consumer driven society often capitalize on discontent. It can even create unwarranted wants for us and we slavishly follow what is trendy and fashionable. I want to admit that in my own life, contentment does not come easy and naturally. I have to make a conscious and deliberate decision to put my circumstances intoan appropriate perspective.

The following issues can mess up our “contentment barometer “ :

1. Comparisons:

When you consistently compare yourself with others, you lose your own identity and your mission in life will progressively become clouded. The old adage of keeping up with the Jones’ can lead to a path of self-destruction.

2. Exaggerated expectations:

Most of us are always on the lookout for the great and spectacular stuff. In the process we lose out on the small things that holds great potential for positioning us into a niche space. Great opportunities are always disguised in small packages. Sometimes the little things in life are stepping stones to the big opportunities. Have a sense of awareness not to lose out on these opportunities

3. Entitlement:

There is this misplaced belief, which is becoming pervasive in our society that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment; with no inkling of responsibility. Live your life without any expectation that the world owes you something.

4. Impatience:

The dictionary defines impatience as restlessness; an intolerance of anything that thwarts, delays or hinders. The process is more important than the destination; learn to embrace the process because it will build your character. We live in the microwave millennium that engenders an instant mentality. We want it and we want it now!

As I reflected on the lives of Horatio Spatford, Abraham, Joseph, Paul and the numerous heroes of our faith, I can’t help but to bow down in an attitude of repentance for the days in which I engaged in extensive pity parties and allowed my mind to be afflicted by questions, contradictions and misplaced priorities. I have recommitted myself to be grateful on a daily basis, for all that I have. I had internalize the powerful refrain “ …. Whatever my lot, Though has taught me to say, It is well, It is well with my soul.”  The ultimate source of joy and contentment regardless of the circumstances, is rooted in the Lord. Sometimes we ascribe too much credit to our own intellect, skills set, personality, and networks. Let me categorically state that it has everything to do with our Creator because in Him we live and move and have our being. Someone, somewhere would give anything to have what I have. Above all, I will forever be thankful to have the Lord on my side. Life could have been an endless disaster if He was not on our side. This is much more than we deserve.  

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