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Sunday, 12 July 2015

A horse to water

You can take a horse to water...

Sometimes unhappiness erupts like a geyser, spraying everyone in sight with gunge the unhappy person may not have even known was there. Other times it expresses itself in a sort of emotional flatline, where the unhappy person’s voice betrays a numbness which speaks louder than the words she may say.

As one who loves a currently-very-unhappy person, I am not sure which of those two extremes I prefer. Living at a distance, I rely on Skype, and as the computer plays its tonal dialing, I wait in prayerful suspense, trusting God to give me the right words, the encouraging replies and the loving understanding to respond helpfully. 

When situations in life change irrevocably and we don’t like where they have dropped us, we choose how to respond. We can accept and then embrace the change, and make the most of our shrinking horizons. Or we can hunker down and survive, looking at the change as a sentence and resenting the events and perhaps even the people who have occasioned it. 

We can blame our unhappiness on our circumstances, our location, or other people, but basically it is birthed within us. It is an attitude of heart and mind. I will never forget the choir of African Aids orphans who bubbled with joy and were eager to thank God for the sunshine, for the flowers, for every breath they took. They had nothing – perhaps not even much of a future. But what they had they recognised as gifts from God and were grateful. 

We in the west usually have much more than those sweet Aids orphans, but sometimes we nurture a deep discontent. We know what we want and if what we have falls short of that, we are unhappy.

This is not meant to be a criticism of unhappy people, because I know myself that there are times we just cannot muster optimism or contentment within us, though we know we should. My first three years in Scotland were full of joys: a happy marriage to a wonderful husband, two beautiful and healthy children, a home of our own and enough to get by. Yet I teetered on the brink of depression, so homesick was I. 

Nothing I read or thought or tried drew me into a better place until, at my lowest point, I found myself in the company of a few people who knew and loved Jesus passionately and personally. I saw in their eyes what I knew I longed for: the assurance of purpose, the assurance of the love of a divine and powerful God. When I finally cried out to him, he marinated me in the Holy Spirit and I was changed. I was sweeter to the taste I’m sure, and in myself, I finally settled and was content. Happy.

I am thinking a lot about this dear, unhappy person in my life and I am praying that in the depths of her sorrow and grief, she will cry out to the living God and know him in a new and deeper way than she ever has before.

She is the one who took this horse to water and finally, after several years, I chose to drink from the well springing up to eternal life. Now I pray that my words can encourage her to choose to drink again from that same well. I fear she has run a little dry.

I look forward to hearing this problem shift. I am anticipating God’s miracle.

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