I just figured out why I'm often unhappy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ALWAYS unhappy. But I spend a great deal of my time wishing, hoping, praying that things were different. Asking for more money in case something goes wrong and I don't have enough to pay for it, wishing that I had a cheaper gas and electric bill, hoping that I'll win big the next time I go to the casino, or praying that a better opportunity will show up soon. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of those things -- with wanting to be delivered from your circumstances, or with dreaming of a better life.
The problem lies in the constant desire for something different. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: when I was in elementary school, I couldn't wait to be in high school like my cool older brother so that he'd want to hang out with me. When I was in high school, I missed the simplicity of elementary school because I was miserable and couldn't wait to go to college where people would finally treat me with respect and stop being immature and making fun of me. When I was in college, I missed my parents and little sister back home, and I couldn't wait to graduate and get married so that I could move closer and get started on 'real life'. When I was married the first time, I was miserable because I had wasted four years of college wishing to get out of it when, really, it would've been fun if I'd allowed myself to enjoy it, and now I was in a depressing marriage and couldn't be happy until I finally got divorced and found 'THE ONE'. Once I found 'THE ONE', I couldn't wait to have a baby so that we could live happily ever after. Once I spent ten years unable to reproduce... well, you get the picture by now, right?
"God is more interested in changing US than He is in changing our circumstances." -- Joyce Meyer.
Well, that just shoots an arrow right to the heart, doesn't it? All of these things I prayed for over the years and none of it has been completely fulfilling without SOMETHING else, and it's because all of this time, I haven't allowed myself to be completely fulfilled with GOD'S PLAN for the day, for the week, for the year, for my life. I've been asking Him to change my circumstances for 37 years but never have I thought to ask Him to change ME.
Joyce Meyer goes on to say, "He does not delight in watching us suffer or have a difficult time, but He does delight in our spiritual growth. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that most of our spiritual maturity develops during the hard times in our lives, not during the easy times. Opposition stretches us. It stretches our faith, teaches us not to trust in ourselves to solve our problems, and gives us compassion for other people who go through difficulties. The apostle James said that our trials will eventually bring out patience and that when patience is fully developed in us, we will lack nothing. He even states that we should be exceedingly joyful in various trials and tribulations because of what they are working in us."
What if we were fully joyful in whatever God gives us to sustain us throughout the day? What if we remained faithful and trusting that, no matter what the circumstances, He would be there to give us what we needed moment by moment and that if we really would seek Him first, He would be faithful to HIS promise and add all these things to us? What if we prayed for joyful endurance rather than deliverance? What if we prayed for a change in US instead of a change in our circumstances?
Going through a difficult time in your marriage? What if, instead of asking God to change your spouse's mind and make them different, you asked for Him to make a change in YOU... your outlook, your mindset, your patience, your kindness, your thoughts, your ability to love unconditionally?
Going through a difficult financial struggle? What if, instead of asking God to rain more money down upon you to help you pay for what needs to be paid for, you asked Him to change your outlook on what 'struggle' really means, and to really believe that you can trust Him for your provision on a daily basis instead of living in fear that your world is going to collapse?
Whatever your circumstance, it's not wrong to ask Him to deliver you from it or to make it better. But, at the same time, start asking Him to show you what you're to be learning from the circumstance while you're in it. Start asking Him to help you to find joy in every day, regardless of what you're going through. Start asking Him to help you to seek Him (His way, His plan, His kingdom) first and to trust in Him unconditionally to give you what you need -- not just to survive, but to thrive.
I guarantee, He will come through every single time without fail.