The Word of God is brutally honest about the reality of life. Sometimes in the process of growing up in God’s family, we feel the sting of adversity. It doesn’t feel good, and we would not really desire it. But God has a purpose in our pain that we may not see or understand in the present. We can trust that our pain is no secret to Him. Everything that happens to us will become a platform for the glory of Him who “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). God uses problems in our lives to drive us to Him as our only hope, our only source of dependence. Difficulty is often one phase of divine discipline (meaning training toward maturity). It is unfortunate that many teachers today say that if we love God and we walk with Him, we will never be sick, we will never suffer, we will never know poverty or financial hardship—we will never experience any of that! That doctrine is not from the Word of God! Jesus Himself said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Every time we fail to reach a goal, we have the opportunity to try again. What a foolish thing it is to fail and not learn something. If we accept failure as the final and absolute judgment of our potential, then we are going to fail the rest of our lives. We have to learn to use failure as a resource, as an opportunity, and often it can be the door to great success.
John Keats, an English author, once wrote, “Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterward carefully avoid.”
If we study our failures, we’ll see what we’re doing wrong so we can find out how to do it right. Don’t throw your failures away. Use them to help you succeed. If you are going in the same direction and falling in the same pitfall, then learn to go a different way. God often allows our failures to become distinctive points of power and ministry in our lives.
Loneliness is a state of mind, not a state of place. Being alone is a state of place, where we are. Even if we are alone, yet enjoy fruitful and loving relationships in our life, we will not feel lonely, as we will know we are loved; we are cared for, and our presence is missed and anticipated. Being alone is usually temporary, while loneliness can be an ongoing feeling. Long-term aloneness can surely, however, lead to loneliness.
God did not create us to be alone (Genesis 2:18)—and that does not refer exclusively to marriage. The fact that we were created to live in the presence of God indicates that we are relational creatures. From the every beginning, God established a relationship with Adam and Eve to which they responded naturally (Genesis 1:26-27; 3:8-9). Loneliness is unnatural from the divine perspective. God’s two sources of relief for loneliness are fellowship with Himself and fellowship with other people. We need to know and assure ourselves daily that God has not abandoned us, that He is with us every moment (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). And we need to form and nurture relationships with other people. It is in close, intimate relationships with others that human loneliness is most readily overcome. Paul’s illustration of Christians being like the parts of a human body suggests just how intimately we are to be tied one to another—and how important every person is to the rest (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). It is very difficult to be a healthy Christian who lives alone—apart from the body of Christ. Since God has created in us such a way that we have an emptiness in us that can only be filled by an intimate relationship with Almighty God, we must first fill that emptiness with times of personal devotion, reading His Word, and prayer. Then we take the promises of His Word to heart and pursue and nurture relationships with other people. In both cases, time and effort are required. But when invested, relationships with God and other people become a strong defense against loneliness.
A key passage for understanding anger in Scripture is Ephesians 4:26-27: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (NASB). There are apparently options: being angry and sinning, and being angry and not sinning. The difference is this: Anger without sinning is “righteous indignation,” as when Jesus became indignant over how the Jerusalem temple had been turned into a commercial center for the sake of profit (Matthew 21:12-13). On many occasions, the Old Testament prophets were indignant (angry) over social injustice and spiritual apathy in Israel. But sinful anger—that hardly needs
an explanation. The difference between the two is this: Sinful anger is self-centered, while righteous indignation is God-centered. Sinful anger is hurtful, while righteous anger is holy. Sinful anger seeks retribution, while righteous anger seeks repentance. Sinful anger gives the devil an opportunity, while righteous anger gives God an opportunity.
Unfortunately, there is more sinful anger in the world than there is righteous indignation. And yes, it is wrong to be sinfully angry. It can be hurtful and destructive to relationships, and harmful to our physical health. We are warned about letting a “root of bitterness” spring up and “cause trouble,” defiling many (Hebrews 12:15). The apostle James makes a marked distinction between the two kinds of anger: “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). We cannot justify our sinful anger by claiming to be “righteously indignant.” We can be one or the other, but not both at the same time.