When All Else Fails
Insight into what to do when you have tried everything and nothing seems to work
(c) 2000 William R. Cunningham
April 10, 2000
What do you do when everything that you have tried to resolve a dilemma in your life fails? For example, what do you try next when all of your efforts to save your marriage have gone the way of the Dodo Bird? You try this and you try that and yet nothing seems to work. You end up in the same place you started yet in a worse state due to the frustration of trying to make things better. You can’t seem to get a hold of your life. You are miserable and sinking fast. Every now and then there is a ray of sunshine and once in a while you find a gleam of happiness. These are however only a mirage that drift away as soon as you wake up from your dream.
You say you love God and you love his people and yet these things don’t seem to bring you comfort. Why? It’s not that God brings misery but those things that are associated with him bring misery. For example, the very thing that you figured would help you turns out to be sucking you dry. Yet because you think that this is the only link to your true fulfillment you keep going back to get sucked on. You go to church every Sunday to listen to the minister condemn you. Oh how sweet the condemnation is. You say to yourself, "I’m not crazy. There are other people just like me—condemned for the junk that we all do. I guess I’m normal then." Yet we can’t seem to escape the bondage that has been placed on us and that we have allowed. Some people wake up and realize that they are slaves and others never wake up.
Now some people attempt to escape the bondage that they find themselves in. What bondage? We may be bound by anything. Most of all, I believe we are bound by our need for things. We need food (not just for nourishment). We need sex. We need companionship. We need to be loved. The list goes on. We want to be satisfied and we want to be loved. We want others to accept us as we are—slaves to those we want acceptance from. How can we possibly escape this trap? We try to escape by using external things, which efficiently and effectively bind us more. It is like the classic sin cycle. In order to escape sin we think of ways not to sin, thus we think more and more of sin. This "sin thinking" binds us more and more to the very thing that we are trying to escape, namely sin. The more we stop trying to commit a certain sin, the more we become that sin or that sin binds us more. This applies to anything that binds us. We want to escape alcohol so we think more and more about alcohol hoping that our knowledge of it will deliver us when in fact it serves as a strengthening agent for the chain that bind us.
So what do you do? How can you make things right? Everything that you try to do only ends in disappointment, a sense of failure, or more and more frustration. This can lead to animosity about the situation and anyone associated with it. This may include your boss, your friend, your wife, or your neighbor. Day after day you sink more and more into misery. You are trapped not only by what bound you in the first place, but also by your attempts to save yourself. So again, what can we do?
Looking To God
Ok, so you think that you can look to God for help. However, he is all the way in heaven and it appears that he really doesn’t care. The problem here is that you judge God based on the things that happen around you, which are the very same things that contribute to your misery. Is God really concerned with these things? If not then are these things worth the time of day? What is meaningful in your life? What really matters? Does your marriage and relationships really make a difference? Do your children really matter in the long run? What difference does anything make? Why not just eat, drink, and be merry and enjoy all the things that you have done? However, this produces another very serious problem. Eating, drinking, and enjoying yourself only contribute to the slavery that you are already in. These things are external and before long you are going to need them. Alas, bound again! What is life worth then? Who cares about you and why should anyone care about you? Why should you care about anyone?
You may say, "They tell me in church that God loves me. Well then where is he and where is the evidence of this love? Can’t he see my misery! Can’t he feel my pain! If he really cared he would deliver me from this ride. Either he doesn’t care or I am looking completely in the wrong direction." If you would consider what we know about God then you would find that in all cases you are not looking in the right direction. We expect God to exist in things when he doesn’t care about those things. We expect God to make us happy with things when those things don’t matter. Why? We already said that they produce bondage in our lives (we will develop a need for them) and God wants us free. The Bible declares that liberty accompanies the Spirit of God. So where God is, there is liberty not bondage. Therefore, we can know that God is not concerned with the things that we think will make us happy and free us. If this was true, and I believe that it is, then God is not a component of your misery and despair. This has two very serious implications. First, God cannot be blamed for your current condition. Secondly, the solution that you have desperately implemented, which doesn’t include God, is not going to give you the answer that you want. This therefore suggests that perhaps God has the answer.
So here we are again. What should we do? Look to God? Well I just said that he doesn’t care about the things and yet we do. We love those things. They are like a drug to us that give us moments of pleasure and security. It would be so nice to just have that drink to make us feel better or to have sex with the fantasy person even in our dreams—how sweet it would be—or so we think. Again, doesn’t God care about my misery and doesn’t he care about me! Where is he—I’m drowning here God doesn’t He see me dying?
Then Came Jesus Christ
We don’t realize that God has already helped us. We cry to God for help and he has already done the work. We are too busy looking for external things to help us when in fact the help we need is within us. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within us and we know that the Holy Spirit lives within us. Why in the world are we looking elsewhere for answers? Yes God cares about me but he is not moved by emotions. If God were moved by emotions then we would all be a mess. Imagine for example if a judge was moved by emotions. He or she couldn’t be very effective because emotions are very unstable and very susceptible to outside influence. Instead, the judge must remain objective in what he or she sees. God is the same way. He remains stable and sure. It is we that must get on his train and not him on ours. If we want deliverance then we must do things God’s way in order to obtain it. The consequences of this may be rather profound because those around you may not have come to the same revelation. You may find yourself at odds with your own family. Imagine if you came to the revelation that you didn’t have to need your spouse for fulfillment and happiness (not that your spouse doesn’t make you happy). If you don’t need your spouse for fulfillment then he or she cannot bind you. Simply stated but very difficult to implement.
You are on your way to freedom but those around you object, unless they too are truly seeking truth. Why do they object? In many cases, your freedom means that they can’t bind you. They no longer have a hold on your life and they don’t like it. You must need them in order to be bound by them. If you don’t need these people then you are free from them.
True fulfillment and happiness (blessings) can only come from God. We can get to God through Jesus Christ. So the basic need that we really have is Christ. Not your husband, wife, children, family, neighbors, job, church, pastor, etc. All of these may turn against you or prove to be the source of your problems and misery. You may not realize it because you may have a great family and a great marriage. This doesn’t negate the fact that we really do need Jesus! Now you may say, "sure I need Jesus but I also have other human needs." There lies the problem. Your life consists of more than your body and your time on earth. You have an eternity ahead of you so how can you say with a straight face that you need sex or that you need gourmet food? That, if you would really think about it, is ludicrous. Jesus will be forever and we will be forever with him so what we need more and more of is Christ. Sure we can enjoy food, sex, and companionship now but they are all meaningless and subject to enslave us when we consider eternity.
An Example in Marriage
The true Christian marriage is supposed to be a union between a husband and wife such that they form one entity. They are individuals but they together form a whole. The purity of this marriage relationship lies in the bond of togetherness and commitment powered by the Spirit of God and abiding by His Way. However, to find such a marriage is very rare. The art of togetherness seems to be lost in lieu of the principles and practices of separation from within and without. So what happens in a marriage is basically bondage.
For example, the husband may try to bind the wife with sexual fulfillment. In order for the wife to be sexually fulfilled by her husband, she must do what he wants and thus enter slavery. Likewise, the wife may attempt to bind the husband with sex in the same way. Without knowing it and sometimes in the name of keeping the peace, one spouse or both the husband and the wife become bound in one way or another to each other. They attempt to escape the slavery but their need has gripped them and they can’t escape. The problem is that they may never know why. Eventually the marriage becomes miserable and they grow further and further apart. Sooner or later, if the conditions are right, infidelity knocks at the door and adds to the slavery that already exists.
The marriage relationship now becomes a Seth pool of slavery. Each trying to enslave the other until the pursuit of happiness finds its way outside of the marriage relationship. How will they ever know what really is going on. Church marriage counseling is a joke and falls far short of helping married couples. The typical marriage counseling deals with separation, which further adds to the problem. They teach that the husband is supposed to hold the door for the wife, treat her like a queen, etc. The wife is supposed to love the husband, etc. Very little togetherness is involved in such teachings. The marriage becomes your-job-my-job. Each has their responsibility or job to do. For example, the wife’s job is to cook, clean, raise the children, and provide sexual satisfaction to the husband. The husband’s job is to make money, fix things around the house, cut the grass, etc. I grew up in a family where such separation didn’t seem evident to me as a principle of the household. We didn’t have a sense of this is your job and my job based on gender. My mother would cut the grass just as my father would. My father would cook just as my mother would.
An Example of Food
Food, believe it or not, is another area where slavery abounds. How so? The purpose of food is to provide energy for the physical body. However, we have made eating into an event. What has happened is that eating has become a source of pleasure instead of nourishment. We like the grand dining places and the well prepared and presented food. What is the purpose of that? To eat, extract energy, and then extricate the waste.
An Example of Sex
The same applies to sex. Our bodies want sex. What is the primary purpose of sex? The primary purpose of sex is to procreate. Sure there is pleasure and sure there is a sense of lovemaking in a relationship by the use of sex. Note that the lovemaking aspect of sex can exist even between unmarried couples. Anyway, a married couple begins to have those sensual feelings in their bodies and/or minds. They look to the spouse (or mate) for sexual satisfaction and then relieve themselves. The fire has been extinguished and life can go on. Again, we need sex to quench our bodily thirst and hunger. If the spouse doesn’t satisfy then we tend to look for other ways to be sexually fulfilled or at the very least learn to live miserably. We think that doing without will help but then we are caught in the same trap again, that is, we NEED to do without it in order to survive. I should point out that there is a way to control even this powerful urge.
We Need Jesus
When will we learn to stop looking at all of the other stuff and look to Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ can teach us a whole lot because he walked the earth just like us and had to deal with the same problems. What did he do? He constantly looked to the father. He was in constant communion with the Father. He needed the Father just as we really need Christ. Jesus told his disciples that they couldn’t do anything without him. I believe that applies to us as well. The Bible declares that Jesus Christ was the light that gives life to every person on this earth. So once again—we need Jesus Christ.
Now you may say, "Wait a minute! Didn’t you imply that needing something was bad?" The question is "need for what?" To have no need would imply a meaningless life. That is, if we didn’t need something to fulfill us then our life would have no real purpose. Therefore, I propose that we need something to bring this fulfillment to ourselves. This fulfillment cannot be intrinsically within us because then we wouldn’t even need God to define our existence. Man has already attempted to define life without God. God created all things and to say that the created thing has no need of the creator seems ridiculous to me. That would imply that nothing created has a purpose and that God created everything on a whim or just because. In such a case there would be no link between the created thing and the creator except for the fact that one was created and one was the creator. There could be no real fellowship because we have no purpose. However, the Bible reveals to us that we do have a purpose and we do have a link to God. This link to God came in the form of Jesus Christ. If God had no purpose for us and didn’t care about us (how could you care for something that you created that has no purpose whatsoever?), then why would he send Jesus Christ to deliver us from our sin and to reconcile us to himself?
I submit to you that our lives are defined by the purpose of God. God defines who we are. Therefore, we need Him in order to experience true life and happiness. We don’t need sex in the overall context. We don’t need food (apart from the nourishment of the body). The only purpose of food, as I stated previously, is to provide nourishment (energy) to our carnal bodies. So above all else we need the Creator. We need God. We need the Christ, our one and only link to the Father. Ultimately, we need God, the creator of all things. Without him our lives would be meaningless and empty. Without God we would have no real option except to live a miserable life or to live an unfulfilled life. Without God all would be meaningless because we would be chasing the wind never finding the thing that we think we need—that we really need, namely true life—God.
So what do you do when all else fails? Realize that you have been chasing the wind. Realize that you were always on the wrong path that led you deeper into your own bondage. Realize that you need Jesus. What does it mean to need Jesus? We will discuss that in another article. Suffice it for me to say that you need to realize who you really are and Jesus Christ is how you can acquire that valuable revelation. Knowing Christ, and thus God, is how we can experience true fulfillment and the answers to all of our questions. The more we seek for happiness and fulfillment apart from God the more we will traverse into oblivion. The more we strive to find happiness apart from Christ, the more we will be bound by our own perceived needs.
Riches are not the answer. Prestige is not the answer. Spirituality is not the answer. Being a good person and going to church is not the answer. The answer is God! When all else fails, then turn to God for the answer. The failure of your past attempts should be an indication that you are on the wrong path. Go to a new path. Jesus said that there is only one road that leads to eternal life and there are only a few that will find it. Are you seeking for the path to life? If so then realize that God is the source of all life and therefore it seems only reasonable that you seek Him. Anything else would only lead you into misery since they could never fulfill you and bring you the true life that you so desperately want. As a matter of fact, I believe that we all (or most all people) instinctively seek for the truth. The problem is that many have not identified what that truth is and therefore don’t know what direction to traverse. In such a case, these people try this and try that without knowing that God is the answer to their craving for true life—for truth.
So when all else fails, stop and abandon all that you have done because they were all wrong. You will have to start all over again but this time make God the object of your affection, the destination of your path, and the goal of your heart. Realize that God is the answer to the craving of your heart for life, for fulfillment, happiness, and truth. Seek the truth at all cost. Nothing you can do apart from God will mean anything so why pursue them. So when all else fails jump ship and swim to shore because there you will find God.
It would be helpful to know before hand that you don't have to experiment with a multitude of solutions. Turn to God's way first and save yourself a lot of time and energy. Amen
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