The truly miserable don’t even enjoy the company of themselves let alone others.
The image is of Ebenezer Scrooge a fictional character in the timeless classic by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Story. His character, a contemptuous, miserable and a notorious tightwad has been immortalized for generations. Such was the mark left that to display any of his characteristics is to earn the moniker of Scrooge.
With regards to the word misery there a couple of applications for example in Latin the word for misery is miserabilis and carries with it a number of meanings, for example, it can refer to a state or condition of wretchedness, someone who is poor, a miser, or an unhappy person. In the French Classic Les Miserable, for example, the condition of misery is more outward, or physical, a state of wretchedness, while in a Christmas Story it’s more of an unhappy or miserable state. Scrooge depicts this well.
So for the sake of this blog, we will be going with the Scrooge-like understanding (Unhappy or joylessness) of miserable rather than the Les Miserable kind.
As the story goes Scrooge was just plain miserable. A real bah humbug! He was just an old grumpy person; dissatisfied with life and people so much so that not even all his riches could bring him joy and contentment.
I’m sure many of you have known or know of people just like old Mr. Scrooge, just all around unhappy people and in some cases very toxic. There is no joy in their life and no matter how hard you try you can’t snap them out of it. These kinds of personalities, if allowed to, can become very toxic. Their misery can be affectious bringing other people down especially those struggling in this area.
Generally speaking (I understand there are those who are unhappy internally, but externally you wouldn’t know it), these folks are fairly easy to identify. Usually, they’re grumbling about someone or something, very rarely if ever happy and not afraid to let you know either. Their day to day countenance is very telling.
Misery really doesn’t like the company! Now, how about you? What is your attitude towards life and things? Do you have joy and peace in your life? Do you struggle with joyless in your life? Are you having a hard time finding peace in your life?
While I understand that misery is seemingly a staple of the world, but what of the Christian, what is our lot, how should we view life? What should our attitude be towards life and things? How should we respond to the bombardment of issues and challenges that we may face daily? Are we miserable and we don’t even know it?
By way of self-examination consider the following. While certainly not comprehensive, Do you:
- Finde Fault in everything and everyone? People who are generally miserable are critical of everything, including their spouse, church, pastor, life in general.
- Shifting blame elsewhere. It’s everyone else’s fault I’m in this situation or feel this way.
- Live a thankless life. You can’t see the good that you do have in life. You’re too focused on what you have allowed being negative things in your life.
- Get easily offended. Every little thing said or done intentional or otherwise presses you deeper and deeper into a miserable state.
- You live in a general state of discontentedness. Seemingly nothing makes you happy or brings you joy.
While I understand things happen, the burdens of life are such that there are times when we’re unhappy. Our circumstances and even certain people in our life get the best of us. Things build up and you get discouraged and then it actually becomes easier to just stay that way. In some ways it’s actually a coping mechanism- just stay unhappy because it’s too hard to work through the challenges. Basically throwing in the towel.
It takes a great deal of personal discipline to stay self-regulated as far as your temperament is concerned. Christians are to keep these attributes in check and to do this we should focus mainly on Christ who is, as the scripture states, the source of all our joy and strength. I think of the words to that hymn Constantly Abidin –
Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
Constantly abiding, rapture divine;
He never leaves me lonely, whispers, oh, so kind:
“I will never leave thee”—Jesus is mine.
John Wesley had this to say about the Christian and misery:
I cannot think that when God sent us into the world, he had irreversibly decreed that we should be perpetually miserable in it. If our taking up the Cross imply our bidding adieu to all joy and satisfaction, how is it reconcilable with what Solomon expressly affirms of religion, that ‘her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace?’
As Christians, we are the most blessed people on earth. We have been given so much at the gracious hand of God. Much to be thankful for! Paul says in Ephesians 1:3 that we HAVE BEEN blessed with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Those blessings are to be realized by Christians now!! Rather than being unhappy why not meditate on the good that you have at the hand of God now. If you were to write a list, two columns one listing the blessings in your life and the other containing the negative, which one would fill up first?
As Christians, we have been delivered from much. When discontented about life and how bad you think you might have it, think about what you have been delivered from and further what you were delivered to. As lost people, we lived a life of bondage to sin now to a life of peace serving and following Jesus. A life that is now filled with meaning, purpose, and promise. Paul said it best in Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This verse is quoted a lot but I wonder how many actually live by it.
Another cause as to why Christians may be unhappy is found in where their affections lie. Walking in the middle of the road between the world and godliness or as the scripture states being neither hot nor cold will lead to discontentment. Because we have been called out of the world the scriptures state in Colossians 3:1-2 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above not on the things on the earth.” This I believe is one of the BIGGEST reasons for the joylessness amongst Christians – MISPLACED AFFECTIONS!
Lastly, keep your eyes upon Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. It’s all about him, what he did for us in saving us from the penalty of sin, what he is doing in our lives now, and what he has prepared for us in glory. The scripture says in Isaiah 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: When the hustle and bustle life gets you down when you are struggling personally when no one seems to understand you and finding joy in your life seems beyond reach, think on Jesus and meditate on his goodness towards you.
Regardless of your lot in life may you rest in the peace and love of God which surpasses all human understanding. May each day of yours be filled with his presence and joy as you reflect on who you are now in Christ and the hope that is set before you.
As they say in Latin – Felicem Natalem Christi – Merry Christmas