Why Are We Miserable?
James 4:4 Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Have you every looked at your surroundings and wondered how you got where you are? I am not speaking of geography. I am talking about looking down at the scale of life and gasping in horror. I am talking about looking at your situation and asking, What happened? This is not how I planned my life. Why am I so miserable?
I have in my misery, looked around and asked, How did I get here? I had to realize of course that I got to a specific place by walking in that direction for years. I had to realize that I cannot walk towards God and towards self at the same time. I cannot pursue self and expect to be close to God.
I still however, try to do this all the time. I daily try to straddle the two paths, and I find daily that I cannot do it. I start out the day following God and I find myself, ten minutes later, following the path of my pride, anger, selfishness and appetite. I walk a hundred miles down the path of self and then I wonder why I am not close to God.
James asks, Do you want to know why you live in a state of unrest and misery? It is because you are trying to walk two different paths and you are doing neither very well. You are living, torn in two, because you think you can have all the world has to offer and have God at the same time. You try to feed your appetites with the world and in doing so you pursue your own misery and destruction.
James says that no matter what my life problems appear to be, my primary need is always to turn to God. I may have health problems, money problems, or relationship problems. I may think I need a thousand different things, but what I always need at this moment is to turn to God and keep my gaze on him. Only then does all the chaos around me fall into its proper place.
I want to follow God but I also want to feed my appetite for immediate gratification. James says however, that when I pursue my destructive appetite, I place myself in opposition to God, which can and should always cause me discomfort. Does this mean I lose my salvation every time I pursue self? No, of course not. I can be saved by God and still pursue my own misery. For better or worse, He allows me this choice.
I can walk a thousand miles from God and if I will but turn around, I will find him right there. I can return to my right relationship with God if I will but follow him. This is always my primary need, to turn from my self and keep my gaze focused on God.