Do you live under a dark cloud?

Most of us know at least one person who believes others get all the luck and they don't have much of a chance to be happy or successful. 

Blog. Woman looking up. 4.19I think of my friend "Ellie," whom I've known for years. Whenever life disappoints her she says something like, "Well, that's the way it goes for me. It's that old black cloud that's been parked over my head since I was born."  

Where she got that idea I don't know, but no one has been able to convince her she's wrong. 

Ellie remains convinced she's unlucky. Therefore, everything turns out less well for her than for people around her. End of discussion.

I've come to think she feels a perverse kind of satisfaction when she can say, "See there? I told you everything happens to me and nothing ever works out right!"  

Maybe Ellie's mindset isn't far from from our own, just a little bit. Or even a lotta bit.

Our outlook defines the "world" we live in

Christians are not immune to this way of thinking. 

Most of us would confess we've asked God at times, "Why?" "How?" "When will this be over?"

Even as people who know and trust our Lord, it's still true that how we see determines what we see and yes, it often takes courage and strength to look on the bright side. 

Maybe that's because it takes less energy to look down than up.  

Negativity is rather like gravity. It exerts an invisible pull that drags us down. 

Always, we get to choose

A favorite pastor who always seemed to be looking up, not down, said the first thing he did every morning was say, "Thank you, Lord, for another day. This is the day You have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Next he took a few moments and ran through his reasons to thank God.  

I knew him well enough to know he had his share of troubles and sorrows in his life, yet he deliberately turned his attention toward God's goodness and power.  

That changes things, doesn't it?

We can keep our eyes on ourselves--on our problems and our limited abilities--and panic.

Or we can remind ourselves that as believers in Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth is on our side, which shrinks our challenges down to their rightful size. 

Christians, too, can hit one of those times when everything appears to us to be unsolvable and we're drifting toward hopelessness. That's the time to remind ourselves Who has the last word: 

"I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"  --Jeremiah 32:27  NIV

Always, we find what we look for 

Even in the worst times we still have a choice: We can fixate on what's wrong or we can remind ourselves what we know is right and good and true.  

The Apostle Paul knew all about that. For years he traveled far and wide to tell people about Jesus and repeatedly experienced the worst kind of hardships, including beatings and imprisonments. Even then, he wrote to the Philippians:

Finally, brothers [and sisters,] whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.  --Philippians 4:8  NIV

In those few words Paul shows us how to shed our own "black cloud": 

Always asking God's help, we resolve to day after day fasten our thoughts on what is good. When we do that, over time the darkness of everyday life will lose its pull on us. 

It's our mindset that matters most

Chuck Swindoll summed it up well: "We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. Our attitude is everything."

As always, the Bible stated this same truth centuries before Swindoll: 

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he ... .   --Proverbs 23:7  NKJV

Perhaps you, too, know this and believe it, but still must keep relearning this truth again and again. (Me, too.) The good news is we can start over tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that every day of our lives. Today's failure is never final.

As Swindoll said, it's all about how we react to what happens to us. (Or doesn't.) That leaves us with no one to blame, but isn't that a good thing? 

Doesn't this mean we get to decide whether we will walk in sunshine or live under a "dark cloud"?  

Let's head our daily checklist with these two questions to think about: 

  • What am I thinking in my heart?
  • How happy/contented/hopeful have I decided to be? 

Only you (and I) can come up with answers for ourselves. Think of that as the ultimate power statement.

Thankful for each new start,


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