How to Be Miserable: And How to Cheer Up!
Julie BarrierDr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, have taught conferences on marriage and ministry in 35 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of Preach It, Teach It www.preachitteachit.org, providing free resources in 10 languages to 5 million visitors in 229 countries. The Barriers pastored 35 years at Casas Church in Arizona, Julie has served as a worship minister, concert artist and adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has authored or composed of over 500 published works.
- 2013 Sep 15
Solomon was an A-lister. He made the Hollywood pantheon of gorgeous billionaire gods and goddesses with front-page cover fame look like losers. The Israeli monarch possessed wealth, women, wisdom and fame. Yet he was absolutely miserable. Why? Solomon means “shalom,” peace. In 2 Samuel 12: 25, Nathan gave Solomon another name, Jedidiah, or “loved by God.”
Ecclesiastes reveals the naked truth. The ruler was filthy rich and uber-powerful. Everything was gold-plated. He was smarter than Einstein. And he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. The lusty king had 1,000 one-night stands and never felt guilty about jilting the women in his life. He just sent them back to his burgeoning harem. So why was he so sad? What went so horribly wrong?
I’ll ask you the same question.
Are you miserable, disgruntled, discontent or just plain crabby? Solomon’s initial words in Ecclesiastes will cause you to grow gloomy, desperate, even suicidal. But, believe it or not, the most depressing book in the Bible (other than Job!) can teach you how to be truly happy.
Ecclesiastes 9:2-3, the jaded ruler laments:
“Anything’s possible. It’s one fate for everybody—righteous and wicked, good people, bad people, the nice and the nasty, worshipers and non-worshipers, committed and uncommitted. I find this outrageous—the worst thing about living on this earth—that everyone’s lumped together in one fate. Is it any wonder that so many people are obsessed with evil? Is it any wonder that people go crazy right and left? Life leads to death. That’s it. Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone.” The Message
Bummer. I feel worse already.
Pubmedhealth.com states that brain chemistry or genetic predisposition can trigger depression. Long-term pain, sleeping problems, certain types of cancer, steroids and under-active thyroid can trigger a downward mood swing. Stressful life events such as abuse, neglect, broken relationships, failure, job loss, long-tem family illness, chronic pain and social isolation are just a few reasons people spiral downward.
Solomon the sage gave us two key verses that can help us claw our way out of the pit of despair to the highlands of peace and joy. They’re really quite simple.
Ecclesiastes 11:8: “However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1 “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
1. Enjoy your life.
Dr. David Ferguson taught me a great lesson about delightful, abundant life. (John 10:10). Abundant life can only be lived in the present. If you are bound up with guilt from the past or paralyzed with fear from of the future, you will never find fun in the moment. I have a daughter who is seriously, chronically ill. If I don’t revel in the moments with her, cherishing her love, her little girls and the kindred spirit that we share, I lose everything. I borrow trouble for the future, dreading the worst. I get angry with God and it shakes my faith. And I ruin my health by living in the misery of “what if’s.”
I must enjoy each moment-savoring them, treasuring each one. That is where I experience God’s presence, grace and power.
2. Remember your Creator.
Solomon’s second secret is a doozy. When Jesus was talking to the Ephesians in Revelation chapter three, He told them to remember their first Love. Do you remember when you met Jesus? He wasn’t just an ideology, He was the very real Friend who laid down His life for you. Simply remembering how much Jesus loves you, protects you, plans your every moment can change you.
I love my husband Roger. We’ve been married a long time. I delight in how he calls me “Muffin” when I feel like “Pumpkin.” I remember how he read the Bible to me over the phone when we were dating. I remember the way he gazed into my eyes and took me in his arms to kiss me for the first time. (This was no small task since I am very short. Smooching usually involved a porch step.) His love for me has never wavered.
You see, remembering how much he loves me makes me look forward to waking up in the morning, just to see his face.
When I remember God, I remember our adventures together. I’ve journeyed through devastating valleys and ecstatic mountaintops with Him. I’m watching my beloved parents die…ever so slowly as they become more elderly. But as I feel sadness overwhelm me, I remember holding my first daughter in my arms when she breathed her last breath. I recall how God’s grace was enough during those horrific months as a young mother. Reminders of my kind Savior brings me joy in my not so pleasant present.
Roger and I sat in our driveway today after church. For the first time, we were brutally honest about the hurts and losses in our lives. And the power and glory of God poured into the front seat. We counted His blessings. Wow. What a list! God also reminded us of an old sermon illustration from one of Roger’s “sugar sticks” (greatest hits in the sermon department). Pastor Charles Spurgeon was once asked if he were dragged to the village square to be martyred for Christ tomorrow at noon, would he have the strength to stand strong? He said, “No.” “But tomorrow at noon I will…” We can enjoy today because there is grace for tomorrow.
That, my friends, was Solomon’s secret. Enjoy and remember. Try it. You’ll like it.