|Picture from Jim Makos|
Because both are true in life. And understanding this is spiritual wellness for you.
They trend seasonally. One season you see posts on Facebook about doing what you can to improve your lot in life. When people get tired of that (tire of their ineffective efforts), they look for other maxims in life that explain their situations, and then out comes FB posts on meant-to-be-will-be life perspectives. And then people treat it as though it's something new. They like the sound of it and then it trends.
But actually, these two life perspectives move in a round-robin kind of series that alternates in trend, coming and going and coming again. That's what Ecclesiastes says. Nothing is really new under the sun. And they are both necessary like what the Yin and Yang Chinese philosophy suggests---there's got to be an equilibrium of all opposite and extreme forces.
But many people are biased to one extremity. They laugh at any idea about balancing self-efforts and destiny. Those who believe only in self-efforts are like gods who want to control everything and imagine that they decide what happens, not just in their lives, but in the world. In contrast, those who wait for things to just happen to them are like ancient monks that retreat to the wilderness or high mountains and just wait for anything to come. They can't see how both extremes need to be present, and in balance, in their lives.
In fact, the bible teaches both. You can't have anything happen to you (or in this world) without God, but faith without works is dead. You can't have just one and then ignore the other. Both should work in your life---like yin and yang. There's a time for making things happen and a time for waiting for things to happen. Without understanding how both works, all you get in life is distress. And that's not good for your wellness.
But get this straight---in the end, it's actually all about trusting what's meant to be will be. What God has decided and declared will happen, regardless of whether we act on it or not. For instance, even if we were all atheists, Christ will still return and be King. Even if we don't believe it, there will still be Judgment and Hell. What happens in this world and beyond DOES NOT depend on us. It depends on what God has decided should be. As Christ said, if the people remain silent, the rocks will shout.
Now, our efforts should all be geared to that---to what God has decided. This is where self-effort comes in and it is how self effort can be of any use. We make things happen according to what God has decided. And then we wait. We cannot decide the final results, only God can. All we can do is make things happen to a certain extent. Now, if you endeavor to also decide the final results, that's when you get stressed out and frustrated and wreck your wellness. This is the pitfall most people end up in at the end of their lives. They try to be a god and realize they are not.
Making things happen too much makes you out to be a Martha---worried and upset about so many things. Merely waiting all the time, on the other hand, DOES NOT make you out to be a Mary. Mary didn't just wait passively---she sat at Jesus' feet and listened. That's the most important thing in life. Thus, when she cried before Jesus about Lazarus' death, Jesus wept and Lazarus was brought back to life. See? Mary made things happen by waiting on the Lord. That's what life and wellness is really all about.
If you are too work-oriented and were in Bethany, you'd probably drag Lazarus' body out yourself and start CPR to revive him back to life.
However, in a sense, yes, we are like "gods." Jesus himself said it.
"Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— [John 10.34-35]But only so if we depend entirely on God, not ourselves. Hence, it says that He is the GOD of gods [Deuteronomy 10.17]. We can make things happen if we wait on the Lord, for they that wait on Him shall renew their strength. They shall soar high with wings like eagles.
What I do is this. When I do something, I give it my best shot. I pray for it. I try to fix or edit them to make them look their best. But then, I don't mind how they finally end up. I trust God that he works out everything for good to those who love him. I don't let results disappoint or frustrate me. If it ends up wrong despite my efforts, I wait on God to fix it. I'm confident in God.
In fact, most times, God tells me to simply wait and do nothing. No effort. After deliberations with him (because often, I can't comprehend it when God tells me to do nothing but sit at his feet and wait and trust), I finally surrender and just relax and rest, taking things easy, even telling jokes, and that's when people misunderstand me, thinking I'm too carefree and insouciant. It used to bother me before, but I don't care anymore. So what if people misunderstand me?
I want to end with this. They say it's not your fault if you were born poor. But if you die still poor, then it's already your fault. You remember Lazarus? He died still poor, aside from being poor all his life. Was it his fault? Where did he end up? The rich man, on the other hand, was rich all his life and died rich. Yet, he ended up in hell. You say it's only a parable? Well, all of Jesus' parables are parables of truth.
Here's the thing---know what God has decided and pour your efforts on that. Whatever the result, be quietly content with God. That's true wellness.
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