LCN Article
Rise Above

July / August 2024

William Williams

I would be surprised to meet someone who has not felt depressed or unhappy at some point in life. How about you? True enough, some are more prone than others to fall prey to these feelings, and if we went through our lives never expecting to have problems we would surely be disappointed. But does knowing this really help? Why is it that the proverbial, “Could be worse!” more often feels like salt on an open wound?

It takes more than resignation or acceptance that “life is hard” to truly rise above discouragement and trouble. “Expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed,” as the saying goes, or someone might say, “No matter how bad your troubles, there’s always someone worse off than you.” Not very helpful, right? Few trials seem small while you are going through them, and most of us know this by hard experience. Pain is pain, whether it comes from the “little things” or from life-changing—even life-threatening—events. But all suffering, great or small, has the potential to shape the life of the sufferer.

I know of few people who accomplish more when their feelings are crushed or depressed than when they take a positive outlook despite their troubles. So, how do you change your perspective, and avoid falling into the vicious cycle of worrying or indulging negative feelings, which in turn wastes time, clouds judgment, and leads to more worry? You do it by setting a higher goal than anything this life has to offer, and making it the main focus of your life.

What is that goal? The Apostle Paul described it:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12–14).

Paul was well acquainted with grief; he had been beaten, stoned, ostracized, imprisoned, starved, shipwrecked, and more. He described his trials quite frankly (2 Corinthians 11:23–29). Yet, as an imperfect man in an imperfect world, Paul never gave up.

God rewards those who “diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6), and He equips them with the strength and knowledge they need to control their feelings and overcome every trial (2 Corinthians 10:4–5; 2 Timothy 1:7; 3:16–17). God’s way is a provable, successful way of life, if one is willing to test it and find that out (Malachi 3:10).

Just as the cycle of worry and depression leads only to greater loss and inability to cope with future trials, our continual attention to His word and His “upward call” strengthens us against the tide of negative feelings that can so easily ensnare us. At the same time, God’s word, when properly understood, gives us a perspective that sees beyond any human struggle, great or small, reasonable or unforeseen—or self-inflicted.

This is the path to happiness, positivity, and success—in this life and beyond.