Updated: May 15, 2019
If God is love and I am good, then why does my life suck and circumstances fall apart?
Religion has always been an avenue that people have used to bargain for God’s blessing. If we do our part, we think that God will do his part and grant us our desires. The world can sometimes seem like a random and frightening place. People turn to God and religion in hope of finding some measure of security, protection, and favor. I get that.
However, the notion of pleasing or obeying God in order to gain favorable life circumstances as “God’s blessing” is false. God is not going to change the fact that the world is characterized by impermanence. God created the world like this, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Circumstances were never intended to be the source of peace, happiness, contentment, well-being, and freedom. There is no measure of pleasing or obeying God that is ever going to change the fundamental nature of the world.
As a rule of thumb in life, responding to situations as they require with wisdom and skill will yield a better result than responding out of stupidity and incompetence. If you sow seeds of love, kindness, and compassion in your life you are more likely to experience a quality of life that is more enriching than if you sowed seeds of hatred, selfishness, and bitterness. You can eliminate a lot of human pain in your life by simply responding to situations as they require. If you are in an abusive relationship the situation may require you to leave and terminate that relationship, and doing so would remove yourself from the pain of that person’s abuse.
However, you cannot mix and match together any set of circumstances to produce lasting peace and well-being because circumstances are not the source of peace and well-being.
But the idea that obedience, faithfulness, and spiritual maturity should result in God blessing your life with favorable circumstances is simply not true. If this were true, God failed Jesus, who experienced levels of physical, mental, emotional and psychological pain that few people ever have or will.
The reason why people are so caught up with seeking favor from God is that they wrongly assume that peace and happiness has something to do with better life circumstances, and that God is looking down at the world and pulling the strings to bless or curse us. This is the spiritual ignorance that too often drives our lives and relationship to God. It is the spiritual ignorance at the root of our suffering.
In our human view, circumstances are classified as either “good” or “bad,” but this view falls short of the truth. No circumstance can strip you of the choice and power to: create an empowering context for yourself; make good on what really matters to you; have a breakthrough in transformation; give expression to your true Self; honor your highest truth; be authentic; and love. No circumstance can cut you off from the kingdom of heaven within you where true belonging, abundance, harmony and well-being are found. Even the worst of circumstances never threaten these inner realities.
People will also sometimes entertain the notion of "why bad things happen to good people." Once again, that "good"/"bad" dulaism is misleading. Fundamentally, all people are good. There is no Santa-God in the sky, determing who has been naughty or nice in order to properly distrubute divine rewards and punishments. What we deem as "rewards" or "punishments" in our cirmstances are either a product of the individual or collective choices we make, or the result of circunstances outside of human control.
The human experience involves pain. If you hit your finger with a hammer there will be physical pain. If you lose a loved one, there will be emotional pain. There will always be pleasure and pain as part of the human experience and no amount enlightenment will ever change that. You are not here to eliminate that kind of human pain. You are here to end your suffering, which is the inner anguish we bring upon ourselves because of what we think it all means.
Let’s say this week something unusual and unexpected happens in your life that really messes things up for you. “Luck” would say you were the victim of forces outside your control. Onlookers might offer sympathy, recognizing how unfortunate your circumstances are and the misfortune they caused. Inside you’re thinking, “Why me? This sucks!”
“Luck” is defined as “an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another.” Luck refers to that which happens to a person beyond their control. If something happens to your advantage, it’s “good luck.” If it results in something negative, it’s “bad luck.”
Science does not support the concept of “luck,” and instead says “luck is probability taken personally.” In other words, science holds that everything that happens to you is simply a matter of numerical odds. A brick falling on a person walking is not a function of that person’s “luck,” but is instead the result of a collection of explainable occurrences. Statistically, every person walking near the building was just as likely to have the brick fall on them. Anything can happen to anybody, but when it happens to you, an added significance is applied and you seek some explanation for it or apply some concept to it, like luck.
The concept of luck relates to circumstances. People hope for “good luck,” which implies something positive happening, and fear “bad luck,” which is equated with some unfortunate occurrence. The entire mentality is based on the fallacy that our well-being is contingent upon our circumstances.
Christians sometimes share in this fallacy by living as if their peace, security, identity, worth, identity, purpose, contentment and fulfillment are determined by circumstances. The value of God is seen in his ability to influence life’s situations for the good or offer protection from adversity or misfortune. One of the most common forms of prayer is asking God to intervene and change our circumstances. We often equate God’s “blessing” with things going our way.
Jesus continuously pressed people to see that the source of their deepest desires was not outside themselves but inside them. Jesus announced that God’s kingdom had come. Listening bystanders began looking around befuddled. Jesus said they needed to look inside themselves to find this kingdom. Jesus taught that the same spirit within him that connected him to love, peace, freedom, wholeness and well-being is that same spirit within each of us.
Stop! Turn it over in your mind. You’re neither a victim of bad luck or God's curse. What is available to you in that moment is to draw upon the love, peace, freedom, and fulfillment that is within you and constitutes your true Self. Turn within to the spiritual resources of the kingdom of heaven within. Rather than approach your circumstance with anger, stress, resentment, and fear, instead allow yourself to operate within that higher spiritual presence and awareness within you.
To expand this thinking to the larger context of injustice, oppression, poverty and hardship in our world, these are not the result of God's judgement. Neither is wealth and comfortable cirsumstances the result of God's blessing. The condition of our world is an extension and expression of the choices we make as human beings. If we honor that reality of belonging, abundance, harmony and well-being within us and have the courage to live it we can create a world that works for everyone. This is the inner anarch we need - uprooting from within us the false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that pit human beings against each other, and instead following that voice of human harmony and solidarity within.