The grass is always greener on the other side, is a saying that means,no matter how good I have it, there is always something that looks better. No matter how good my life is, there is always someone who has more, and what they have is what I need to make me happy. Last week we heard that this way of thinking can destroy us because we will either be consumed by an obsession for more, and die trying to get it, or we might get what we want only to find that it doesn’t satisfy us, so we still end up looking for more. The answer, we heard, is to trust God as the Good Shepherd.
If God is the Good Shepherd, then God is the one who has led us to this moment in life, given us what we have, and God is the one who will lead us forward.If God is our Good Shepherd, then we should be content knowing that we have all we need for this moment and that we will have all we need for the future.God is truly enough. But trusting God and freeing ourselves from this greener grass phenomenon doesn’t mean that we won’t set goals and dream dreams that we hope will lead us to greener grass in the future.
It is good for us to have dreams and make plans for our future. It is good for us to see the things God has for us and to set ourselves on a path to achieve those goals. The Bible says, where there is no vision – the people perish. If we have no vision for our future, no plans and dreams of what God wants for us, then we have nothing to work toward. We need to set goals, and it is good to plan, and dream, and ask God to show us the good things he wants for us, but as we do this, there is one reality we have to keep in mind. No matter how much effort we give, planning we make, and no matter how much we think we deserve something – we don’t always get what we want. We don’t always get what we plan for. We don’t always get that greener grass.
I have talked with many couples whose dream was to have children. They planned for them, worked for them, and they are great people who deserve to have them because they would be great parents, but the children never came. They struggle through the pain and disappointment of watching their friends and coworkers having families,knowing that children for them might never come. They did everything they could, but their dreams never became a reality.
Many people dream about moving up in their job. They work hard to get the promotion, they position themselves to advance in their career, and as they look around at the work force they humbly believe they deserve the advancements that they see other people getting. But year after year they are passed over for jobs wondering if they will ever get ahead.
My first year working as an assistant theater manager, I worked under a man who was completely incompetent. I don’t say that lightly, he really was in over his head, and I bailed him out many times. He was finally fired, and the company brought in another manager. I have to say, I was a little hurt. I could have done the job, and in time I was doing as much, if not more, than the new manager, but I wasn’t given the promotion. My District Manager even told me that the company thought of me as a co-manager at my theater, but when another manager job became available in our town, I didn’t get that job either. No matter how hard we work, and how much we think we deserve the advancement, sometimes we just don’t get what we want.
For some people the struggle is finding true love. We long for a relationship that will be meaningful and long lasting, we might even pray for the right person to come along, and we can read God’s word and think that we deserve it because the Bible says it is not good for us to be alone, but for many of us, that kind of true love seems unattainable.
For others, what they long for, pray for, and work for is healing and strength, and yet no matter how much they eat right, exercise regularly, and follow the advice of their doctors, sickness and disease happens anyway. We see it in our lives, and we see it in the ones we love. Our dreams of healthy and strong lives never becomes a reality.
The desire we have for what we see in someone else’s life, this greener grass,is real. It’s not that we are greedy, or jealous, or filled with envy – at times we just have a healthy desire for more, and a longing for what we believe God wants for us, but that greener grass never comes and we are let asking ourselves:
How long must I wait for ?
How long must I go through ?
We ask ourselves how long we have to wait for the greener grass of our goals and dreams to become reality, and we ask God how long we have to go through difficult periods of pain and disappointment.
When we walk through these dark valleys of disappointment, we have choices to make. Some people choose to be Bitter. Being angry with God because we don’t get what we think we deserve is a choice. It is not a good choice, but it is a choice. Many people choose to be angry with God because they feel God has let them down and not answered their prayers or fulfilled their dreams.While being angry and disappointed with God is a real emotion that God can certainly handle, it is not where we should stay. When we choose to remain bitter with God, it closes the door to God’s love and grace. When we choose to be bitter we are not able to move forward into the future God has for us.
We can also choose to be Envious. It is a choice we make to look into everyone else’s life, be jealous of what we see, and allow that envy to consume us. Last week we talked about how envy actually destroys our lives because it leads us to always wanting more,and to doing things we might not otherwise do to get our hands on what we think we want. This choice never ends well so once again, this is not a good choice.
We can also choose to feel Entitled. We can choose to walk around feeling like we are owed all we want, and dream about, but this is a form of pride that is never satisfied so once again leads to problems. The Bible says pride comes before a fall.
Many people also choose to be Anxious, or filled with fear. When fear and anxiety set in, we being to think that nothing will ever change, nothing will improve, and nothing will ever be good in our lives. This kind of fear robs us of joy, and leads us into dark times of despair and desperation. When God tells us over 300 times in the Bible to “fear not”, we know that fear and anxiety is a choice.
We often see other people making these choices when they don’t get what they want, and this is often how we feel as well, but these choices all lead to deeper darkness. We need to make different choices it we want to experience hope, and peace, and once again it is King David who points us in the right direction.
David knows what it’s like to want the good things that God has promised, and yet he also knows the pain of walking through difficult and disappointing times waiting for it to happen. David was told he would be the king of Israel long before he became the king and so for years, David had to run and hide from his enemies. For years David had to walk through rocky soil asking himself how long he had to wait and how long he had to suffer until he might experience greener grass. David pours out his heart to God in Psalm 13:1-4.
David had some choices here about how to handle his feelings. He could be bitter, and angry with God because he believed that God had forgotten him. He could be envious of what Saul was getting as the King when David had been told he was the king. He could have felt entitled and demanded that God give him the kingdom he had promised, or he could have given into anxiety and fear and just given up on God all together. David could have made any one of these four choices, but he didn’t. David made choices that moved him through the rocky soil to greener grass. Psalm 13:5-6
This is the way forward through difficult times. The first thing we need to do is trust in God’s unfailing love. No matter what we may be going through, no matter where we might be today, and where it looks like our life is heading, we need to trust that God loves us, and that God’s grace and love is sufficient for us.
The Apostle Paul suffered with some kind of affliction. We don’t know what it was, but we know that it was severe enough that three times he asked God to take it away, but God didn’t. Paul didn’t get bitter, or envious, or feel entitled to healing, or anxious about the future, instead Paul trusted that God loved him and would provide for him. Paul heard God say, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul trusted that God’s love and grace was enough for him, and that God’s love would see him through.
The second thing we need to do to make it through rocky soil is to rejoice in God’s salvation. David knew that in God’s time, and in God’s way, God would rescue him and make him the king. We need to trust in God’s power and goodness in our own lives. God’s salvation is here for all of us and this isn’t just a salvation that is ours in heaven, this is a salvation that can be ours today. God’s salvation – or gift of life – is ours now and if we can rejoice in this life, it gives us hope for the future. Rejoicing in God’s salvation helps us believe that greener grass is possible with God.
God’s salvation is always certain, Paul tells us this in Romans 8:31b-32, 37-39. In all things we have God’s salvation which means we can choose not to be bitter or afraid, but to rejoice and sing, and that is third thing David does. Psalm 13:6.
Sing to the Lord. David looked at his life, saw the bounty of God’s blessing and provision and he sang to God – he gave thanks for God’s goodness. Giving thanks to God is a choice we can make at all times. It might be hard to do when we are going through difficult times, and when we are feeling hopeless and disappointed, but it is actually during these dark times that we need to be focused on God’s goodness, and sing songs of praise. It is gratitude that helps us be content in every situation – even when we don’t get what we want. It is giving thanks that lifts our eyes off what we don’t have, and helps us see all that we do have.
David could have remained focused on his enemies that were chasing him, and he could have constantly thought about Saul who was still the King of Israel, but he didn’t. David lifted up his eyes to see the love of God, the salvation God provides, and David sang about the bounty of God’s blessing in his life. David sang about all God had given him, and all the ways God was his Good Shepherd.
So let me ask this:
Where in your life can you see God’s goodness?
As we wait for the future, as we wait for God’s promises, as we wait for greener grass – where do we see God’s love?
As we go through painful times of disappointment, and even despair, where can we see God’s salvation?
Answering this question can help us keep moving forward in life and faith. It is seeing God’s goodness that helps us have faith in God’s promises and provision, which can lead us through rocky soil to green pastures, still waters, and all the fullness of life.
Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free
1. Sometimes longing for greener grass can be good. God gives us hopes and dreams to inspire and motivate us.
- What are some of the good things you long for?
2. Not all the dreams and plans given to us by God are fulfilled quickly, easily, or at all. What dreams you are waiting for? What struggles are you walking through?
- How long must I wait for ?
- How long must I go through ?
4. When we don’t get what we want, we can choose to feel bitter, envious, entitled or anxious.
- Which of these feelings do you most often experience in the face of disappointment?
- Identify a time when you experienced these feelings.
- In what ways was this your choice?
5. David had to wait a long time before he became King. Those years of waiting were filled with opposition and strife. During that time, David wrote Psalm 13. Read Psalm13
6. How can these three things help you wait and endure?
- Trust in God’s Unfailing Love
- Rejoice in God’s Salvation
- Sing to the Lord (Giving Thanks)
7. Where in your life today can you see God’s goodness? When you identify this:
- Give Thanks for God’s Love
- Sing God’s Praise