Could Be Worse

Could Be Worse

Nehemiah 8: 10: "The joy of the Lord is your strength."

There is a children's book titled, Could Be Worse.
Could Be Worse is about an old grandfather whose two grandchildren complained that whatever
disaster happened, all he ever said was, "Could be worse."
  • The little girl cut her finger, and Grandpa said, "Could be worse."
  • The little boy lost his kite in a tree, and Grandpa said, "Could be worse."

    One day Grandpa overheard the young ones complaining about how boring Grandpa was,
    and that he never did anything exciting or had anything exciting happen to him.
    So, he called them over and told them about what had happened to him the previous night --
    how a great big bird had snatched him out of bed and carried him to the other side of the earth.
    He then related how he had managed to find his way back before morning, totally exhausted.

    What did the kids say?
    "Could be worse!"

    A lot of wisdom is bound up in that one phrase, "Could be worse."
    Those kids thought Grandpa was weird because that was his answer to every problem.
    But it's amazing how much comfort there is in meditating on how things might be worse than they are.
    Remember, how Satan shattered the peace of Eden by creating in Adam and Eve a false need
    for the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
    In the same way, Satan spoils our joy by getting us to concentrate on false needs.
    He causes us to think that certain things could be better for us.

    "Could Be Worse" Thinking

    One movement that has been touted as the solution to the lack of joy in Christians is positive thinking.
    Positive thinkers, possibility thinkers, and others like them, are always trying to get us to think
    on the positive side of things.
    Now we do need to be positive people.

    Positive thinkers would tell us, "Don't think negative thoughts.
    Negative thoughts are destructive to your self-image.
    If you want things to get better, you will have to imagine them getting better.
    Picture in your mind what your life would be like if things were better.
    If you do a good job of imagining the possibilities, have enough faith in your vision, and act as if
    it will happen, then God will make it happen
    But what if it doesn't happen?
    Then we get discontented.
    Concentrating on how things could be better always makes us unhappy because no matter
    how good things get, they could always be better.

    You buy your dream house, which you have been waiting to do for years.

  • You had it built especially for you.
  • You picked out the model.
  • You picked out the colors.
  • It's everything you ever wanted.
    You move in, and everything is beautiful... for a week.
    Then you start seeing how the place can be improved.

    It's the same way with us!
    Once we start thinking, "Could be better," we will never run out of things to complain about.
    That is the problem with the modern theory of positive thinking.
    Teachers of positive thinking encourage us to concentrate our thoughts on our own wants.
    They say that all things are accessible, if you think positively about them or visualize having them,
    and that, if you have enough faith, there is nothing that you want that you can not have.
    Positive thinking encourages us to indulge ourselves in the pursuit of false needs.
    It actually causes discontent.

    Modern positive thinking is the opposite of Biblical thinking.
    Modern positive thinking leads us to say, "I can have all things if only I believe strongly enough."
    Such teaching would encourage us to always concentrate on what we lack and be striving
    within ourselves to get it.
    If we can't get what we want, that becomes a problem and a sign of failing spiritually,
    and then we go to a psychologist to figure out what went wrong.

    Do you want to be joyful?
    Forget positive thinking!
    Start by learning how to be content.
    Follow the example of Grandpa in that children's book, and think of how things could be worse.
    Ninety-nine percent of the time things really could be worse.

    Only people like Job use their imaginations to determine how things could be worse.
  • "So a horse just stepped on your toe. "Could be worse!" It could have been an elephant."
  • "So, you had a car accident. "Could be worse!" You are still alive!"
    When you say, "Could be worse," you are humbly recognizing that God is in control of the world.
    What you are really saying is, "Could be worse, but it isn't."
    This makes us grateful to the God who has given us all good and perfect gifts, and this leads to rejoicing.
    When you say, "Could be better, "you're complaining against God, and complaining leads
    to bitterness and rebellion.

    Contentment and Courage!

    Isn't it odd?

  • If you look on the "dark side" how things could be worse, it makes you cheerful.
  • If you look on the "bright side" how things could get better, it makes you frustrated.
    The exception to this rule is when some injustice or mess ought to be righted, and you are
    legitimately doing something about it. This calls for a contented spirit.
    So, in any given circumstance we have two choices: contentment or courage.
    David, writing as one of God's sheep in Psalm 23, is a wonderful picture of contentment.
    He is so joyful in the Lord that he is thrilled to say, "The Lord is my shepherd."
  • He is a satisfied sheep.
  • He doesn't go off wandering for better food.
  • He is contented with the food and water his Shepherd provides.

    Life isn't all a bed of roses either.
    There are enemies around.
    But David is not afraid because he knows his Shepherd is nearby with His shepherd's rod ready.
    Psalm 37 says the same thing: "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture."

    We don't have to fret because of wicked men.
    God will take care of them for us.
    He will make sure from His heavenly judge's seat that justice is done on earth.

    David tells us, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."(Verse 5}
    Be still! Don't fret! Don't get angry!
    God is on His throne!
    God says, "Just trust Me, and be content."

    The meek, not the worrywart, will inherit the earth.
  • We do have to be careful, though, that contentment doesn't turn into complacency.
  • We must not become like some people who are so laid back they have gone to sleep.
    Sometimes, God presents us with a problem, not as a test of our trust in Him, but because
    He wants us to do something about it.

    If you are getting depressed and upset about a problem, and are continually complaining,
    "Why doesn't someone do something about this?"
    You are very likely the someone who should do something about it.

    So if you have a burden over a real wrong that needs righting, perhaps, it's your call of opportunity
    knocking at your door!
    Depression -- physical causes aside -- is mainly because you are wanting what you shouldn't have
    or failing to do what you know, you ought to do!

    "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
    Nehemiah first spoke these words to the exiles who had just returned from Babylon to Israel.
    After they had built the wall and settled in their towns, everyone assembled at Jerusalem.
    Ezra and the other priests read from the law, and explained the words to the people.
    Many of them wept, as they listened to the words of the law.

    Nehemiah told them: "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those
    who have nothing prepared.
    This day is sacred to our Lord.
    Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength
    (Nehemiah 8: 10)
    The joy of the Lord is still our strength!
    It is the antidote to discontent.

    Satan is powerless against a contented Christian.
    If we, like David, are contented sheep who find our total joy in the Lord, then we will be able to
    "be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."
    It's easy to say, "Be joyful. God says you ought to have the joy of the Lord."
    But where does the joy of the Lord come from?
    How can you get it?

    To stop at the oughts does people no good.
    "Yes, I ought to be joyful, but I'm not. How can I become joyful?"
    This is it!

    This will bring you joy!
    "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
    James tells us, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    Come near to God and he will come near to you
    ." (James 4: 7, 8)

    If you want to have the joy of the Lord, it is so simple you must come near to God.
    God is still in control!

    Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White