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Difficulties and the Abundant Life

 

In every moment, we have a choice as to what we’ll focus on and, therefore, how we’ll feel. We live in a world that is all about me. What’s in it for me? In fact, when someone gives of himself or herself unconditionally or doesn’t appear to understand the gravity of their situation, how many of us question their motives or their sanity? What are they up to? What’s their agenda?

However, God never intended us to live this way.When someone gives of themselves unconditionally, how many of us question their motives or their sanity? However, God never intended us to live this way. Click To Tweet

In John 10:10b Jesus says, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Abundant life refers to life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul” (NIV). As I studied this, I realized that it didn’t say we’d have an abundant life with no problems, or an abundant life with no worries or difficulties.

I have a friend who is a great example of what it means to live life abundantly. Anytime someone asks her how she is doing, her response is, “I’m blessed, blessed beyond measure.”

With that response, you would think she lived a charmed life. You wouldn’t know her daughter was just diagnosed with MS, a crippling disease that will eventually take her life. You wouldn’t know her husband, who is 62, just lost his job—three years before full retirement. You wouldn’t know all of these things because she believes that the gifts she has been given, even the gift of another day with her daughter, makes her blessed. Her focus is on the blessings and she has real joy.

I love to share the story about a group of alumni, highly established in their careers, who got together to visit their old university professor. As they sat in his living room, their conversation turned into complaints about stress in work and life. The professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups—porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal—some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite. As he passed the tray around, he invited them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said, “If you noticed, all the nice looking and expensive cups were taken first, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. It’s normal for you to want only the best for yourselves. That is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the best cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. What all of you really wanted was the coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups.” All of the former students looked around the room at the cups each person held. The wise professor held up a plain, ordinary cup and continued, “Now consider this: life is the coffee. Jobs, money, and your situations are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the kind of cup you have does not define, nor necessarily change the life you live. By concentrating only on the cup, you fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided. “

God has offered us a life overflowing with joy and steadiness of mind, body, and soul–if only we focus on the coffee and not the cup. The abundant life is attainable for all of us, regardless of our circumstances.The abundant life is attainable for all of us, regardless of our circumstances. Click To Tweet

What about your “cup” are you focused on? Your circumstances, job, finances, struggles, personal weaknesses?

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What are your blessings? The coffee in your cup? Make a list of the blessings God has given you—mind, body, and soul.

Then begin focusing on those blessings (the coffee and not the cup) by practicing the phrase my friend says when asked how she is doing, “I am blessed, blessed beyond measure.”

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