I recently visited Florida, and there’s nothing like Florida in the spring. It’s just so comfortable: no humidity, beautiful, crisp blue skies, and a light breeze. On my way down, I stopped on the coast for a bite to eat. I like truly good food, and fast food is miserable for me, so I asked Siri where to eat. “Hey Siri, I’m hungry, where’s a good place to eat?” On the list Siri gave me was a place called The Black Sheep. It was perfect!
How could you be Miserable?
Imagine sitting under a cloudless blue sky in Florida with the sun shining gently on your face. A light spring breeze blows against your skin and through your hair. You’re eating simply delicious food and having an amazing drink with brilliant company. Your favorite music is playing in the background, just enough to make its presence known but not enough to distract you from your engaging conversation. Literally, you are cocooned and enveloped in sensory bliss – ah! These instances aren’t uncommon in Florida. Essentially, Florida is built to accommodate these moments.
I grew up in Florida and experienced this regularly. My body was often cradled in a vacationer’s paradise. There’s a reason snowbirds retire to spend their golden years in Florida – it’s delightful. Having said that, for me, something was always amiss. It felt so odd to live in a paradise where everyone looked so happy yet I remained unsatisfied and miserable. I always thought, “What is wrong with me?” No matter how cushioned I made my body or soul, for the most part, I remained miserable. It’s not as if I didn’t have enjoyment or experience moments of pleasure, but the sum total of my days was an awareness of sadness. I was living in a perfect world and I lay opposed to it like a sharp edge against lovely bubbles. Pop!
Miserable in Paradise
I watched people all around me insulated with comforts. They were cushioned within a seeming numbing bliss. By all outward appearances, their bodies and souls were satisfied with every good thing. So what was my problem? Why couldn’t I just toe the party line? Because something inside of me ran counter to this. I resisted whatever “IT” was, but it would not be silenced.
Living in paradise is an insular existence. And unless there is an inward force pushing against it, we can live insulated. I can make my climate just as I like, I can purchase anything to make my world easier and more comfortable, I can feed myself with whatever pleasure I desire—I’m insulated. But in the insulation of paradise, I was living a truly insular existence. The masses were insulated from this internal Bother, but I was insulated from making the insulation work for me. I was isolated in the insular world. This was a double heartache, because the presence of paradise made my existence seem that much more different from everyone else.
What I have found is that this is the life of those who are called of God. Although everyone called of God experiences this, the Bible gives a perfect example in the life of Moses.
Moses was Miserable
Moses would have known the best that the world could offer for the time and yet it was never enough. He would have known kingly delicacies presented to the royal family. He could have anything his heart desired. He lived in a royal Egyptian paradise, but he remained internally compromised. He lived isolated from the insular existence of royalty. His body and soul could have anything it desired but an internal calling bothered him. He couldn’t be satisfied with the best the world had to offer.
For Moses, this paradise wasn’t enough! Something was missing. He had God’s ‘ministry of miserable.’ His life was missing the most important part, the only part that actually mattered to him—the spiritual part. The passionate, internal Fire was brighter than the extinguishing comforts the world had to offer.
Sure, our bodies and souls can be completely contented but as with Moses, our spirits remain discontent. God’s ministry of miserable makes receiving satisfaction from the world utterly impossible. Momentary distractions can turn down the call’s volume. We may even be able to achieve a season of dulling that call, but when the silence comes, as it always does, the call is again loud and undeniable.
(Moses), choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
Hebrews 11:25-26 ESV
Am I saying you can’t enjoy life if you are called of God? That a pleasurable meal with lovely people is somehow off? Not at all! On the contrary, I believe these times can be more meaningful and blessed. When your body, soul and spirit are united with the will of God, you will experience a bliss that can be higher than any earthly pleasure. It’s a spiritual ecstasy.
I ate at The Black Sheep in God’s will. I had a divine time. All my senses were engaged and I had the delight of the Lord’s presence and the smile of being in His Will. You see, many think that God’s Will is complete drudgery, that it would be the most un-enjoyable experience known to man. However, I contend that in His will, you experience joys beyond the common. Following the Will of God is the experience of true Life and joy. The ministry of miserable is just the goad to make sure you don’t settle for anything less than His perfect choice for you.
Why not just live for yourself? Having been a pastors wife for over twenty years I have found that’s what the church members do. Attack the pastor, live for themselves, quarrel and fight. It has not been worth it. It has not been rewarding, it has been indeed, miserable and I would do anything to get out. Maybe it’s time I started living for myself. Underpaid, under constant stress, I hate the church. I still believe in a God of love but he does not move as I once naively believed. I think we are left on our own to… Read more »
Erin, I have utmost compassion for your circumstance. Being in the ministry for almost 3 decades I have had my share of battle wounds. The sheep have torn, scorned, and slandered me, my walk, and my God. And through it I even have had moments, as yourself, of becoming jaded and cynical. I wrote this post in tears of amazement at that restaurant because I saw Him in that wounding and it made the pain worth it. I realized there was a higher purpose. I don’t make light of your situation and circumstance, it is real and true but it’s… Read more »
“The ministry of miserable is just the goad to make sure you don’t settle for anything less than His perfect choice for you.”
this being my 3rd visit to Florida, and to seeing the “insular” of this place. The arranged atmosphere here is to self. Is there anything more insular than self? Each personal goal to just “enjoy” becomes more adhesive daubed upon any man’s cocoon. The real shock here becomes for how universally accepted is this manner of a slow death. This place is the Egypt of Moses, and-with the joy from our God to be leaving an insular life (such as along the Space Coast) behind for a better place where nothing orbits me.
Yes, thank you for this post John
There is peace in entering His rest, you are no longer separate from God. You experience that living water which Christ offered to the woman at the well. No external thing can give that!! Thank you you all
I really relate John, to the point of thinking something must be really wrong with me… But feeling guilty half the time, thinking I should stop being so unsatisfied…
I would have never, EVER guessed this to be a “ministry of miserable!”
Do you have more to say about this?
Amen! For sure, God’s will is a drudgery until you come inside it. This is the sign of Jonah, which is the sign of God for this generation (me included). The will of God was not acceptable and it was rejected, but His will pursued Jonah to the bottom of the Abyss, where he cried out. Then he had to wait until he was delivered/vomited to dry land, that blessed land of His will. Outside of this Will, life is upside down, no matter what or who… or when. Turmoil and work ensue. But in His will order slides in… Read more »