We are always what our situation hands us. These words of Billy Joel are true but they do not tell the whole story.

Another singer some years advocated that “You gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run.” I think that both Billy Joel and Kenny Rogers are right. We have to play the hand we are dealt. Good, bad, or indifferent. Our choices are to resign ourselves to some predetermined fate, pleasant or unpleasant, or we can utilize all available resources- common sense, creativity, logic, finances, talents, wisdom, faith- to move from our present reality to a more preferred future.

Someone once described me as a “realistic optimist.” I am not exactly sure what that means and even if I did I am not sure it is correct. I do try to deal with reality as I perceive it, celebrate the current circumstances where I can, and do what I can do to create a more positive reality.

The old television show, Hee Haw, had as its theme song, “Gloom, despair, agony on me. Deep, dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, agony on me.” Unfortunately, that is the attitude of many people. They feel that they are victims of some kind of fate that dooms them for life. I am sure that many people live in conditions that would easily give rise to that mentality but succumbing to that way of thinking will only make matters worse.

One has only to look around to realize that all people do not experience life at the same level. Poverty, disease, prejudice, and war, are among the factors that seek to sap life’s vitality. However, persons who live in very adverse conditions often project a positive outlook on life. I am among the privileged of the world and yet persons who have the abundance that I enjoy, and more, often feel that life has no meaning.

I don’t understand all that but what I do know is that God desires for all people to experience a fulfilling life. God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have in mind for you; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope” (Jer. 29:11, CEB).

Jesus said, “I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10, CEB). That quality of life is meant for everyone.

We carry a tremendous amount of responsibility for happiness and joy in our own lives. We have the capacity to live purposeful and meaningful lives in all circumstances. The ability to cope with and overcome adversity is built into the fabric of every human being. Circumstances and environment can stifle and attempt to destroy that innate resource but we are not alone in this venture. God is with us to help us. And God uses people to assist other people in their struggles. Let us be open to God’s Presence and provision for us and be sensitive to the opportunities God gives us to help others.

Jamie Jenkins