This graduation season is filled with young lives full of potential and a bright future. However, life is tough. The challenge is to achieve the hope within that young heart as you age through the seasons of life. The goal – a life well lived. The opposite is a life of disappointment and cynicism because of shattered dreams. Youth lacks experience, but you can borrow it from others if you are wise. The psalmist is a great source to borrow from.
Life Principle One – Trust in God
In Psalm 91:2, He said, “My God in whom I trust.” That sounds familiar, oh yes we print that on our money. It is an almost daily reminder, IN GOD WE TRUST. He goes on to say, “ Under his wings you will find refuge… You will not fear the terror of the night” (Psalm 91:4-5). Many have experienced night terrors waking up in the middle of the night with both their mind and heart racing with all the thoughts of “what if.” What does it mean to trust God?
There are two practical ways we can live out a life that trusts God. One is to trust the sovereignty of God. That means to believe he is in control of the universe and working out his divine plan of redemption and restoration. Sometimes it looks like the bad guys are winning. Sometimes things don’t make sense. Sometimes we may question the goodness of God. However, in those times we need to remember the words of the Psalmist, “Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know, the fool cannot understand this” (Psalm 92:5-6). To get angry, fearful or down when we can’t understand is to align ourselves with the stupid and foolish.
When they don’t understand the wise person says, “I will trust. I will trust God is greater and wiser than me.” He knows what he is doing and is not obligated to explain anything to me. The lack of knowledge and understanding is my deficit not God’s. To think otherwise is arrogance and pride.
The second practical way of trusting God is to trust in his character and power. The judge of all the earth will do right. The wicked and evil doer may look now like they are flourishing (Psalm 92:7) but in reality they are doomed to destruction forever. God will one day punish all evil and right all wrongs because he is a just, righteous and loving God. As the sovereign, he will do it in his time and his way. Trusting means I accept and rest in this truth when I grapple with the unexplainable. Focus on knowing God and his character rather than understanding the circumstances.
Life Principle Two – Believe God is looking out for you
Here is God’s promise to his children who choose to dwell with him, who have come home to him: “ No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent” (Psalm 91:10). You say, “ Wait a minute I have had some bad things befall me.” God is teaching here a perspective. For those who love and follow God there are no “bad things.” He will use everything he allows (remember he is sovereign) into our life to develop our character. He turns bad into good even when others have evil intentions and temporarily hurt us. God will ultimately turn all things to our benefit (Romans 8:28).
“He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways “ (Psalm 91:11). You have bodyguards like secret service protection constantly watching over you. Sometimes they are even saving us from our own foolish decisions. God cares about you and is always looking over you. We may even try to run from him but he will never run from us.
Life Principle Three – Accept aging and expect to be fruitful and relevant in old age
None stays young forever. If you don’t die you will get old – accept this reality. We are living longer, healthier and more active lives. Certainly take care of your body, but most of all keep a young mind. Here is another promise from God: “The righteous flourish… they are planted in the house of the Lord;… they still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green” (Psalm 92:12-14). You don’t have to get an old mindset – unteachable, bitter or negative. No one wants to be around this kind of person.
With age comes the treasure of a lifetime of experience and learning to pass on to the generations behind you. Stay fresh in your thinking, be aware of current world events and understand how to connect with the younger generations. Don’t see them as the enemy. Expect God to still have a plan and purpose for this season of life. Ask him to show it to you. Others will seek out someone with this mindset. You will still be relevant because you will have a more accurate perspective that only comes with time.
We are all young and full of promise at one time in life. Will you achieve that potential, have a life well lived and finish well? Here are three simple life principles that can help you do just that.
Dr. John Hawkins, along with his son, John Jr., runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.