Why Doesn’t Good Feel as Good as Bad Feels Bad?!

It was at that time of the year, the close of the year, when people are thinking about what had taken place over the past 365 days.  I had read several articles and some listings that dealt with both good and bad but generally focused on more of the bad things than the good things that had happened.  Some of the article titles were like “The Ten Worst Events of the Past Year” or “The Ten Most Significant People Who Died in 2016.”  The bad seemed to be where most of our interest was and where most of our feelings were buried in that year.  I got to thinking about it – why doesn’t good feel as good as bad feels bad?  Think about it.  You can live for ten years, a full decade, and never have the flu the first time.  You might, in passing, be thankful that you were healthy, but not to a deep feeling of appreciation and praise, but then you get the flu.  Oh my, every bone is aching.  Everything is going wrong.  You’re not sure you’re going to live through the night, and it is actually horrible and unforgettable.  All the days of good health are forgotten, and even though you are appreciative of the good health, it wasn’t necessarily euphoric and the truth is the good doesn’t seem to be as good as the bad feels bad, especially if you have the flu.

Think about the joy and delight that comes when a child is born.  What a blessing.  One of life’s rich, wonderful joys, a new life has come into this world, yet after several months and life settles into normal routines of feedings and changings, and most of the ooings and cooings have either gotten less or stopped, the good doesn’t seem as earth shaking as the good seemed at the moment.  But on the other side:  what if you lose a loved one, a person who has been very dear to you, maybe a family member, maybe just a dear friend, and it seems that the wonderful good that comes when the good things happen in your life like that precious baby are nowhere to be compared to the pain of the deep hurt that you feel when you lose someone?  In fact, that pain will revisit you over and over again maybe for years to come.  Now I may not have answers to why the good doesn’t feel as good as the bad feels bad, but I do have some thoughts. 

One thought is simply this; it seems that we human beings have a tremendous sense of entitlement.  This didn’t start with the millennials and it didn’t come with just a new age of some descriptive group, it started with us as human beings touched by sin.  It seems as though we feel when good things come our way that, “Wonderful.  It’s about time.  I am deserving of that.”  If anything comes good our way, well, it should have.  And I ask the question, “Well, why should it?”  What have any of us done to deserve any of the Heavenly Father’s avalanche of blessings in our lives and reality?  The truth is that what we have done is nothing.  For all that we have ever done and all that we have ever received above zero is by the grace of God.  Still, some of us maybe all of us are tainted by this attitude that we see reflected in the prodigal son who came to his father and he said, “Give me.”  The quote goes on to say, “Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me” (Luke 15:12).  He wanted his inheritance and he wanted it now.  Truth is, the father didn’t have to give him anything – now or even in the will.  But this demanding spirit that I want what I want now and I want more of what I want and you need to make sure you give it to me, may live within all of us to some degree, and when we get the blessings, we often feel it’s about time.  I got mine.  A sense of entitlement is not a healthy thing, and it’s not a particular grace that looks good on a Christian’s walk.  Maybe it’s one that maybe we need to push back on in order to realize that we are probably not deserving of any of what we have, much of what we want.  It is an oft-repeated phrase when I meet people and people are meeting each other.  “How are you doing?”  “Better than I deserve,” they say.  Well, that’s true because you really were not in position to make a case before the God of Heaven that you deserve anything.  It’s all provided by Him.

The other thought that I have has to do with timing.  Maybe we feel the good doesn’t feel as good as the bad feels bad.  For when God gives us good things, we don’t fully know where it will lead.  Whereas when we experience loss, hurt, pain, suffering, disease, death, we know all too well the depths of the loss and the enormous hurt that we feel.  It’s all there and it can be visited daily if we choose to do so.  So what in the world do we do with the good that we ought to be giving thanksgiving for and the bad that we’re trying to get over?  Well, as you move into this new year, as it unfolds day by day before you, be blessed by the good.  Develop within your own consciousness an ongoing sense of a gratitude attitude that nothing is going to get by you without saying, “Thank You, Lord.”  It will change your feelings.  It will change your attitude just to live with some gratitude.  There are people all around you who may be caught up in their own little world of self-importance who don’t say thank you to anybody for anything.  Fine.  Just don’t let that someone be you.

Also, while you’re blessed by the good, don’t get blasted by the bad.  God is with you and will walk with you and encourage you and lift you in either situation.  If it’s good, He can handle that.  If it’s bad, He can handle that.  So as you walk through the days of this new year, give the days to God, your life to Him, and celebrate good, and trust God in the center of the bad. 

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer