One, which I think is responsible for only a small portion of the trouble in each of our lives, is that sometimes God places us in positions or sends us circumstances that He has purposely designed to refine and develop us in some way. I don't presume to understand the details of all that, but my Bible assures me that it does happen, and is the result of His fatherly love for us.
The second cause of our trials, in my humble opinion, is that we live in a world full of imperfect people. Not only are our own bodies and minds and souls imperfect, but so are those of every single human being with whom we inhabit the Earth. I believe that this imperfection is the cause of a lot of our troubles. Car wrecks, disease, robberies, hangnails, financial scams - everything from genocide to someone going through the express checkout with too many groceries can be attributed to the "fallen-ness" of the bodies we inhabit and the people we share our world with. I don't think it does much good at all to obsess about this kind of trouble. Worrying about things outside your control only gives you wrinkles, a headache, and a grouchy outlook on life.
Third, I would name the natural world as the source of some of our problems. It seems you can't go a day without hearing about a flood, tornado, tsunami, earthquake, wildfire, or other natural disaster. I'm not sure if these natural disasters are becoming more common, or if we just hear about them more often in this era of global communication, but it is impossible to deny that we humans are almost totally at the mercy of Mother Nature. We like to think we are mighty, powerful, indestructible; but we are clearly no match for the excesses of wind, rain, snow, heat (or whatever) that the natural forces of our planet can conjure up to throw at us (literally and figuratively).
Lastly, and the real subject of of my rambling thoughts, is the fourth cause of the problems we encounter in our daily lives. Ourselves. I have come to believe, albeit reluctantly, that I am the cause of most of my own trials and tribulations. I have been pondering this for quite a while (I was recently accused of pondering rather too much), but it was brought home forcibly to me while I was taking a road trip a few weekends ago. I had set my GPS to lead me to the home address of a friend from many years ago (I didn't want to say an "old" friend!), even though I knew in general how to get to the area in which she lived. It was really just the last few miles of the trip for which I needed directions. As I drove, the computer-generated (male with a British accent) GPS voice kept insisting that I should take a route that I didn't want to take. He believed that he knew better than I did which way would be the best. Mile after mile he droned on, "Make a U-turn when possible." I declined to follow his instructions. As the trip went on, I became more and more irritated with him. I am embarrassed to admit that I even began arguing with him. "I will not make a U-turn! I don't want to go that way!" Finally it dawned on me that this irritation could have been avoided if I had gone as far as I could without setting the GPS, and then turned it on only as I got close to my destination. Idiot! (Sadly, this is not the first time I have done exactly this same thing.)
So, as that realization hit me, I began thinking that perhaps there were other instances in my life where my problems or troubles or irritations were of my own creation. As I drove, I began naming those situations aloud (it kept me awake as I drove, at least). The list grew quite lengthy. Undoubtedly, I could have driven cross-country and not have run out of examples of this phenomenon in my own life. Here are a few of the ones that came to mind as I drove (in no particular order):
- having no air conditioning in my car (still)
- running out of my prescriptions without refills available
- having a house full of chewed-on furniture, pillows, baseboards, shoes, eyeglasses, etc.
- needing to rake the discarded leaves from 40 trees in my backyard
- wearing shoes which I have forgotten give me blisters
- often having less in the bank than I should
- running out of clean underwear
- having to squeeze past all the junk in my garage to get into my car
I could go on . . . and on . . . and on, but that would just be depressing. I am especially sorry to say that I am apparently incapable of learning from my previous mistakes - some of my self-initiated problems have occurred more than once.
I would like to promise that my propensity for causing myself trouble will end forthwith. I would like to believe that. I live in the constant hope that at some point in my life I will become a real grownup - one who is capable and thoughtful and thorough. Unfortunately, it is looking less and less likely as I continue to grow older without becoming noticeably wiser.