As a pastor, I often hear this statement. Responses differ depending on the situation, but one thing is clear: Our passion and purpose, along with obedience to God, are closely interwoven. Problems arise when we seek comfort, convenience, money, status, or recognition above the passion that God has placed within us.

Literally millions of men are unhappy simply because they chose a lucrative career rather than a career that they were gifted for and enjoy. They put God on the back-burner and wonder why they lack passion.

If life is all about us, and what we want, we will always struggle with discouragement. We need to recognize that there is a Master Builder who has a plan. Lacking passion can be as disheartening as lacking income.

The Great Depression of the early 1900s brought devastation through financial ruin. Why then does today’s society experience so much unhappiness when we are at the pinnacle of financial success? It’s simple…passion for life is directly related to purpose. Many are living, but there is no life in their years.

Without God truly directing our lives, lifelong fulfillment and purpose are impossible to achieve. You might say, “I go to church but still lack passion.” Although it helps, going to church doesn’t guarantee spiritual fulfillment any more than going to the gym guarantees health. Spiritual fulfillment requires lifestyle changes and focused attention as does maintaining health.

Most feel depressed from time to time, simply as a result of our human condition. Physical conditions, adverse circumstances, chemical imbalances, spiritual attacks, or combinations of these can create feelings of despair, dependency, and helplessness.

How do you avoid the emotional roller coaster? First, check the obvious: Who are you associating with? What do you watch and/or listen to…does it build you up spiritually, or pull you down? What thoughts fill your mind…negative, bitter thoughts, or thankfulness? Are you walking in obedience to God’s word, because “the way of transgressors is hard” (Prov. 13:15)? Are you spending time in prayer and reading the Bible?

Mild depression and sadness are common to all of us, but when it lingers, it often requires more focused attention. Exercise, fun, friendship, forgiveness, kindness—all are biblical solutions that can gradually help with recovery, but again, there are clear cases of clinical depression that I’m not simply dismissing.

Our first resort must be complete abandonment to God; a fully surrendered life that focuses on His word and His promises. Fulfilling our purpose in life is not a destination; it’s a journey through day-to-day opportunities. It can be filled with unforeseen challenges, but it’s a rewarding journey if you look to the Creator to provide the compass.

True fulfillment comes from having a God-given purpose for your life, and then acting on that purpose. Many do not have a true vision for their life. They buy and build, invest and earn, date and marry, but are still unfulfilled. Without a vision, their journey becomes mindless wandering. It’s been said…if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll probably get there. Lets revisit biblical principles that encourage vision and passion:

First, are you truly in right relationship with God? You must start here: Philippians 4:6-7 encourages, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Passion and vision are maintained through a deep and consistent prayer life.

Second, is your mind truly fixed on the things of God? Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” If you struggle with fear and anxiety, I would encourage you to re-evaluate your mental diet of television, movies, and the Internet. Are they fostering fear and anxiety?

Third, are you focused on thankfulness or negativity? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”

Fourth, are you truly obeying God’s word? James 1:22, “Keep on being obedient to the word, and not merely being hearers who deceive themselves.” Disobedience leads to deception, and deception leads to depression.

Fifth, are you allowing circumstances to affect your joy? Many are happy when life goes their way, but very unhappy when it does not. This is largely because they measure happiness by what’s happening to them. When things go well, they’re happy, when things go poorly, they’re unhappy. I’m not suggesting that we should never be upset or depressed, but if happiness is measured by our circumstances, it’s going to be a very rough road ahead.

In clsoing, Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 adds, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” He is our only hope.

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