Did you know that there’s an annual Misery Index? It’s literally a list of how miserable a country’s population is, ranked in order from 1 (the most miserable people) to 95 (the least miserable people). Out of those 95 nations Venezuela was deemed the most miserable country in both 2018 and 2019. On the opposite end, the happiest countries were found to be Thailand (2018) and Japan (2019).
The Misery Index uses a specially crafted formula for taking data in a couple different areas of a country’s economy and crunching those numbers to get a sense of how strong each country is. (Some of areas it takes into consideration are unemployment, inflation and bank lending rates.) The thought is that the strength of a country’s economy is directly related to the happiness of its people.
The Bible’s got a misery measurement system, too. Did you know that? Paul talks about the most miserable people in the world in his first letter to the Corinthians. It’s not based on economic factors, though. Check it out:
But tell me this – since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ was not raised then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God, for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave, but that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ have perished! And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world.1 Corinthians 15:12-19 NLT 1996
Paul’s explaining to the Christians in the city of Corinth that Jesus rose from the dead and – because he did – we will, too. He explains that if Jesus hadn’t have risen from the dead then everything we believe about life after death is not going to happen and THAT would make us the most miserable people in the world.
The world says that money (or the lack thereof) determines our level of misery. The Bible says that a Savior (or the lack thereof) determines our level of misery.
I’ll be honest – I’ve never heard it said quite like that before and it’s kind of making some brain-lightbulbs turn on. One definition of misery ties our state of mind to the earth and the other ties our state of mind to something beyond this world. So, the big lightbulb moment I’m getting from that is this: When I allow myself to feel miserable because of my economic status, job, house, etc. I’m not thinking, feeling, or acting like a Christian. I’ve reduced the greatness of the spectrum that Christ has given me access to – I’ve reduced the amount of possible joy I am capable of experiencing because I DO have hope in life after death.
True misery is found in spiritual (NOT economic) deficit. True joy is found in Him. This week I’m going to focus on making that my mantra every time I’m tempted to think in terms of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Prayer: Dear Lord, I don’t know why it’s so easy to slip into thinking like this world is all I have. Thank you for reminding me that I can be free of that idea and instead focus on the joy of knowing YOU are all I need. Help me place my hope and joy in you. Amen.