Last updated on August 19, 2020
Thanks so much for all those answers you have given to me. I know now that working and trying my best in school is the right thing to do but it doesn’t seem to be working. Every time I try to pay attention to class my concentration keeps snapping back to whether if this was right or not. This was so bad that I basically don’t know anything I was taught for three weeks. It’s also troubling because wherever I am, no matter what I am doing, I keep questioning if I’m doing the right thing about God. I know that I shouldn’t do this, but at the same time, I feel guilty that I would be turning my attention away from God. I’m even praying randomly which I don’t think is good because I usually don’t know what I’m praying about. It seems more like an obsession. I guess I really don’t understand what the phrase “Seek God’s kingdom first and all else would be added onto you.”
Finally, it feels like I’m feeling down all the time because of this, and because of my life. I really don’t know how to live for God and every time I get an answer it seems like Satan brings me down and I soon forget about that message. What should I do?
I used to think that life was to be enjoyed and that I am allowed to do anything as long as I follow God’s laws. I’m sorry, it just seems like every time I get an answer to my question another question just springs up and gets me depressed and tired.
You seem to have a good grasp on the problem. It is extremely easy for teenagers to become compulsive and obsessed with certain ideas. As the brain develops for adult thinking, it sometimes locks on a particular idea and can’t easily release itself. The good news is that this is just a phase you are going through. Meanwhile, you need to work a bit at overcoming your compulsions before they become a habit.
I don’t know where you are, but this would be a good topic to discuss with a trusted preacher in your area. Not every preacher is skilled in dealing with these issues, but many can help you work through the quagmire of confusing thoughts and conflicting desires.
Either way, you need to let your reason rule your mind and not your feelings. Being human and especially being male means that you can do things despite your feelings. So let’s examine this logically. You know that getting an education is not contrary to God’s law (see: On Being Educated). So questioning whether you are doing right is actually questioning whether God knew what He was doing when He advises us to get some education. That, obviously, is not a good thing to do.
God has told us to put Him first in our lives (Matthew 6:33), but you are acting as if He stated to put Him exclusively in our lives, and such a law doesn’t exist. It is God who said that we should support our families (I Timothy 5:8); therefore, taking time to work in order to support our families is being obedient to God and putting God’s will first in our life. Now if we take that to an extreme where we work and never have time to worship God, then we have gone beyond what God has commanded. Work would then occupy the first place in our life instead of God.
I can tell you are locking up mentally on a single idea when you tell me that you feel a compulsion to pray, but then can’t remember what you prayed about. “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (I Corinthians 14:15). Prayer without meaning is meaningless.
You are correct that life is meant to be enjoyed. “Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage” (Ecclesiastes 5:18). Also, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9). The reason God gave us commandments is to help us avoid bad situations that would make life difficult. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). When we put God first by following His teachings, life gets less complicated and more enjoyable.
“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1).