Faith and Family

Lynn Jones: How do you look at life

By Lynn Jones

July 5 – The author John Steinbeck loved the sea, and he loved nature. On one occasion, Steinbeck and his friend Ed Ricketts conceived the idea of going to the Sea of Cortez located between Baja California and the rest of Mexico. On the journey they would collect specimens from the sea to sell to labs and would also explore the region. They chartered a boat and crew and carried out their expedition in the spring of 1940.

Lynn Jones

After their return, Steinbeck wrote Log from the Sea of Cortez, which is an account of the journey.

In the book, Steinbeck talked about the sailors on board and their tendency, like some farmers, to complain about everything. He wrote: “Fishermen are no happier than farmers. It is difficult to see why anyone becomes a farmer or a fisherman. Dreadful things happen to them constantly: they lose their nets; the fish are wild; there are no fish and the price is high; there are too many fish and the price is low; and if some means could be devised so that the fish swam up to a boat, wriggled up a trough, squirmed their way into the fish hold and pulled ice over themselves with their own fins, the griping would be terrible because the fish had not removed their own scales or brought their own ice.”

Complaining and griping are besetting the sins of humans. We evidently find something satisfying about them because we practice them so much.

There are a couple of problems with such an approach to life, however. For one thing, no one cares to be around us if all we do is complain. In addition to that, we spend so much time zeroing in on what is wrong that we seldom give equal time to celebrating all that is right.

A tourist who told of traveling by tour bus through the West, said two women sat in front of her complained constantly. As the bus made its way along one section of the highway, the driver said that there were ancient Indian dwellings in the area. He urged the passengers to go see them if they ever got back that way. He noted that the dwellings were several miles to the east. One of the women turned to the other and remarked, “You’d think they would have built them closer to the road.”

If you want to complain about something, you will certainly be able to do so. Paul, however, gave us a different way to look at life. He wrote in Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philip. 4:4). He added in Philip. 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philip. 4:8). What a great way to look at life!

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: