I recently read India ranks 136 out of 146 countries in the list of the most unhappy places on earth, according to the 2022 UN World Happiness Report.
When I read it I had to sit down for a minute to take it in. I was stunned.
What on earth am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be living in Finland (ranked No. 1) or New Zealand (No. 10)? I do not even mind Spain (No. 27) or Singapore (No. 32).
Look, I am a reasonable person. Don’t you think I deserve to live in a country that is at least in the top 100? Of course I do. We all do. I deserve it. In fact, I am entitled to it for all the good work I have done.
Entitlement is such a sneaky posture. It can be seen in all kinds of human behaviour. We see politicians who act entitled, driving around in cars with their red sirens. We see people in authority act entitled when they keep you waiting as they sip their chai. We see husbands act entitled toward their wives, parents act entitled toward their children and the vicious cycle continues as these children grow up entitled.
Entitled people behave as though the world revolves around them. They are the centre of attention. They feel like they deserve what they want. After all, they have worked hard and lived a good life.
A posture of entitlement can be quite invisible. Do not be deceived. We could all be working hard, serving others, appearing genuine, and yet be filled with a sense of entitlement.
How do I know if I have this posture of entitlement?
Recently, someone I know very well applied for a job in an organisation I am quite involved in. But they did not tell me about it. Maybe they just wanted to get it on their own merit. Why didn’t they tell me? Didn’t they know how much influence I had? I felt a little disrespected, as if I do not matter. After all, I am older, more experienced, and so very helpful (ha!). Am I not entitled to some respect?
The organisation then called me to find out about them. I felt vindicated. Surely the “universe” has a way of putting people in their place—usually with me on top and others at the bottom. As I continued to think about this, it dawned on me that I feel so entitled. I feel so entitled to opinions, judgements, respect, blessings, comforts, getting my way, being the centre of attention, wanting appreciation and recognition. There is no end to my sense of entitlement.
It was this posture of entitlement that made me resent my life when I read I am living in one of the most unhappy places on earth.
A book I read recently noted that the opposite of entitlement is gratitude. It is the awareness that life itself and everything you experience in life and everything you have is a gift from God. Period. The moment my sense of gratitude shrinks, my sense of entitlement grows.
Entitled people lose a sense of wonder at what God has done for them, in them, and what he is doing through them for his glory. Instead, entitled people find themselves complaining and grumbling, growing bitter and more resentful about life.
If we are honest, we can admit there is a sense of entitlement in all our hearts.
The Bible says that what I truly deserve is the just judgement of God and eternal banishment from his presence. Anything else I get is a gift from God.
May we never forget this. May we never lose our sense of wonder about the gospel of grace. May we never forget that on the cross, Christ received what we deserved and by his grace, in faith, we receive what he alone deserved—glory, honour and embrace.
We may be living in one of the most unhappy places on earth. But we can still be the happiest people on earth because we live in Christ.
His love is better than life.