Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Playing the Victim

A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. Proverbs 19:3

Why is it when we make a mess it’s always God’s fault? Do you think God hates you? He doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God is love (1 John 4:16). Even God’s discipline stems from His love (Hebrews 12:6). It’s not God’s objective to ruin anyone’s life (Jeremiah 29:11).

But, the other side is that God won’t miraculously cause all of our problems to disappear. While I do believe that God does give us faith and does provide miracles, I also know that removing all of the obstacles that we've set up for ourselves doesn’t make us better. It does the opposite. Just like removing a cocoon would only harm the emerging butterfly, removing all of our self-inflicted problems would threaten our survival.

What you and I are going through today is not God’s fault. Say it outloud: “What I am going through is not God’s fault. It’s my fault.” Even if your pain or problems start with another person, what have you done to encourage it or to allow their mistreatment of you? How have you played into the dysfunction? How have you poured fuel on the fire? How do you over-react rather than respond?

Here are two very tough little words: Own It. “I am responsible for my current situation. I am responsible for my attitude about my situation. I am responsible for my life from this point forward regardless of past failures or successes.” But, it was so much easier to blame an unreasonable boss, an unfaithful friend, a critical or unreliable spouse, bratty kids, the economy, the government, and above all a cruel and unloving god.

You and I are not victims of our circumstances. You and I are not facing harder things than other Christians in history have faced. Most of us reading these words are not imprisoned or impoverished. Most are not being persecuted for their faith. Many of us are just big whiners. It’s time to grow up.

The sooner that we realize that God is God, and we’re not, the better off we will be. I cannot control what other people do. I cannot change other people into what I want them to be. The best chance that I have of changing anybody is to commit to changing myself with God’s help.

The Devil wants to keep us incapacitated. The Devil invented the blame game when he introduced sin into the world (Genesis 3:12-14). The Enemy’s battlefield is between our two ears. As long as he can keep us from realizing that we can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13) and that God is still working on us (Philippians 1:6), the enemy has won. Someone once described the devil as being a tiny bug with a big mouth. I think that sums it up.

Considering that the Master and Creator of the universe loves us deeply and is fully capable of producing in us what He has called us to be, what is really standing in our way? For many of us, what is standing in the way is ourselves and our attitudes.

Rather than throwing a pity party, which usually only has one invited guest, pour out the whole thing to God. If you're stuck, pray, “God, what in the world am I supposed to do?” If you're frustrated, pray, “God, I give up trying to change this person or situation. I give it to You for You to work on. I will live obediently to You and let You work on the rest.” If disappointments overwhelm you, pray, “God, I am very disappointed because of how _____________ has turned out. It makes me think that you don’t love me. It makes me think that you won’t or can’t help me. Please show me what to do.”

To quote the great theologian, Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Looking for a Small Group? Find one this Sunday, January 9, 5-7 pm at the Small Group Sampler in the concourse at Brookwood Church. This is a casual, open house where you can meet small groups and sign up to try one.

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