I woke up early this morning searching for a thankful thought but all I found was a mind adrift, floating about in an ocean of muck—obsessing on circumstances that haven’t gone the way I’d like. Replaying the argument I had with my brother, I was mad at myself that I lost my temper when he lost his. The closing on my Mom’s condo we’ve been trying to sell, pushed off to who knows when—another month of a mortgage I’m ready to be gone. And my blog/platform numbers aren’t where I want them to be.
Whaaa, whaaaa, whaaaaa!
The sun hadn’t yet peaked through the shutters yet and I was having pity party.
Acknowledging my messed up perspective, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, adorned my face with my ever-so-lovely glasses, grabbed my Bible and slipped out the bedroom as to not wake hubby.
Now in the kitchen with my french vanilla foo foo coffee in hand (why do I even bother, it’s decaf) I open the Word to find the place I’ve been studying and BAM! there it is. Could God speak to me any louder?
In 1 Corinthians I read:
“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted we endure it; when we are slandered we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth. The garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13)
And I’m immediately convicted.
Oh Lord, forgive me.
Any and all of my uncomfortable circumstances are momentary in regards to eternity. As I sip on my warm java I’m neither hungry nor thirsty. As a matter of fact I have a smorgasbord of items for consumption just waiting for me in the refrigerator. Too much I might add. And rags? I have enough clothes in my closet to go over a month without wearing the same thing twice and the last time I was brutally treated was because I had a bad massage. I live in lovely home and the only work these hands do is pulling weeds out of flower beds, rinsing the dishes for the dishwasher to then do it again, and typing this post.Now troubled, as I access my lifestyle with the first part of the verse, I become even more anguished with what Paul says next.
“When we are cursed we bless; when are persecuted we endure it; when we are slandered we answer kindly.”
Do I do this?
Can I do this?
Lord help me please.
In these situations Paul is not reacting to his circumstances like I have a tendency to do—like I did this morning. He responds.
Responding is a thoughtful action. Reaction is a thoughtless impulse.
When I got into the argument with my brother I reacted impulsively, losing my temper when he lost his. Then I allowed myself to react again as the incident came back to haunt my predawn consciousness.
So why do I react instead of respond?
It has all to do with where my heart and goals are set.
Paul’s heart and mind were always on his deep relationship with Jesus. His goal was spreading the Gospel, the hope of eternal life through Christ. In a nutshell he set his mind on eternal things instead of the earthly. He kept his focus above his circumstances, on his forever home and the mission at hand, making his current situation nothing but a temporary inconvenience.
And that’s where God ultimately wants us to be—calls us to be. Not so stuck in the muck of the here and now that we react to everything like we’ve just plunged our finger in a light socket. Rather He wants us to live life as if we’re on a long vacation with Him, marinating our hopes of a home in heaven.
But I’ll be the first to tell you I’m constantly distracted by what the world has to offer. If you’re anything like me, dangle the carrot and off you go.
It’s a struggle.
But we can do this—we can take time and study God’s Word and pray so that we might strengthen our focus on and relationship with Jesus and allow ourselves to be immersed in His Spirit daily so the struggle is not so hard.
Jesus came to earth to get us over the hard.
As I reevaluate my so-called circumstances in the light of this revelation, thankfulness comes easier and my perspective becomes more aligned with God’s.
Tomorrow our problems are still going to be there but they can change in a heartbeat so wouldn’t it be better if our heart beat solely and solidly for the One who won’t change?
Looking forward, pressing on, and seeking God in every bump and turn in the road.