October 15, 2010

To Live is Christ — no pity parties

The most annoying thing about a pity-party is when I’m having one, I cannot go to sleep. Actually, this turns out a good thing. It forces me to take another look at alternatives for feeling sorry for myself.

Another good thing is God’s timing on these verses as part of my devotional reading. This week’s dental appointment had me angry and not wanting to ever see another dentist. It was partly about having to get teeth fixed again after they had already been fixed, but more about the runaround they gave me and being treated like a “case” instead of a person. My reaction was a little like my sister’s line in a grade school skit, “Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me. I’m going out into the garden to eat worms.”

Nevertheless, God kept whispering these verses in my ear, and because I know them so well, and know they are true, I could not help but listen.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28–29)
I was still complaining. Okay God, how is this situation supposed to make me like Jesus? I don’t get it. What are You trying to tell me or show me?

My first positive thought was that Jesus was also treated unfairly. Maybe I was simply going through this so I could identify with His suffering? This was a goal for Paul, so maybe for me too? The Bible says that Paul considered all the “good stuff” in his life as rubbish, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).

Paul knew the value of dying to self, and he also knew that when he did, he would know Jesus in a deeper way, both His power and His suffering. Was that what I needed to learn?

The next ideas that came to mind were a total surprise and obviously from the Holy Spirit. They were two passages of Scripture that instantly brought an end to my party. The first was a prophecy about Jesus:

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
This verse was God’s polite way of saying, “Shut up.” I did. Then He gave me this one from the New Testament:
For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:20–23).
Jesus may not have needed a dentist, but His Father sent Him to a far worse fate — and He didn’t protest. God had a purpose for what happened to Him and the Son trusted His Father.

I got it. The daughter needs to trust her Father too, even with dentists. As soon as I said, “Yes” my anger and anguish were replaced by a deep, incredible joy and peace that only God can give.

With that, I fell sound asleep.


Anonymous said...

so listen here! If I am up frowning at my computer because my (really very low, so low it feels like my hip) lower back hurts and I have had to get up for the dog twice already and I've been in pain for the last three weeks and I'm sick and tired of it ...

Will you stop writing columns at me already?

Or, you know, PLEASE DON'T STOP.

Thanks for sharing.

Going upstairs and shutting up now.


LC said...

I toyed with the idea of not approving this (no reason, just to be annoying), but because I know you so well, and because you write just like you speak, it had to be published. When I read this I can actually hear you and even see you shaking your finger at me.

Honest, I was not thinking of you and am sorry that you are in pain. Be encouraged - your funny bone is in fine shape. This is a good sign.

Anonymous said...

well it was my back handed way of saying "thanks I needed that."

As I was groaning getting out of the car today I said "As a sheep before the shearers is dumb ..."