We live in a society which likes to blame everyone, or everything, else for our foibles, faults, and failures. We feel like we could succeed if only all these unfortunate circumstances didn’t keep popping up in our path. “My shortcomings are not really my fault – I could be different if my circumstances were different!” There is a name for this type of thinking – Victim Mentality. You see, if we are victims of our circumstances then we are neither responsible nor accountable for our actions – we just can’t help being the way we are. The victim mentality is a very convenient excuse which allows us to rationalize our mistakes and justify them without damaging our self-esteem. We don’t want to damage our egos by believing that we are not capable in some area of our lives because that would cause us pain and suffering.
Our culture abhors pain and suffering of any type and will do almost anything to avoid any degree of discomfort or unpleasantness. It makes sense that none of us enjoy pain or suffering, but does that mean we should never experience it? Ask one of the Olympic athletes who just came home from Rio if they ever endured pain and unpleasantness while training to win the gold medal they are wearing around their neck. Difficult circumstances are part of life. They build character and teach us valuable lessons about life. Moreover, God PERMITS us (His Children) to go through pain and suffering as part of our transformation to become more like Christ. Just as gold is purified (refined) by fire, Christians become more like Christ when we endure hardships and difficult times. God permits us to suffer so that we will learn dependence on Him and not ourselves. Just as Paul learned to be content in all circumstances, we need to learn to strengthen our faith and dependence on God to weather the trials and tribulations of this world. God’s singular purpose is to reproduce the character of Christ in you, to glorify Himself through your life. Every problem is a character building opportunity for God’s hands in your life.
If you want to experience peace and contentment in this world, you must stop living as the Center of the Universe and worship the One Who is. Our God is an AWESOME God who has a master plan for your life. The question you must answer is, “Am I willing to stay focused on God’s plan and not my pain or problem?” Your focus will determine your actions. As Corrie Ten Boom, who suffered the loss of her family and was imprisoned in a Nazi Concentration Camp said, “If you look at the world, you will be distressed. If you look within you will be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you will be at rest.”
I pray that you will learn to be at rest.
-Pastor Dave Jones