Next week, check back in for “Believe Only the Truth: Part 2.” But let me underline, here, anything I blog is an expression of my own heart and walk, not the position of any group. Also, I welcome interaction. So, if you disagree or hate what I write, as some told me last week, let me know. Let’s do the scary thing and talk together. Just comment you’d like to talk, and we can. This past week I have had some amazing conversations out of my last post. Finally, I don’t claim to have the corner on the truth market. I’m just a follower of Jesus walking this path, expressing my questions, doubts and discoveries. Thank you for joining me here on this journey.
It was in December as I finished up another read through the Bible, when the phrase in Romans 9 stood up and waved at me from the page. It was where Paul wrote of how unreasonable it is for us to speak to God, saying, “Why have you made me like this?” (9:20). In the passage, Paul spoke of the sovereignty of God over the destiny of people, but that morning, I heard how often I’ve copped the attitude suggested by Paul’s phrase in other arenas.
I’ve said it physically/emotionally — Why have you made me like this? With this eye color, this size or shape, with this nose, this hair color (well, that’s easily solved today), this tenor of voice, this or that inability. From that standpoint, the phrase becomes a way of making God responsible for all disliked aspects of our lives. In this light, it expresses a debilitating victim mindset.
It can be said of family, station in life, or race. It can be said of societal ills like poverty, racism, homelessness, and the like. This echos into the Matthew West song “Do Something” where he lamenting the world ills, says, “God, why don’t you do something?” And God responds, “I did. I created you…”
One man’s true fight against making others or God responsible for his life is told in the raw, brutal, powerful book by David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me. David is a man who had every excuse to fail, to quit, to give up, to live defeated. But instead, he refused to stay stuck in the why questions of life, the hopeless spiral of defeatist belief systems, instead, he faced his reality and fought to change.
Looking back on my own life, I’ve not fought like David. Instead, I have poured years of my life down the drain lamenting, hating, numbing and harming the very person I am. Stuck in a “Lord, why like this…” negativity habit, life got sucked from my soul.
I remember one night a decade or more ago. I had come from a very difficult conversation with someone who had berated me and left me feeling like a failure. This was a short trip for me, then, to failure. The man’s words had echoed into my own negativity. He affirmed all my doubts. I had come home and one of our daughters, Grace, had happened to call just to touch base and ran into me at a low ebb when I couldn’t shake the man’s words.
After speaking with me, she had called her sister, Anna, who was out with her boyfriend, alerting her. So, instead of continuing on their date, Anna and Zack, now our son-in-law, cancelled whatever they had planned and instead came by the house.
I was surprised when they arrived, still reeling in the pain of the night. They walked in, and Zack looked at me, tears still in my eyes and said, “Hey, what’s going on?”
I couldn’t find many words, but haltingly said, “Hitting some low feelings of failure.” Zack looked at me surprised for a moment. He always shoots from the hip. He didn’t ask what lies I was believing, but instead said, “Failure? Well, Brian, you can dismiss that.” Then, pointing at Anna, he said, “Just look at this girl or any of your girls; the feeling is lying. Failures do not produce such quality.”
For Zack it was a simple equation. When I limited my search only to what evidence supported the feeling of failure, that’s what I found, and lamented, “Lord, why like this?” But, what Zack saw looking from the outside in did not echo this at all. And his search for evidence discounted any other negative because of the powerful positives. This was such a lesson for me.
It is interesting how frequently we get locked into the “Lord, why like this?” mentality. We shake our fists at heaven and post an online rant, instead of taking action on earth.
When do you say, “Why like this?” in your life? When do you complain rather than act?
No matter what you encounter, choose to act. Find the way through! Make the change in your own life. As you do so, there is no telling how this might impact others.
“In 1858, a revival broke out that transformed our nation. The catalyst for this revival was a man whose name was Jeremiah Lanphier, who announced a prayer meeting one day in Fulton Street in New York City. It was to be held on September the 23rd, 1857. He went to that prayer meeting, and there was nobody there but him.”see: sermons.love/david-jeremiah/223
Had you been Jeremiah Lanphier, would you have gone back the next week to “meet alone with God?” This is the part of his story which always astounds me. This man didn’t say, “Lord, why like this?”
“But he kept going and kept announcing it. And in a few months, more than 50,000 people a day were gathering for prayer all over New York City. The revival spread from one city to the next, from Cleveland to Detroit, to Chicago, to Cincinnati. And between one and two million people are estimated to have found Christ as their Savior during that great revival.
Out of this revival came some interesting things that we all know about today. The gospel era of D.L. Moody, a singer by the name of Ira Sankey, and a songwriter by the name of Fanny Crosby. The birth of a new phrase in our hymnody. Millions singing lighthearted gospel songs like ‘Blessed Assurance’ and ‘Revive Us Again’.” (quote source)
Shake it off, the “Lord, why like this?” attitude. Shake it down. Refuse it. When a person decides to use failures to create victories, when someone chooses perseverance over giving up, God moves. There’s no telling what God might want to accomplish through you or me if we would do so ourselves. Today, take the next step.