DayBreaks for 2/13/14 – Disappointment #8 – Why Not Me?
1 Cor. 4:7: For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
The gospels are not flattering when it comes to the disciples. In particular, think of the Last Supper when they argued about who would be greatest and who would/should (at least in their opinion) have the seat of honor. It’s an ugly scene. Yet, we are not that different. When someone else is given an honor, when they are given a blessing (a baby, job, promotion, grade, house, car) that we’ve longed for ourselves, we ask, “Why them and not me?”
We think that it could have been us, and in fact, we think it should have been us. We deserved it…they didn’t. What are we to do and think about this?
First, we need to realize that we have what John Koessler (The Surprising Grace of Disappointment) called “spiritual myopia” that restricts our vision, causing us to focus only on the present. We want to know, like the disciples, where we stand when compared to others. He goes further to say that spiritual myopia is a symptom of a worse disease: spiritual narcissism. In such a “disease” the goal is not to be good, or the best, but rather simply to be better than someone else (and seen and recognized for it). He suggests that the pleasure we get from comparing ourselves to others isn’t so much a joy about our own greatness, but at diminishing someone else in comparison.
Another common mistake is when we think what is significant to us is what is also significant to God. We know Scripture says that our thoughts are not like His, nor our ways like His. So, how are we to know what is truly significant in His eyes? We don’t know which acts of love and service are greatest in His estimation. Who would have ever guessed that it would the one who humbles themselves that will be exalted, or giving a cup of cold water was like giving Jesus a drink on the cross??? We need to realize that it hard to attempt to do great things for God when we cannot even tell the least from the greatest.
We want to do something great. As we get older and the life’s clock ticks loudly in our ears, we scrutinize our past and are dismayed by what we may see. We want the time we have left to really count for something. We want our life to have mattered. Yet God may consign you or I to being a hotel cleaning maid or a toilet bowl cleaner in a bus stop or train station. We look around and see people doing things we think are great for Him and think, “Why not me, God? Why did You give me such a cruddy life and job?”
Theologian Stanley Hauerwas suggested that the moral value of our lives may well be how we live our every day lives doing what we have been given to do. Koessler summarized his thoughts this way: “..we who are immersed in the everyday are often blind to its real spiritual value. Because it is common, it is not holy. Because it is ours, it is not insignificant. Instead of sanctifying the dull present, we dream of a more dynamic reality…we ignore the ordinary in the hope that we will be called to some higher purpose. Because we are waiting for God to do some great thing through us we are dismissive of the small thing that He actually intends us to do.”
God sees things differently than we do. His eye is much sharper than our vision when it comes to a correct assessment of what we have done and are doing. Ultimately, the glory for anything we ever achieve really belongs to Him who made us, gifted us and empowers us.
Disappointed in your station in life and who you are? Hear these encouraging words from John Koessler: …things are not what they seem Our heroes are not God’s heroes. We are not the great ones we thought we were. Our successes are not as successful as we thought. But if that is so, then perhaps it also means that our failures are not so disastrous.
What is more, Christ promises that the day is coming when He will invest our service for God with His own glory and present it to the Father on our behalf. Only then, after what we have done has been bathed in the glow of Christ’s love and grace, will we be competent to evaluate the true value of all we have done…on that day we are liable to find that our measure of who is the greatest in the kingdom of God is wrong.
I suspect that we are in for a great surprise when we see the seating arrangement in heaven…we will acknowledge that God’s judgment is right and laugh, perhaps a little sadly, at the foolishness of all our posturing on this side of glory.
PRAYER: What foolish judges we are, Father, to think we know what is right and best and most worthy, blinded as we are by our sinful selfishness! May we be content to wait to see Your judgment on what we have done once you have invested it with your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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