“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.” – Proverbs 19:3
Here is a common problem. When things go bad for us, we start to blame God as if He were the source of all our problems. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, we say, “It was the woman you gave me,” forgetting all along that no one made us eat the fruit.
Complaining is counterproductive in many ways.
First, it may turn us against God and block the flow of His blessing into our lives.
Second, it may cause us to blame others instead of looking within the source of our problems.
Third, it may cause us to miss the lessons God is trying to teach us through the difficulties we encounter.
Hard times provide some of the most important lessons of spiritual growth.
Several years ago a friend shared a statement that revolutionized my thinking in this area. It is deceptively simple: “When hard times come, be a student, not a victim.” The more I ponder those words, the more profound they seem. Many people go through life as professional victims always talking about how unfair life is.
[The chart below will help you identify whether you see yourself as a victim or a student of your circumstances]:
A VICTIM (IMMATURE) PERSON: A STUDENT (MATURE) PERSON:
|Asks, “Why did this happen to me?”||Asks, “What can I learn from this?”|
|Blames others for his problems||Asks, “How much of this did I bring on myself?”|
|Believes hard times have come because God is trying to punish him||Understands that God allows hard times in order to help him grow|
|Looks at everyone else and cries out, “Life isn’t fair.”||Looks at life and says, “What’s happened to me could have happened to anybody.”|
|Would rather complain than find a solution.||Has no time to complain because he is making the best of his situation.|
|Believes the deck of life is forever stacked against him.||Believes that God is able to reshuffle the deck anytime He wants to.|
|Feels so sorry for himself that he has not time for others.||Focuses on helping others so that he has no time to feel sorry for himself.|
|Begs God to remove all the problems of life so that he might be happy.||Has learned through the problems of life that God alone is the source of all true happiness.|
|Worry about what other people think of them.||Know that the only thing that matters is what God thinks of them.|
|Limp through life, complaining about their heavy burdens.||Race toward the finish line, looking to their reward.|
Many things happen to us beyond our control. In that sense, we are all victims of unexpected circumstances. Unfortunately, some people never rise above the victim mode. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have the opportunity to choose the way we respond to the things that happen to us. By the grace of God, we can decide to become students, not victims, as we face the trials of life.
Prayer: O Lord, help me to be a student and nor a victim today. Amen.
Are you a complainer?
What would your friends and family say?
In what areas of life are you most tempted to be a victim?
What can you do to become a student instead?
About the Author: Ray Pritchard (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary; D.Min., Talbot School of Theology) is the founder and President of Keep Believing Ministries (http://www.keepbelieving.com/blog/). He was for many years the Senior Pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. He has been a professor and guest lecturer at many schools and is a frequent guest on nationally broadcast radio programs. He has ministered extensively overseas, preaching in India, Nepal, Paraguay, Colombia, Haiti, Nigeria, Switzerland, Russia, and Belize. He has written more than twenty books. He has written close to 30 books on the Christian Life. The article above was excerpted and adapted in chart form – from his excellent devotional on the book of Proverbs entitled The ABC’S of Wisdom. Chicago, Moody Press, 1997, 50-52.