Getting angry doesn’t make a bad situation better

I struggle with bad drivers. It’s really the one thing that gets me unreasonably upset. I’m not the greatest driver in the world either, but it just makes me really really angry when other people on the road don’t take it seriously. It’s like they don’t understand that they’re controlling a giant killing machine. A car is a weapon, yet many drivers treat it like a toy.

I get angry. And I know I’ve said some things (my passengers can attest) that weren’t very flattering about other drivers on the road. But can you think of a time when yelling at a bad driver actually made them a better driver? Can you actually think of a time when yelling at anyone actually helped them?

man-couple-people-woman_1523x1016Today’s verses are 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

It’s tempting to yell and get angry, especially when we’re mad, but in my experience, losing my temper with someone else never fixes a bad situation. It only makes it worse.

Maybe it’s driving. Maybe it’s schoolwork. Maybe it’s a work project. Whatever situation you’re in, if you’re shouting and getting upset at the people around you, that won’t make them work harder. If anything, it will make them want to quit. It will just put distance between you and them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You still need to speak up for what’s right. You still need to communicate with other people about what you’re thinking and feeling, but you should do it it in a way that is respectful. Be gentle about it.

Being gentle isn’t be weak. That’s an important thing to remember. Being gentle just means you’re taking their thoughts and feelings into consideration. You aren’t behaving like a bulldozer and steamrolling everyone in your path. Oftentimes being gentle actually takes more strength than letting loose on someone does.

If you know someone who believes a lie or who is antagonistic to the truth or who is just being stupid, regardless of how angry you are at them, it’s your job to love them. That’s our job. Period. Love people, in spite of how they act. Don’t pull punches, though. What’s true is true, whether people believe it or not, and as a Christ-follower it’s your job to be right. You should know what God says and so it. But that doesn’t mean you have to pummel people over the head with clubs. We don’t use the Bible to beat people up. We use the Bible to teach ourselves how to live, and in the peace of the life we life with Christ, other people come to Him.

Remember, it’s not up to us to save people. It’s up to us to live the way God says, and people around us will be drawn to that.

So don’t put it on yourself to bludgeon people into submission. If you’re going to bludgeon anyone, bludgeon yourself.

You can fight someone else all day long and have nothing to show for it but a fractured relationship. Instead, speak what’s true with love. You can tell people what God says without being hurtful. Do that instead. Leave the rest to God. He’s the only one who can change hearts, and that’s where the root of all our problems starts anyway.

Advertisements
Pacing bear at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Strong

I think of myself as a strong person. I’m independent and self-reliant, almost to a fault, and I hate asking for help. The way I look at it, if it’s something I have to ask help in completing, maybe it’s something I don’t need to worry about doing. Many times, I’d rather not do it if I can’t do it alone.

But that’s a silly, prideful way to live because nobody is really strong enough to make it through life alone. The older I get, the more I begin to understand exactly what it costs to be that strong, and the more I learn that I really don’t understand strength at all.

Pacing bear at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Pacing bear at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Chronicles 16:11.

Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.

I blogged on this verse earlier this year, focusing on how it says we’re supposed to seek God. Continually. But this morning, something else stood out to me that I hadn’t really seen before.

This verse is nestled in a song David sang as his armies were in the process of moving the Ark of the Covenant (the symbol of God’s presence on Earth in the Old Testament) back to Jerusalem. He sang this as they reached the city, if I have my timeline right. It’s a long song, and you can find it in 1 Chronicles 16.

This statement is in between lyrics about praising God for what He’s done and remembering the greatness of His deeds. But what struck me this morning wasn’t the bit about continually seeking God. That’s important because it’s easy for us to lose focus. What hit me as I read this verse today was the statement that we need to be searching for the Lord and for His strength.

Really?

It’s not surprising to me that we need to search for God’s strength, I guess. I’m not strong enough to make it alone; I get that. But what does God’s strength look like? Have you ever wondered? Ask yourself what that means.

God’s strength.

Strength has many definitions and connotations. There are many different kinds of strength, and I think we need to be clear about which one God is talking about.

Are we talking about the strength to create a universe out of nothing? Are we talking about the strength to part the Red Sea and leave it gaping open long enough for millions of people to cross over on dry land? Are we talking about the strength to stop the sun in the sky?

God did all of those things for the Israelites, and all of those things demonstrate that God is very strong. But is that the strength we’re supposed to search for? I don’t think so. Because that kind of strength is unattainable for us. I don’t think God would tell us to seek something if it were something we could never achieve.

So what kind of strength does God possess that we can achieve? What kind of strength can we learn from Him? Well, this is my personal opinion, but it makes sense to me.

It takes more strength to be patient and to wait for God to answer a prayer than it does to get up and try to do it myself. Action is easy; waiting is difficult.

I think it takes more strength to love people truly than it does to ignore them. Indifference is easy; love is difficult.

I think it takes more strength to get up the second time I’ve fallen down than it does to stand up before I fall the first time. The first try is easy; the second and third tries are difficult.

Real strength is facing those difficult moments in life without hesitation because it’s what God has called us to do, because it’s the right thing to do. That is the kind of strength God has, and that is the kind of strength He wants us to seek.

God is patient, especially with us. God loves, even when it hurts Him. God never gives up on us, even when we give Him every reason in the book to turn away and never look back. And it takes a strength far beyond the physical to do all of that. So maybe we can’t physically have the strength of God, but we can mimic His strength in the way we live and in the way we treat each other.

What does it mean to seek His strength? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, just like in Wal-Mart or Sears, the best way to find something you’re looking for is to ask for directions. So ask Him for it. Life isn’t one big scavenger hunt with God giggling about our failures from the sky. It’s more like a treasure hunt, and He’s waiting for us to ask Him for the map.

Very present and well-proved

I am a stubborn person. I like doing things myself, and I don’t ever want to ask for help, even if I need it. I don’t think this was ever more aptly demonstrated than my trip to Guatemala, most notably the situation with the horse.

It’s not that I’m afraid of horses per se; I just haven’t had much experience with them. Looking back now, I should have started out on the horse instead of trying to walk the whole way to that first village, but I really thought I could make it. I just didn’t expect to dehydrate so quickly. And then, of course, once I figured out that I was in trouble, the rational part of my brain was telling me that I needed to ask for help. But the rest of me–the stronger, louder, obstinate side of me–told me I would just cause more trouble for everyone if I wimped out. So I didn’t say anything and kept going. And that was pretty stupid. I’m really glad the Colonel was along to keep me honest. =) As he stated, I was going to cause more trouble if I passed out and he had to carry me out . . .

I’m not good at asking for help. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of the jungle running out of water or if I’m at work drowning in projects. I don’t like to ask for help because I have this issue of not wanting people to think I’m weak. It’s all pride. I know that, and I’m working on it.

Being independent is good in some cases, but no one is self-sufficient except God. And that’s a lesson I think I have to relearn every day.

God wants to help us. That’s what I have to remind myself. God wants to be involved in my life, actively working alongside me and helping me through difficult situations. But God is a gentleman and won’t force me to accept His help. He wants me to ask.

The verse today is Psalm 46:1.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.

That’s the New Living Translation, but I also want to list what the Amplified Version says too.

1GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

I love that. God’s not just always read to help us . . . . His help is “very present and well-proved” help. How many people can you say are willing to offer help like that? Most of the time, the help people offer is according to their availability or their schedules. But not God. If we ask Him for help, He will help us.

He wants to help us. But we pitiful humans are so proud that we don’t ask, at least we don’t ask as much as we should. I know I don’t.

So instead of battling through life alone, I’m trying to do better about recognizing when I need God’s help . . . . which is every moment of every day. It’s not about being weak. It’s about realizing the power that is available to me through Christ. There’s no situation I can’t handle without His help. And there’s nothing I can’t accomplish without God working through me.

If I try to get through life on my own, I’m not going to make it. Phsycially, emotionally, financially–I’ll be a wreck. But if I let God lead me, and if I trust Him to help me make the right choices, I can’t go wrong.

I’ve asked for God’s help today. I will probably have to ask for God’s help a dozen more times before the day is over. Mainly, I’m probably just going to have to ask Him to help me ask Him for help . . . if that makes any sense. But I have no doubt that He will actually give me help.

That’s what He does.

He’s my refuge. He’s my strength. He’s my help. My very present and well-proved help. And I have access to Him freely because He’s my Father. And trying to get through life on my own is childish and prideful, especially when He has offered over and over again to help me.

We just have to ask.