“Why did he do that?” The critical spirit rose in me. Later that same day I found myself wrestling with less than affirming thoughts about another over a trivial thing. Irritation showed up when the car in front of me failed to move when the light turned green. While I was around a happy family, listening to their laughter, my feelings of loss took center stage in my mind and I inwardly complained to the Lord, “Why them, not me?” My mood was uglier than one of those terrible holiday sweaters sold at Walmart™! The trap of being consumed with my agenda, my needs, my feelings, had sprung. Becoming aware of the place to which I slipped, I realized that I needed a dose of humility!
Pride shows up dressed in many costumes – meanness, manipulative actions designed to get our own way, complaining about the blessings of another, and doubting God. We are especially susceptible to prideful behaviors in this busy, stressful Season. Our schedules are often full, leaving us exhausted. We tire of long lines in stores, of traffic, of endless demands on our time and energy. Right in that moment, we are likely to slip into “Me, first” behaviors. Yes, it is a natural protective response but it is not good nor godly.
Think about it this way. When I complain, criticize, or push to the front of the line though I may not be consciously aware but what I am really saying is this: “Lord, I won’t trust You to take care of my needs. I won’t choose contentment that allows me to find my Peace in You. I’m taking charge!” That is not good, is it?
God’s people complained about their lot in life, accusing Him of failing them. His answer was not to relieve their stress immediately. Instead, He asked them to change their perspective. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?” (Isaiah 40:25-27, NLT) Look up! Renew your hope in Me!
Are your emotions in turmoil today?
Are there behaviors that show your frustration?
Are you snapping at your children?
Are you seeking solace in criticizing another, or tempted to indulge your desire for something that tempts you?
In those moments, we need to give ourselves a ‘time out.’ A wise parent sees their child slipping out of control and intervenes before a crisis. They take Tommy aside and put him in his room for some time alone, perhaps to fall asleep for a much needed nap. When we are acting in ways better suited to a 3 year-old, our Heavenly Father invites us to pause, to reflect, to pray, to become re-centered.
I gave myself a ‘time out’ on that ugly day. I refocused on the important stuff. I spent a few moments to appropriately acknowledge my own grief. I chose to thank God for the friends, the opportunities, the grace He gives – and soon found myself with a sweeter attitude.
When you become aware of pridefulness, when Self takes over, choose a different path. Instead of ruining the day with an explosion of anger, instead of damaging a relationship with bitter accusations, instead of stewing inside about ‘the unfairness of it all,’ take a break. Tell Jesus, in an honest humble prayer, about it and then listen to the Spirit. That Scripture I quoted a moment ago, finishes with a passage more familiar to many of us. It speaks of renewal found in the Lord.
Our word from the Word today is worthy of some deep reflection. “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31, NLT)
Rest on His promise.
And, you will find peace.
O Come O Come Emmanuel
O come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
O come Desire of nations bind
All peoples in one heart and mind\
Bid envy strife and quarrels cease
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace
John Mason Neale | Thomas Helmore © Words: Public Domain