by The Mad Preacher Rod Davis
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. (2 Corinthians 1:8)
Many times I’ve felt much like the Apostle Paul. I’ve had my share of pain and rejection in my life, and I’ve often had to face them without any human comfort. Yet, hardships are just part of life. We all face struggles from time to time. None of us are immune. We have no choice over the cards that life deals us. However, we can choose how we play those cards. Do I sit in the corner, licking my wounds, buried in bitterness and self-pity, or do I adopt Paul’s attitude? For he went on to say:
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. (Vs. 9-10)
It’s so easy to look at what we don’t have and let that overshadow the many ways that God has so abundantly blessed us. He’s the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) He’s the one who told His followers, “I’ll never leave you are forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) God’s the one who said, “I’ll supply all of your needs.” (Philippians 4:19) He’s the one who has saved me completely. (Hebrews 7:25)
God has blessed us beyond measure. Everything else is icing on the cake. So, the choice is mine as to what to do when troubles beset me. Do I choose anger and bitterness or do I choose the hope and peace found in God’s Word? It’s not an easy choice and it costs you something, but anything worthwhile always cost us something. What is the price? Simple, it’s our pride. It’s the evil “I”.
Psychiatrists call it the ego. It’s that part of our psychological makeup that believes it must fight for itself in the world. Left unchecked by the Holy Spirit it devolops into a dog eat dog mentallity that leads to destruction.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
The ego is the basis of pride and pride is the source of all sin. It’s the starting place of all negative human behavior. Not only is it the root of such things as arrogance, self-importance and religious bigotry, it also gives birth to things like fear, anger, self-debasement, self-pity and shame.
I spent most of my younger years unaware of the fact that I was full of pride. I had a wicked mixture of religious arrogance and self-loathing. Thus, most of my life was spent lamenting over how cruel life seemed to me. I was focused on the evil “I”. Then one day God expose my pride to me in the form a woman in a church I use to attend.
This lady was in a terrible emotional condition. Nearly every worship service found her at the alter having one of the pastors praying with her over the same things. Then one night, after worship, I overheard her bellyaching to someone about her life. “I’m afraid of what my husband and children would think if I ….” “I’m afraid to try that because I might fail”, on and on she went voicing the same theme. As I listened the Lord revealed to me the true source of her problem.
In the past, everyone was trying to treat the symptoms—fear, self-pity, poor self-image, faithlessness, est., rather than treating the problem. “I know what your problem is.” I told her. “What?… What?!” she asked, eyes wide open and filling with tears. “It’s pride.” I answered. “PRIDE?!” she exclaimed, “PRIDE?! Oh, no! What do you mean?!” “Well, it’s evident in the things you say. ‘I’m afraid of this.’ ‘I’m afraid of that.’ ‘I’m afraid of what my family will think.’ Then I asked her, “What is the middle letter in the word sin?” “I”, she responded. “What’s the middle letter of the word pride?” I continued. “It’s ‘I’.” she responded. Her eyes were now like water fountains. Streaks of mascara ran down her glistening cheeks.
“You see,” I continued. “All pride is self-centeredness. Your focus is on you and your feelings of inadequateness.” That hit home with her. “Oh, no!” she cried. “What do I do?” I answered, “Repent. Recognize it as sin and, once for all, repent of it. Then study The Bible and see what God thinks of you as his child.” I prayed with her and walked her through as she asked for God’s forgiveness for her pride.
Its pride, that evil “I”, which also causes us to loose our cool with others, be it at home or in traffic. It’s pride that makes us think that everything’s supposed to go or way. Then, it is pride that gets us all bent out of shape when things don’t go our way. It’s pride that drives us to fear, worry and a sense of inadequacy. It all boils down to one thing — self-centeredness. The choice is ours to make. I can’t blame anyone but myself for the bad choices I’ve made and the bitter aftermath that followed. I made my bed. I must now sleep in it. You reap what you sow and so forth.
I wasted so many years wallowing in bitterness and self-pity. I’m now choosing to do otherwise. Theses days I’m letting God’s Word be my mirror. With God’s help, I’m keeping my pride in check… ah… must of the time. Am I always successful at it? No. Do I still battle bitterness and feelings of inadequacies? Oh yes, often! However, as time goes by and my relationship with God grows stronger it becomes easier to defeat the evil “I”.
This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)