It’s been said that you can’t necessarily control how you feel about something – but you can control how you respond to it. That’s true, but as I go on it becomes more and more apparent that – as a follower of Jesus – I have a choice not only how I respond to things, but what things I respond to.
Jesus talks in Matthew 5 about how we respond to people who hurt us – if they slap the right cheek, turn the left to them too. If they take your tunic, let them take your cloak, too. If someone forces you to go a mile with them, go ahead and make it two. (vs. 38-42)
It makes me wonder: what is it about a Christian that makes them uniquely equipped to do that sort of thing? What is it about us that makes us unafraid of being hurt, of being taken advantage of, of giving more of ourselves?
The answer must be that we have something greater than our physical comfort, our stuff, and our energy – we have something that replenishes us even when the things that most of us would consider needs (I need to heal, I need to save money, I need to rest, etc.)
We have the Father.
We have access to the presence of God the Father – creator, sovereign leader, Lord.
We have access to Jesus the Son – all-encompassing sacrifice, Prince of Peace, King, God with us.
We have access to the Holy Spirit – all-consuming fire, comforter, testifier of Christ to us.
Back to an earlier thought: we have a choice as to what we respond to – we can respond to our circumstances, or to God. I’ve been dealing with this a lot lately. We have a choice – we can very easily give in to disappointment, when a situation doesn’t work out the way we want. Maybe that investment didn’t pan out. Maybe that crush turned you down. Maybe that event you tried to plan didn’t come together. Maybe work was long this week, maybe it ate up all of your time and energy, maybe it’s not letting up anytime soon. Maybe you didn’t get the call back from that job interview you took.
There seems to be this way that we’re trained to think about disappointment – we treat it with release of some sort. We treat it with a tub of ice cream and romantic comedies; we treat it with a few friends and a few more glasses of bourbon; we treat it by taking something into our own hands, going out and buying a pack of cigarettes; we treat it by hooking up with a stranger or a lesser-known acquaintance at a bar; we treat it with a lot of different things.
I can say from experience, however, that these sort of things never quite lift my thinking out from the situation I’ve found myself in. Having a forgotten night at my local watering hole has never made situations better, turning in to myself and stewing on the way I feel has never made it better. Whatever self-medications we give (and I would define a self-medication as an intentional effort to deal with pain in an indirect fashion) will find us wanting.
This is where the Otherness of God comes in. God has a way of meeting our psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs – by giving us something to think about, to meditate upon, to consider that is altogether different and altogether transcendent and altogether more glorious than our circumstance – Himself.
He consumes our cares in an overwhelming flurry of love, grace, and acceptance – the God whose words brought us into existence and who knows our every flaw took every measure to ensure we had a way into His fold, and promised never to leave or forsake us. The God who gave us dreams and desires and cravings gave us those very things for Himself – we dream, desire, and crave everything He is: Love, acceptance, friendship, creativity, loyalty, Comfort, fierce passion. All of our desires find their end in Him.