A dear friend of mine, who teaches Junior High, has developed some great ways to respond to whiny adolescents. Whenever a student complains about an assignment by saying, “Do I have to do it?!” Bill replies, “No, you don’t have to do it. You get to do it.” (smile)
There is something to be said about having the right perspective as we look at our day-to-day situations; particularly our struggles and trials. We can look upon them as things we must endure or as challenges that we get to conquer! This perspective can change not only our outlook, but the outcome as well.
As Christ-followers, we are called to live out this perspective. The apostle Paul says:
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Note that this is not some sort of Polly-anna-ish, “put on a happy face” attitude adjustment. Nor is it an exercise in the power of positive thinking. Paul is not proclaiming a delusion filled self-invincibility, but a confident “Christ-dependency.” The two key words in the verse are “through Him.” We cannot do all things in our own power; in fact, there is very little we can really do in our human strength. But, “through Christ” all things can be done.
There is no joy in doing things we hate to do, whether it is: a tedious job, working through relationship issues, parenting complex children, doing the right thing when it is inconvenient, or living with a difficult health condition. However, there is joy to be found; not in the task or trial, but in the presence of Jesus. We just don’t get to do it; we get to do it with Jesus! We get the opportunity to see His power at work: sometimes in changing our situations, all the time in transforming us.
I remember awhile back when I got called in for jury duty (ugh!) On my way to court (after dropping off a sick child to be with Letty, while she was in the middle of parent conferences) I was totally upset with the inane timing of this summons. However, at the same time I was experimenting with this “getting to do hard stuff with Jesus” theme. So I wrestled between what I wanted to do (whine and complain) and what God wanted me to do (focus on the presence of Jesus). As usual, God won. The wrestling ended with a prayer of surrender: “God, obviously you want me at court. So please change my attitude. May I be responsive to whatever You have for me – help me enjoy the fact that I get to serve jury duty … with Jesus!”
Eventually I did get dismissed, but only after waiting two hours in the holding tank. Nothing eventful happened. No significant conversations with others took place. (I did get to read a golf magazine – cover to cover!) But the main thing was that the peace of Jesus was with me. I normally would have gotten upset or huffy about this; but I was remarkably calm. I learned another valuable lesson in faith. And it also gave me another great (but humbling) story to share with you!
So when you face those hard things, tasks or trials, don’t ask “Do I have to do this?” Tell yourself, “I get to do this … with Jesus!” It will lower your blood pressure and open your eyes to the wonders of a Christ-filled life.
What are some hard things or tasks you are facing this week?
What can help you grasp the truth that Jesus is with you as you face these things?