Adversity tends to pull us down.
It hurts when others sin against us, take us for granted, fail to stand up for us, or break their commitments to us. Such treatment can easily cause us to feel discouraged, bitter or depressed.
But there is a way to convert these kinds of unpleasant feelings into heartfelt worship and personal growth.
Whenever adversity pulls you down, imagine that you’ve jumped onto a diving board, bending it with your weight. If you just roll off to the side, you’ll fall into the water. But if you deliberately fling yourself upward, that bent diving board will actually throw you high into the air.
You can apply this metaphor in real life by using unpleasant experiences and feelings as a springboard to understanding and marveling more deeply at the character of God.
Does it hurt when someone sins against you, takes you for granted, fails to stand up for you, or breaks a commitment they’ve made to you? Of course it does. And that pain can easily make you want to hurt people back or at least to pull away from them.
Think of this: God feels that same pain billions of times a day as people around the world treat him in those same hurtful ways (see, e.g., Gen. 6:5-6; Ps. 78:40). His grief is infinitely greater than yours, and his holy righteousness would justify the total abandonment or devastating judgment of the world.
Yet that’s not how God responds. He is so very different from us.
As explained in this article about common grace, day after day “[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Ps. 145:9). He patiently restrains his judgment, “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
This realization should move us to marvel at God … and to worship him. He is treated far worse every single day by far more people than we are, and yet he responds with mercy, grace, and steadfast love (Ps. 103:8). What a God! What a King! What a Savior!
Let his example inspire you. The next time others disappoint or mistreat you, use that experience as a springboard to worship. Multiply your unpleasant feelings a billion-fold to imagine the grief that God must feel every day, and then worship him for his response of mercy, grace and love … which reached its pinnacle when he sent his Son into the world to die for our sins (John 3:16).
Then let your worship inspire and stimulate personal growth.
Admit to God how far you fall short of his example. Then pray that he would remember his promise to fill you with his Spirit (John 14:26), cleanse your heart (Ezek. 36:25-27), and enable you to become more like him as you “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:21-24).
This kind of response won’t come naturally or easily at first. But through consistent, grace-empowered practice, you can develop the marvelous habit of transforming every experience of life–even those that are painful–into a springboard for richer worship and further spiritual growth … just as David himself did:
I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, set me on high!
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:29-30).
– Ken Sande
- How do you typically respond when people sin against you, take you for granted, fail to stand up for you or break their commitments to you? With worship and growth, or with self-pity, bitterness, retaliation, or withdrawal?
- How does God treat you when you sin against him, take him for granted, fail to stand up for him, or break your commitments to him? Do you take his response for granted or does it regularly amaze you and inspire you to follow his example?
- Think of a recent experience of mistreatment? How can you use it as a springboard for worship and personal growth?
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© 2016 Ken Sande
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