What is really happening is that person thinks his life is a book and he is the hero, and I am the one causing him trouble. The things I often get so upset about are nothing more than an accidental crossing of paths or an idiosyncrasy that, in my own self-centeredness, I have decided to take as a personal offense when the other person was not directing it toward me at all.
And in the same vein, I think everything is supposed to turn out wonderfully, a happily ever after for all my goodness and faithfulness, because I am the hero after all. Admit it: you have the same problem, and it can cost us our souls if we are not careful.
I think of John the Baptist, a man whose birth was announced by the same angel who announced Jesus’ birth. He gave up any semblance of a normal life to fulfill the mission God gave him. If not for John’s preaching, what would have become of Christianity? If it took several years for the men who actually walked with Jesus to figure things out, what of the masses if John had not worked so hard to prepare them for the coming of the kingdom? The thought of 3000 being baptized on the Day of Pentecost would have been nothing more than a pipe dream.
John also gave up what others might have expected in the way of glory. He watched Jesus begin his ministry and gradually take away many of his own disciples. For all his sacrifice this is the thanks he gets? John did not look for thanks. Indeed, as his ministry waned and an unjust death at about the age of 31 loomed, his remaining disciples came to him complaining about Jesus’ growing popularity as if it were an affront to John. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but, that I am sent before him. He that has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:27-30.
It may have been written many years after his death, but John understood the true meaning of to them that love God all things work together for good, Rom 8:28. He understood because he recognized the part that we ignore: according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified, vv 29,30. John knew he was not the hero of the story. He knew that he need not expect this life to be a bed of roses with a happy ending.
He also knew that the purpose of God for which he worked was to give everyone the opportunity to be saved, and that was the good for which all things worked together. If it took his not being able to have a family, if it took living a meager existence in the wilderness, if it took his murder, he was willing to bear it.
If John could have that attitude, a man who lived a short, strange, sacrificial life and died a martyr by the hand of a ruthless woman and her weak husband, why can’t we who live relatively normal, happy, safe lives?
There will be trials. There will be moments of grief. The life we live here may not have the happy ending we always dreamed of, but the purpose of God will make it seem like a mere trifle if we just stop thinking everything is about us, and remember who the real Hero is.
Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, Heb 12:1,2.
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