“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6
“Much of your energy is wasted on wounded pride and thwarted dreams,” were the words of my devotional this morning that jumped off the page and pierced my very soul.
In this recent season of life I have felt misunderstood by others, but instead of taking these hurts to Jesus, I fed my wounded pride with self-pity to the point of completely falling apart. In one situation, I lost my temper and was very hurtful with my words! My reaction was out of proportion to the situation, and this was a result of stored hurts that had compiled over time. I had not been taking every thought captive nor trusting God. In my anger, I chose to sin, and seeing this anger come flowing from my inmost parts brought me to my knees. I started out angry at others and ended up more angry at myself. In some little country church far from home, I found myself on my face crying out to God and asking Him to show me where I belong. “This road I am traveling seems far too difficult Lord! I must be going the wrong way. How can I get where I am going on an easier and safer path?”
After I calmed down a bit, I decided that surely God must have something to say to me. I looked for a Bible in the pew, and all I could find was an old hymnal. I opened it and came right to the song entitled, “The way of the cross leads home.” How had I forgotten that the way home, to that place of rest, safety and security, is only through the cross? Somehow these words brought me the most profound comfort. It may be a hard road I am traveling, but that doesn’t mean it is the wrong road. My Savior walked the Calvary Road.
Over the past several months I have cried more tears of sorrow before God and men, and I have cried out in frustration more than perhaps any other time in my life. Why is God allowing so much pain and loss in this season of my life? Why am I so weak so much of the time? And why, in such a stormy season, is God allowing me to be misunderstood and misrepresented by others around me?
I want so much to be free, yet I make too many internal choices to keep myself bound in my own “wounded pride.” In my oversensitivity, I magnify the degree of injury and fail to take each issue of pain and hurt to Jesus soon enough. God has been showing me that my demand to be understood and loved by all those in my life all the time is really just a lack of humility and trust in God. My demand to be loved and understood is really my own pride and an unwillingness to wait on God’s timing. True freedom comes from walking God’s way…in praise and peace, humility, trust, love and contentment.
Seeking our safety and security in anything other than God is an idolatry that leads to bitterness and depression. Hope placed in anything or anyone other than God is misplaced hope that will provide a foothold for the Enemy to step into our lives and bring us down emotionally, mentally and spiritually. “Poor me” does not draw me to the cross…it just leads me into a “pity party” all by my lonesome. Focusing on my wounded pride and thwarted dreams had fueled a tendency in me to withdraw from others emotionally and to withhold real love and truth out of my own fear of getting hurt, and that just made me depressed and lonely.
Sitting in that church I knew that if was to survive the journey upon this road, I must be covered and empowered by His grace as much as possible. Grumbling, complaining, self-pity and pride will always cut off His grace in my life. The Calvary Road is the road of humility. Clearly I had not chosen humility. My temper and unkind words blatantly revealed that I had some real repenting to do before God and before men. I remembered how Jesus was silent before his oppressors when he was being wrongly accused, and the only time he spoke up was not to defend Himself, but to proclaim the truth in love. I was not silent – I chose to defend myself and demand to be understood. I did not wait on God to defend me, and as a result I sinned greatly. I started out with my heart demanding apologies from others and found myself now responsible to do the apologizing. Because I desperately desired God’s grace in my life, I had to go and apologize without demanding an apology on the other side. God’s grace by definition is His empowering presence, and His grace is given to the humble. Humility says, “I am wrong. I’m sorry. Please forgive me!”
Humility and gratitude are the keys that unlock the prisons that so often confine us! If I want God’s presence, then I must also choose to praise. I realized that I focus far too much on those who are harming me rather than those who are loving me. I realized that I focus on what I have lost and not on what I have been given. I realized that I have chosen to compare myself to those who are in sin and not to the God who has called me to be like Him. My devotional this morning ended with these words, “Remember that gratitude and grumbling cannot dwell together. Choose which shall reign in the depths of your heart and soul.”
In my great self-love, I had forgotten one very important truth found in I Peter 5:6, to which I am now choosing to cling, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (I Peter 5:6).