(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)
I have been in tight, painful spots on more than one occasion in life. I wanted to make progress, yet I was horribly stuck, like at least two times when I was without employment for months and months or the times when I felt tired of being single and felt like I could not take another day of loneliness and wished that God would send my husband, right that moment.
Of course it did not happen and I had to learn the patience of enduring patiently through suffering: Years and years of singleness, months and months of unemployment, months and months of financial lack and embarrassment.
When we are down and out, it is easy to get frustrated and to develop a bad attitude in our suffering, much like the wife of Job in the Bible, who, when her husband had lost everything, including the children she had borne him, encouraged him to curse God and die.
After all, in her view, God could have prevented the situation but he didn’t, so there was no use continuing to serve him. There was no use continuing to maintain a good attitude and a positive outlook. There was no use continuing to trust His plan, wherever it led and however painful it was because in her mind, God had let them down. He had taken away everything from them and made them look bad in the eyes of their friends.
Thankfully, Job did not listen to her foolish advice but rightfully rebuked her for what she had said. He did not understand what God was doing or why he had allowed him to suffer so but he chose to continue to serve him because he knew he was sovereign and had the right to do whatever he wanted with the people he had made.
When going through months and months of unemployment and financial lack which spanned more than a year in one of the instances, I suffered embarrassment, shame, ridicule, guilt, criticism, scorn, condemnation, ostracism, spitefulness, insults, feelings of worthlessness and a whole range of other negativity.
However, I was mindful of one thing: As painful as what I was going through was God was still on his throne and in control. Whatever had happened and was happening (even when nothing for me was happening), whether it was chastening for my sins or otherwise, HE had allowed it.
I therefore needed not to get bitter but to praise him anyway and this I did. I was mindful of the Israelites in the Bible in particular, who, every time a difficulty arose in their lives while on their journey to the land that God had promised them, they chose to have a bad attitude, which only made their situation worse. God came through for them in every situation but sadly, before he did so, they were faithless and never applied what they learned in one situation, to the next. They refused to grow!
Every time a difficulty arose, they grumbled and complained, until God decided finally that he was so fed up of their negative attitude and faithlessness, that he would destroy all of them gradually in the wilderness (except Joshua and Caleb) and take their children in to the promised land instead.
Did God’s plan make them change their behaviour? No it did not. They mourned at the news but it wasn’t genuine repentance. For, it wasn’t long before another problem, similar to one they had experienced before, arose and so did their poor attitude again!
They had moved to the desert of Zin and found that that place had no water. Instead of remembering what God had done miraculously for them though in the past and how he had provided on the last occasion when they had needed water, they resorted to complaining… again.
This led me to thinking: There are some attitudes, like the Israelites, that we can have when we are facing problems in life or adversity or a low moment and these poor attitudes are detrimental to us and our future because they only make things worse!
What poor attitudes am I referring to? Well let us look at the Israelites in Numbers 20:1-5 for a moment. It reads:
- “Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.”
If we were to analyse this scripture, the main problem or difficulty the Israelites faced was having no water to drink. However, instead of trusting God to provide like he had done on a previous occasion when the situation was similar, they decided that because they did not like where they were and what they were facing, they would act up and display the following list of negative attitudes:
- ONE – Have a ‘woe is me mentality’ and behave like a helpless victim who the system of life had wrongfully done so much wrong to.
- TWO – Complain and grumble about their situation.
- THREE – Not take responsibility for their situation – It was due to their own disobedience, unbelief, bad attitude and rebellion in the past, that God had given them up to hopelessness, promising that he would allow them to die in the wilderness before they reached the promised land and only take their children in. Instead of owning up to their faults and realizing that they were to blame for their situation due to their sins, they blamed Moses and Aaron and even God.
- FOUR – Exercise faithlessness by believing that the situation was too big for their God, that he could not help them and focusing solely on what their eyes could see, not on what he had promised.
- FIVE – Forget the miracles God had worked in the past and how he had delivered them from a similar situation before.
- SIX – Openly rebel against God-given authority – Moses and Aaron were instituted by God as their leaders and the scornful words of the Israelites were in defiance of this authority.
- SEVEN – Long to go back to Egypt, which is representative of the world system, instead of moving forward with the Lord because a life separated and sanctified unto God was not paying off as their sense of entitlement had expected.
- EIGHT – Disrespectfully badmouth and be bitter against even God.
Do these characteristics and negative attitudes seem familiar to you? Have you too been guilty of behaving like how the Israelites behaved when a difficulty arose in their lives?
If so, you need to be sorrowful for your sin for that is what it is. You need to go before God right now and repent for your negative attitude, which is ugly in the eyes of God. For, as bad as your situation is or has been, these attitudes that you have displayed are far worse and reminiscent of those displayed by the Israelites, who God refused to take into the Promised Land and eventually destroyed.
It doesn’t matter what situation you faced or still face. Yes you may have thought that Prince Charming would have come by now. I certainly did, yet I am STILL single.
Yes you may have figured that you’d be married by now and have children by now and have your own home by now or that you would have gotten that job or promotion by now or your poor health would have been restored by now. You probably thought your finances would have been in order by now or that you would have reached further in life by now but instead, you feel perpetually stuck, while you painfully watch others moving forward.
Whatever your situation, whatever your predicament, whatever stubborn wall you face in life that doesn’t seem to want to come down, your poor attitude only serves to make it worse because it is insulting to the God of heaven.
Until you change your attitude and repent for where you have behaved like the Israelites, do not expect to move forward to that next step in your life or to make any meaningful progress. For, your mindset needs to change. Your heart needs to be humbled under the mighty hand of the sovereign God. You need to get rid of complaint, faithlessness, your warped sense of entitlement and truly develop faith in God through relationship with Jesus Christ, humility and a spirit of thanksgiving.
It is possible to praise God through adversity and to continue to faithfully serve him while you bleed inside. I know because by the grace of God, when it hurt the most, I did just that.
He truly upheld me in HIS righteousness in those trying moments because I had no more strength of my own. I was pained in my heart but it did not show and God gave me paradoxically, a joy that no adversity could take away from me. I praised him more in those moments than I have ever done in my entire life and sang so much to him, that I realized, that like David in Psalm 32:7, these were Songs of Deliverance.
Come to God now and acknowledge your sin before him. You have not behaved yourself honourably in his sight when going through your painful situation. You may not have complained out loud but you resented him within. You blamed him for what you were going through and developed bitterness in your pride.
If this is true, repentance is available today for you. God’s forgiveness is available today for you. Go to him now and humbly and make things right.
(Written on 27th July, 2019)
Dear Reader, if this Article benefited you in anyway or you felt convicted, for further edification, please also read:
- Note 97 – Seven (7) Mindsets That Will Keep You Stuck In The Land Of Sterility