If you want to have a better life, a happier life, I encourage you to rethink the way you handle all the stuff coming against you. You just cannot be happy without dealing with the resistance.
As mentioned yesterday:
- Resistance should be avoided whenever possible.
- Resistance should be overcome when it can't be avoided.
- Resistance should never, ever be tolerated or endured.
We've already discussed the resistance we should try to avoid. Let's move on to the unavoidable resistance we should (and can) overcome. I see it coming at us from five sources:
2. Other people
5. God (a different kind of resistance requiring a different response)
1. No matter how disciplined we might be, no matter how many precautions we might take, we bring a certain amount of trouble on ourselves that's simply unavoidable—unavoidable because we are human. I'm going to call these things accidents—falling off a roof, eating bad food, blurting out something stupid.
We usually won't endure this kind of resistance. We'd be calling 911 if it was a physical injury, or asking for forgiveness it was an emotional injury. But before going off and doing your own thing, please remember to ask God what He wants you to do. He might heal you right there on the spot. He might use your runaway words to strengthen a relationship. We've talked about this before, but I encourage you to always think of God as your first‐responder.
2. The second source of unavoidable grief comes from other people. We can keep a lot of this sort of trouble from ever stealing our joy, just by declaring God's protection over our lives first thing in the morning. But some of it still just slips through.
The depravity of man (intentional or unintentional) can cause contaminated food supplies, defective products, botched medical procedures, bad social policies, bad economic policies, war, crime, and a host of other evils to come against us. What can we do?
I personally think this is the hardest kind of resistance to overcome. People behaving badly are just everywhere—following after their own self‐interest and the interests of the devil.
Please note: If you are reading this, you have enough freedom to be reasonably successful in overcoming people who are behaving badly. I ask you to intercede on behalf of those men, women, and children who have no freedom to overcome the people who are behaving badly. They need all of us to rescue them (through prayer and whatever physical action is possible) from the various kinds of slavery that exist around the world.
The folks in my life who make me the most miserable are the people in Washington, DC—for at least two reasons. First of all, Sherrel and I spend time throughout the week working to get people out of poverty and off of dependence on government; the Fed's policies however, are creating poverty and dependence on government. Secondly, a big chunk of our insurance business is helping clients with their health insurance needs; the Feds are working to destroy this part of our business as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
We have plenty of reason to cry, “Woe is me… the trouble I see.” (And we do have our moments of weakness.) But, in general, we refuse to “endure” this kind of hardship as if it controls us. When I feel all the joy being sucked out of me by this kind of resistance, I begin to declare the Lord's blessing over all these bureaucrats and politicians. And after a very short time I can get my joy back.
What is happening when I bless my enemies? I am effectively blessing the “hell” out of them. If I curse my enemies (which sometimes happens) I am just supporting what the devil is already doing in their lives. When I bless them however, I am resisting the devil's efforts. I am also realizing just how big my God is, and just how much He loves me. And the joy comes back quickly. And if they still manage to do some damage, I intend to stay on top of it—rather than be buried underneath it. (Please keep in mind that whatever evil slips through God can transform into good. See Genesis 45:5--8, 50:20.)
If you have people in your immediate environment who are behaving badly toward you on a regular basis, please take note. Every time they start getting to you, every time they start to steal your joy, bless them… quickly… intentionally… bless them. And your joy will return quickly. Remember, they can't hurt you if they can't get to you. But one shot of blessing will only civilize them until their next round of bad behavior. You may have to do this several times a day until they straighten up; but until then, if you don't bless them they will make your life miserable.
Please note: Obviously, declaring the Lord's blessing over your enemies should not be done to their face. But there is another kind of blessing you can do to their face, if you can bring yourself to do it. Bless them by being kind to them and helping them be successful.
3. When the F‐5 tornado destroyed much of Joplin almost two years ago, the joy in our entire community was also destroyed. More than 160 people died from the storm. Those who lost loved ones are, most certainly, still dealing with grief. The property damage approached $2.5 billion: 7,000 homes, 400 businesses, and 18,000 vehicles.
Please note: Natural disasters have claimed the lives of millions and millions of people over the years. The earthquake in Haiti killed close to a quarter‐million people in 2010. Weather kills… and sometimes in surprising numbers. In a statistic that certainly surprised me, according to the Centers for Disease Control, here in the United States 3,442 people died from exposure to extreme heat in the period from 1999 to 2003.
I am not addressing the loss of life in this series. We have only a limited amount of control over what happens to those we love. I recommend you check out the series I did in January of this year about “loving people at a distance.”
If you are grieving over the loss of a loved one from a natural disaster or for any other reason, I don't want to disrespect your grief with shallow encouragement. I do know however, getting back your joy starts in the presence of God; there is no other source. (See Psalm 34:18, Romans 8:35–39.)
Was God in some way responsible for this mess here in Joplin? From the accounts in the Bible, it appears God quit controlling the weather (as a means of bringing judgment against man) when Jesus was raised from the dead. Was it the devil? The devil will use anything to steal, kill, and destroy. Obviously, people had questions. My answer: “It was the weather.”
When Adam and Eve wanted the knowledge of both good and evil, they got more than they bargained for. Apparently the natural world had more trouble for us than just the thorns and thistles in Adam's fields (see Genesis 3:17–19). We now have not only thorns and thistles, but hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornados, and other elements of nature—all coming against us. But we have more control over nature than we realize.
If you are skeptical about the idea of Christians controlling the weather, I completely understand. And if you've suffered property damage from a storm, I'm certainly not suggesting you lack faith. I am suggesting however, that you try speaking to the next storm coming against you… and see what happens.
Probably three or four years ago, an early‐morning storm came through our area. Sherrel and I rolled out of bed and began running around the house asking God to protect our property. Almost immediately I heard God speak to my heart: “No… you speak to the storm!”
While it sounded crazy, we did it. We would run to the front of the house and tell the wind to stop (in Jesus' name); then we'd go to the back of the house and do the same thing. At one point I noticed the trees across the street were blowing like crazy, while the ones in our backyard weren't moving all that much.
The wind would pick up and we'd tell it to stop… it would pick up and we'd tell it to stop. This cycle continued for about thirty minutes.
When the storm was over I went outside to assess the damage. Every adjoining property either had trees blown over or split apart. We only had sticks, no bigger than my thumb, littering the yard. Every surrounding house had part of its roof blown off. Our house had no roof damage at all.
I know… sounds crazy. But it was no coincidence. And while we are as subject to the weather as anybody else, we are determined to exercise as much control over nature as we can.
Even if every storm that came against you (that you spoke against in Jesus' name) got through but one, wouldn't that one be worth the effort?
Tomorrow we will continue with Satan's attack on our joy.
Have a good day,