Imagine this: Michael Phelps wins his 18th gold medal. He stands on the podium, gets his medal, watches our flag be raised, but has is noticeably frustrated or annoyed. Then in the press conference the reporters ask him how he feels about winning yet another gold medal to which he responds in an outburst, “The whole race was unfair! The swimmer in the lanes next to me kept splashing me and running into my lane! Not to mention I’m pretty sure my touch pad was broken because I swear I got a faster time than it recorded. And another thing, was that water colder than usual? Seriously, I have goosebumps, how do they expect us to swim in these conditions!”
Ludicrous right? Who wants to hear the most decorated winner in the history of the Olympics complain about a race in which no one else in the world could finish before him. Take your medal. Wave to the camera. Move on. You don’t get to complain about being a victim when you keep coming out the winner.
In the past 30 minutes I’ve taken two significant blows to my near social and financial future. A new friend just found out him and his family are going to be moving to San Diego and the tire repair man said he can fix the problem I called about no problem, but he saw a problem I hadn’t called about that he can’t fix. Awesome. So stoked. Is today a Monday?! Why is this all happening to me?!?!
In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus calls us to something greater than just being nice to people who are mean to us. He calls us to love them. Not just in our minds but in our actions. When we are in a position to actually and literally love those who make life most difficult for us something amazing happens, we reject idea that I’m a powerless victim and respond with empowered love and grace.
A few thoughts: Often times we believe we are victimized by people as well as circumstances. Both can be our enemies. I can think of people who I would consider enemies because at my worst I feel like life would be easier without them. The same goes with circumstances. Also, there is a difference between acknowledging and processing the pain of being on the receiving end of hurt and living in the place where we feel hopeless or helpless to be a part of any fruitful life after that experience.
Let’s remember a few things. What was it that Jesus told his disciples about the hatred and hardships that are to face us in this world? “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Also, as children of God we are co-heirs with Christ. What then is our inheritance? Eternal life as sons and daughters in the Kingdom of God!
God has written a new story for those who have placed all their belief, faith, and lives in him. That story ends with Victory. Redemption. So next time I feel like I’m due a little pity party or feel like I am a helpless and hopeless victim of life, I’m going to picture Michael Phelps complaining about all his gold medals. How embarrassing he would feel at the end of his career looking back on that moment. I’m thankful that what I have in Christ is greater than 18 gold medals, and I really don’t want to be the guy who complains when I already have everything.