Christ never allowed Himself to fall into the “me” trap. He has always known how to avoid it, and He can lend us the inner wisdom to know how to do it, too.
One long-ago day I was busy mothering our three lively toddlers as my husband came home from work and said, “The Boss has told me he wants me to go to the States for a time and do some preaching and teaching.”
I was excited. “What an opportunity,” I enthused. “When are you going and for how long/”
I expected him to say, “In a month or so and for just a couple of weeks.” Instead he replied, “Next month and for twelve weeks.”
I stopped mopping up children and gazed at him dumbstruck. “What about me?” I wanted to cry out. “How can you go and leave me with three kids for so long? It isn’t fair.” I felt the “me” trap snap painfully over my heart, so tightly I could hardly breathe. The next few weeks I struggled to free myself from the self-pity and panic that was waiting for me as I woke up every morning. How could I escape? Who could change my feelings? As I turned to God’s Word, I read, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:15). I realized that God was not asking me to do this lonely thing primarily for my husband, but for Him! What’s more, it was for Him who died for me! Jesus left His family for the sake of my family. He knew all about loneliness. Now our family could do something for Him. And not only could I live for Him who died for me, I could live out this coming period of separation form Stuart in the power of the risen Christ, for as the apostle Paul had reminded me, “It was for Him who died and was raised again.” I knew there was no other way. That particular trial (which incidentally was followed by years of long separations) gave me space and time to be involved in all kinds of service!
How do we resist the temptation to eat the easy cheese that will catch us in the “me” trap? First of all, recognize that the devil is neither original nor creative. His devices do not change. The same old egocentric deceptions will appear throughout everyone’s short life. Let’s learn to recognize them.
Second, we should be on special alert when, in God’s will, trouble comes calling. These will be special moments when we are particularly susceptible to self-preservation above all other considerations. Try to welcome these “trials,” as James calls them, as friends rather than intruders. Remember that friends can make us strong and ready for anything.
Third, run to God often, and know what to do when you get there. Be familiar enough with Scripture so you know where help can be found in its pages. Learn to pray and try not to panic.
Finally, be super conscious that people are watching how you—a Christian—respond to trouble. Let them see you receive God’s comfort, and then let them watch you pass on that comfort to others in need. In other words, let them observe how sorrow leads you to service rather than to self-pity.
Christ never allowed Himself to fall into the “me” trap. He has always known how to avoid it, and He can lend us the inner wisdom to know how to do it, too. All we have to do is ask. For, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (Jas. 1:5).
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