Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.'
Rev. Susan Smith Guest Columnist
This week God has been showing me something about people and their struggles in life. In the Exodus ministry we see people from all walks of life trying to recover from addiction, incarceration, unhealthy relationships, mental illness, childhood abuse or neglect, divorce, broken families, financial disaster, and many other ways people are broken in life. It is easier to be around those who are doing well, and making good choices that lead to physical, economic, and spiritual progress. We compliment their growth and enjoy their company. We may even feel some satisfaction that our support and encouragement have helped them get on the right path and travel there. What they are doing makes sense to us because we see them coming out of the darkness into the marvelous light. We hope they will continue to heal but recovery is often not a straight line from brokenness to wholeness.
Sometimes people disappoint us when they lose their way and go back to old ways of thinking or acting that are destructive. We can feel frustrated with their crazy choices. Don’t they know better than that? Haven’t they had enough pain yet? Why are they going backwards again? We who feel we are doing better can be judgmental towards those who have not yet learned the lessons life is trying to teach them. We shake our heads in dismay as they do the same impulsive immature things they did before. Don’t they know that the definition of insanity is keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect something different to happen this time? It is so frustrating to see someone fall into the same traps time after time. It is hard to stand by and watch someone snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
The Bible tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God so we can’t point a finger as if we have never been outside of God’s will. As we grow spiritually, the Lord helps us make better choices, but everyone does not travel the path of righteousness at the same speed and we start at different places. In 12 step recovery programs we learn that we are all sick - and some are sicker than others. It may take some people longer than others to heal and be made whole.
This week as I shook my head in dismay at some of my brothers and sisters retreating back into the darkness after traveling in the light I was reminded that Jesus came for those who are sick, especially those who are sicker than others.
Mark 2:15-17 “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Let’s remember that those who seem to be making the worst choices in life are the ones who Jesus cares about the most. Be compassionate to people in their struggle as He would.