Monday, 26 September 2011

What Comes Out When You Get Squeezed?

As part of our morning devotionals my wife and I were reading something written by Joni Eareckson Tada. She made a comment that I thought had a broader application.

She said, “I think that I am a very likeable individual. But when pain continues to squeeze me, it’s like squeezing a lemon! Out comes this sour attitude, this pessimistic anxiety, this fear of the future. That’s when I have to realize that these are things God desires to change in me.”

Joni was specifically referring to physical pain. But whether it is physical pain, or emotional pain, or just frustration it can still produce in us a sour attitude. We can feel as though we are lemons being squeezed. It is what comes out of us when we are being squeezed that differentiates us from Joni Eareckson.

This reminds me of Matthew 15:11 that says, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them but what comes out of their mouth that is what defiles them.” Jesus goes on to say, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

By combining the beautiful transparency of Joni with the wisdom of Jesus we can see that the pain or frustration can be likened to the food we eat. At times when I have tasted frustration, pain or stress I have responded by saying and/or doing things that would be not bring glory to God. What comes out of me at these times is a true reflection of my heart. However I have a choice. Like Joni I can use these difficult moments to ask myself “what would God have me learn as a result of this trial, how would He have me respond and what is He trying to show me about my heart?

Over the years I have learned that God never wastes pain, it can always serve a purpose, though at times His purpose may remain a mystery. If I get irritated at something someone says or does, I must ask myself why? Chances are that I need look no further than James 4:1-2 which tells me clearly that my irritations and frustrations are a result of me not getting my own way.

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