Before we get into this you should know that most of what I write comes from personal experience. Much of it has been learned the hard way. If I ever sound like I’ve got it all together 1) I don’t, and 2) you’re just seeing the other side of the struggle.
For example, last weekend sucked. I live in an old home and it feels like every project is a gazillion times harder than it should be. Simple fix? Think again.
Exhibit A: Repairing a leaky bathtub faucet.
Having already tried to fix it myself, having already called in a plumber who couldn’t fix it but still made me pay for the service call (won’t be using that company again), having grown sufficiently fed up with the wasted water and the constant dripping, I pulled the damn thing out.
And hence began three days of grumbling.
You swear under your breath sometimes, right? Oh, out loud? Me too.
- In order to remove the faucet fixture, I had to turn off the water to the entire house, but our home has an old shut off value that doesn’t work properly (yes, it’s on my list) so I had to leave the water running downstairs the entire time I worked on the tub upstairs so that everything was properly pressurized. Swear word one.
- When I finally managed to pull out the old cartridges, no one knew who made them or how to get me a working replacement. Not the big box. Not the little box. Not the online pro’s. As you can imagine, all of this took some time. I finally figured out they were made by an obscure company that doesn’t sell to stores and is closed on the weekends. Swear word two.
- Off to Lowe’s. I brought in my dismembered valve in a zip-lock. They had only option that could work, and it was generic. Whatever. We just needed something at this point. Babies gotta bathe, I’d like to shower, and I’m married to a woman. So I buy it. I get home. And I can’t remove the pipes. I Google it. I need to buy a pipe wrench. Back to Lowe’s. Swear word three.
- Pipe wrench purchased. But the new valve doesn’t fit properly. I need to go to Menards to buy a coupling. I take it in. They show me the parts. I get home. I got the wrong parts. Swear word four.
- Back in the car. I get the right stuff this time. I see the same cashier. I get home. It barely fits. More time. More improvisation. More tediousness. But I make it work. We test the shower. The pipe is leaking. Read that again. Swear word five. I go to bed.
- I do research. I find the right putty to stop the leak. I go get it. I’m so done with home improvement stores. I apply it. Leak fixed. Project complete.
As you might imagine, at no point along the way was I working joyfully as unto the Lord. No, this was war, and by the end of it I wanted to beat the crap out of my bathtub.
The next day I sat down and talked to God about the whole thing. And you know what he said?
“Stop whining and start winning.”
Of course he was right. So I wrote this:
Life is not easy. Life is hard. Easy is the exception and I’m not entitled to it. I live in a broken, sin-filled world. Eden is gone. Satan is active. Everything is decaying. Shit happens. People are selfish. The universe is not oriented around making my life easier.
So stop whining about how hard it is. Stop acting so surprised when things break, people are mean, stuff goes wrong, projects are hard, plans fail, it’s overly complicated, and life doesn’t go my way.
This is the world I was born into. This is the world God’s called me to live in and influence for his glory. This is my playing field. This is what I have to work with. I don’t get another one until God creates a new heaven and a new earth.
So make the most of it. Make the best of it. God didn’t give me talents so I could bury them. He gave me talents so I could invest them in an imperfect world. He knows it won’t be easy. He knows there will be obstacles. He knows it will be messy. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
When my hope is in my circumstances I’ll always be disappointed. But when my hope is in Christ I’ll never be disappointed.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
Through Christ in me, I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). He has already defeated sin and death so by living him him I share in his victory. Through Jesus I can live on top of life instead of underneath it. I am already a winner through Him.
It’s impossible to lose with God and impossible to win without him (John 15:5). With him I can subdue suffering and judo every difficulty that comes my way (Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2-4). Without him I just become bitter, angry, frustrated, entitled, shortsighted, unproductive, lazy, and start feeling sorry for myself. None of that behavior is becoming to who I am or who he is in me. And none of it’s useful. None of it moves the ball forward.
I can either whine or I can win, but I can’t do both. If I go to Nineveh and sulk it’s a loss. I’m called to be positive: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16
When I whine I represent God poorly, I refuse to let him to transform my struggles into growth, and I lose ground instead of gaining it.
So stop whining and start winning.
There you have it. This is how God teaches me. Perhaps there’s something in there for you too.