There is a look of exasperation that appears on your face as you become the recipient of the umpteenth act of misfortune. You know, you drag all the bags of shopping into the room and discover that you forgot the flour that you were told quite clearly you had to buy. It was a tough day anyway and the store was full and there was no car park space left and the queue was long and the person in front of you had to go and exchange their mango juice for orange juice and then discover they could get two for the price of one and so took their time getting it while their baby boy is whining away.
That look of frustration and exasperation and that slow turn to go and endure that whole rigmarole again just to get the flour says it all. If only life wasn’t like this. So understandably you buy yourself that drink or snack – that pick me up to treat yourself. It’s what you’ve done all the time under similarly tough circumstances. There’s nothing wrong with that, so you reason. As you slump in your comfy chair and enjoy the snack/drink, you take a deep sigh and breathe out all the frustration and munch/slurp away.
It’s a coping mechanism. It helps you deal with things and because it works, you keep doing it.
Sometimes in the routine of life, with little in the way of much to go by when there’s a nagging feeling in the gut about the point of it all, we reach for the coping mechanism. Maybe more work. Maybe a leisure activity. Sure some of us carry on with some things that we really shouldn’t, but as long as we can reason it out that it’s not hurting anyone else, then it helps us to cope and so we carry on.
Often, however, the things that help us to cope is a hindrance to real growth. It’s like a crutch that we become so dependent on that we don’t look to strengthen the injured leg to walk as we were supposed to. Rather the crutch becomes everything. Everything to help us so we don’t have to address the crippling condition in the first place. So that crutch has a crippling effect.
Some people refer to faith in Jesus as a crutch in itself. Some was to reaffirm that by saying that if jesus is a crutch, He’s the greatest crutch in the world. Growing in Christ, however, in as much as it is about wholly depending on Christ for everything is not about wallowing in the crippled state with him as the crutch. It’s about Him telling us to take up oour mat and walk and no longer needing any crutches anymore because life is not about just coping.
There is a difference between existing and living and Jesus came to set people free to live. That may involve social and economic factors. More often than not, though, it’s about a reconnection with God in Christ that fills every aspect of your identity. You’re now identified by Him, in Him and through Him. Now you become a part of the same mission He was a part of. That mission as a reason for living is fulfilling in itself the more you get to know who He is and the more the things of His heart burns in your heart, you realise that on the inside of you He has given you whatever you need not just to cope but to truly live.
I’m not stopping you having that chocolate bar when you have one of those days. I am encouraging you to see that life need not just be about coping. In Jesus there can be so much more to it than that.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden