In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

If we're entitled to only good, what do we do when tragedy strikes?

Recently I read a different take, by Donald Kopke, on the Genesis account of the fall in the garden of Eden.

Kopke's premise was that the reason Adam and Eve were happy before the fall of man in the garden, was because they'd accepted the "no". Every day they passed the tree of the fruit of good and evil, and every day they chose to accept the "no". Every day they chose to accept that they could not eat of the fruit, they lived in peace, happiness, and communion with God, one another, and the rest of creation. It was only when they chose to not accept the "no" that the problems began.

Kopke wasn't writing this as a theology lesson, but as a look at an approach to life that allows us to deal with loss, pain and suffering. If negative circumstances are considered a part of life, then finding ways to deal with them while still having hope for the future, and joy in the day, is possible. But if one is entitled to only good experiences, then frustration, anger, and blame result when tragedy occurs.

It's easy for me to see how our culture is one of entitlement. Every ad on TV shows you how perfect health, beauty, and indulgence is my "right"; and that if I'll just buy their product, I can enjoy those rights. "No", or the concept of not having something one wants, is not promoted.

But what's got me to thinking, is the question that came to my mind as to how have I bought into the entitlement lies?

I witnessed an example of my buy-in just recently. I've had some real financial challenges come my way, and I've caught myself starting to get short with those closest to me and to have a negative attitude. I had to take some time by myself to let God show me the source of this bad attitude on my part - and I found that it was because I was feeling resentful about the lack of money. On an unconscious level, because I've always been frugal, worked hard, and avoided debt, I felt entitled to never experiencing financial lack. Fortunately, when I realized what was going on, I was able to confess my sin to God, experience His forgiveness, and have the Holy Spirit's power to change my attitude. I can choose to live with a grateful heart for all the good He's given me, without concerns about having more, or what will be the status tomorrow.

This experience underscored for me how easy it is to buy into the lies of my culture without even realizing it.

What about you, do you find ways that you've bought into the entitlement lies in our culture?


Mike said...

I bought into the lie of entitlement that I would get LOTS of sex when I got married. Boy, was I wrong! hahaha

On a more serious note, I grew up under that belief system. When I converted to Reformed Theology about 6 years ago, I grew less and less interested in my "entitlements", realizing that I was only TRULY entitled to God's wrath as a sinner, but often benefit from His great many blessings!

It's been liberating to not be gripped by the lie of entitlement.

ML said...

St. Augustine in "City of God" says that the only difference between the pagan and the Christian is how we handle the challenges in our life.

One of my sons, certainly not St. Augustine, recently said that I live in a fantasy world where if you just believe and hope that things will turn out right. Right does not always mean the way you thought, just right. Nobody every said there were not going to be setbacks because the deveil comes to steal, kill and destroy. However, Hebrews 11 is all about people who walked in faith and hope of the promise, though they never saw the fulfillment, they never stopped believing. That's how I want to be.
I've heard a lot of messages recently about being taken out of our comfort zones - I'm living that. That's when walking the talk counts the most:)

Thanks for a thought-provoking post to get me thinking!

RCUBEs said...

I'll say I was more materialistic before accepting the Lord. That I felt I deserved those things because I worked hard. Not realizing that they didn't truly give me the happiness I was searching for. True happiness, especially joy, comes from knowing the Lord, weighing in and leaning more toward eternal values than what we have here. I see lots of my co-workers killing themselves at work, working way past their required hour to support their high lifestyle kind of living. So glad I'm not like that anymore. Thanks be to God.

ilovepink1078 said...

Well, I will not be surprised at the painful trial that may occur. As though, something strange was happing to us. But rejoice that we may participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Thanks for sharing... Hope to hear you soon.

Love and Prayer,

Deborah Ann said...

It's sort of frightening, but just as you noticed this one 'lie' you bought into, how many more are there? Not meaning you in this statement, meaning all of us. It's my own observation that when we start living in our own made-up beliefs, we find that we have been serving our own made-up God.

Tracy said...

Deborah - Laughed when I read this, I knew you were speaking in general principles. But you're right, we get off course. I'm so grateful that God always brings me back and continues to grow my knowledge, experience, and understanding of who He is.

ML & Pink - You're so right that painful stuff is part of life but that we are as those who have Hope. We do have that promise that God will work in all things, even the bad ones, to bring about our good.

Mike - I know what you mean - when I really think about it, all I deserve is the wrath of God. Instead I have His grace, love, forgiveness, and presence in my life. How can I even want for more?

Rcubes -we really do have a different take on life.

photogr said...

I am sure we all have bought into the entitlement of the good life from slick ad campaigns only to find it leaves us empty literaly.

Mine was the time of having to have the latest greatest camera or lens to take good picture when all that was needed was better skills at photography. That can be said with homes, cars, TVs, and other items.

We all live in a mterialistic society where by we are told we will feel better if we want more. Well I got out of that rat race when I retired. I still want but I also realize I don't need material things to find peace with God. I am thankful now with what I do have.

May said...

It is so easy to get off track when we are faced with diffuculties in our lives and became to pick up a negative attitude and be stressed. I am trying to remind myself that I am too blessed to be stressed. Blessings.

dsjohndrow said...

Entitlements? We are a culture of entitlements. Every parent wanting to give more to their children than they had - me included.

Celebrity worship and excess is everywhere. Marketing and credit is aimed at the very target of us "having more now." If we thought about it more deeply, we really don't need credit - or at least much of it. This is evidenced by folks saving to make gains from 2% to 15 or even 20%, yet they pay $22% + interest on credit cards. BTDT.

In marriage we are often taught that we will get, and feel great, yet biblical love is sacrificial and giving, not receiving. My wife thinks I am the sexiest when I have a full garbage can in my hands or I clear the snow off her car instead of having a second cup of coffee.

In church we are entitled to a platform show of music and flawless preaching and if we have a small group it is often a mini version of Sunday morning. We can just be spectators scoring the performance.

Loss, grief, anger - no one is immune. And if all we are is entitled, then we'll be disappointed. Excellent point.

The cost of following Jesus is giving it ALL to him. I confess; that would be hard with all that I have worked for in my life time.

Having traveled to places where poor means no house, no welfare, no entitlement programs, I feel certain, that when we are weak, and without even the so called basics, Jesus is there and abundant life is possible.

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