Think of a time that something bad or unfair happened to you that you didn’t deserve. How did you handle it? Did you keep a positive attitude and respond with hope and joy? Or did you throw your arms up, say a few choice words and play the victim? I can relate to Dwight Howard above. Throughout high school and college basketball, I would throw my arms up and run my mouth anytime the refs called something that I didn’t agree with. Sometimes I knew that I didn’t even touch the shooter, but the refs still called a foul.
If I couldn’t handle myself well over one bad call in a high school basketball game in northern Minnesota that nobody cared about, how could I possibly handle the unjust suffering that Peter describes in the New Testament? At the time, I didn’t realize how destructive complaining could be.
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for evil.” -1 Peter 3:13-16
When is the last time someone asked you “for a reason for the hope that is in you”? For me that answer is easy. Never. I’m afraid I’ve been too busy complaining during my hardships that I haven’t given anybody a reason to ask. Peter assumed that we were going to suffer unjustly. He also assumed that we would respond in such a hopeful and joyous way that it would force people to ask us what is going on.
People aren’t compelled by our hope as Peter assumed. Honestly, I wouldn’t be either if I were them. We don’t give anybody a reason to ask us about what makes us unique…so nobody does. As Francis Chan explains in Multiply, “Yet, we still feel the need to evangelize. So we end up coming across like salespeople peddling a product that didn’t really work for us.”
Part of God’s plan for spreading the gospel, was that people would be drawn to us and have to find out what it is that we have. That they couldn’t possibly understand where our hope and joy came from. But instead, we don’t even live out the very thing that we are trying to share and teach.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think venting to someone close to you can be healthy, in the right amount. But be careful how you handle yourself during these times. If you don’t have that hope and joy to focus and rely on, then you’re struggling to have an eternal mindset. When you suffer for righteousness’ sake, “you will be blessed“. Hold onto that.
I’ve done my fair share of complaining in this life. But lets start radiating hope and joy during our hardships. Lets pray for a compelling spirit. Lets give people a reason to ask us about our hope so that we can share the love of Christ. You may be the only ambassador of Christ that some people see. Are you giving people a reason to be attracted to the church and to Christ? Or are you giving people another reason to stay away from the love and hope that God offers?