Friday, August 18, 2017

Attitude Adjustment

I enjoy living and working in Cambodia, but there can be stretches of time where the unique frustrations I encounter living here just start to get to me. I was experiencing a bit of that lately. As I took it to the Lord, it struck me that quite a few of the frustrations I have here are closely linked to the expectations that came from having grown up in a very privileged position compared to most of the world. I once heard a comedian talking about being on a flight where they announced that they had a new feature: in-flight wi-fi. Shortly after that they announced their apologies that the system wasn't working. The guy sitting next to him was all bent out of shape, suddenly feeling entitled to something he hadn't known existed 10 seconds before. If I'm honest, though, I can be a bit that way too. Sometimes I'm frustrated by inconveniences that interfere with my comfort or plans. Other times I'm frustrated by feeling helpless in the face of life and death situations faced by the people I've come here to serve, for which I know solutions exist, they just don't seem to be available here. Big or small, these frustrations get to me mainly because I've previously lived with the luxury of not having to deal with them. So, that brought to mind Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT):

"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminals death on a cross."

Dying on a cross to cover the penalty for our sins was the ultimate sacrifice and the culmination of what Jesus had come to accomplish, but, leading up to that, He gave up the privilege of His heavenly dwelling, which was free from the brokenness of this world, and willingly entered into our mess. He didn't immediately fix everything to make Himself comfortable. He didn't turn stones to bread when He was hungry. In the case of Lazarus, He didn't avoid the grief of having a dear friend die, because He knew the Father had another plan. He has great empathy for the challenges we face because He has experienced what it is like to give up His privilege and live with our limitations. Now, as His representatives, and in light of all He has done for us, we are called to take on His attitude. That means that, by His grace and through His empowering, I am called to check my sense of entitlement and expectation, remembering that the universe is in much more capable hands than mine, and be grateful for a Savior who has so compassionately led the way for me. I can live in the hope of 2 Corinthians 4:16:18 (NLT):

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."