A Greater Reward

I am a seasoned expert at pouting.  I know how to do it in every form.  There’s the “hissy fit” that comes with a high-pitched voice and some excellent foot-stomping.  There’s the “heavy sigh” that usually includes a good eye roll.  There’s the “fat lip” followed by slumping shoulders.  I’ve even mastered the “fake happy” where I slap on a cute smile and bounce around like it doesn’t matter.  No one falls for any of it, of course.

My latest pouting session came about because I’ve been feeling slighted.  It’s due to entitlement, there’s no denying it.  But knowing that doesn’t seem to keep my bottom lip in its rightful place.  If there’s anything all these years of pouting have taught me, it’s that pouting in itself produces no lasting results.  So I’m off to find a good perspective change instead.

First up?  Defining the issue.  What am I feeling entitled to?  A reward.  Something good.  Good news, good fortune, good anything.  I’ve had a slew of bad news.  I’ve made a series of tough choices.  I’ve tried my best to stay strong, to trust, to pray, to believe.  I thought I understood that there will be suffering, but it will be worth it.  So where is my reward for my efforts?  I want to see a direct good result right away.  But instead of seeing good coming to me as a result of my good actions, I am only seeing loved ones hurt by my choices, a looming lawsuit, and terrible disease.  I want to stomp my foot!  Well.  At least it’s been defined.

Next up?  Gaining wisdom.  I tackled this one through the tried and true practice of prayer followed by God’s Word.  I don’t want to childishly expect a reward for doing the right thing.  So I asked Him to help me understand why I was struggling with this.  Then I picked up my Bible, this time through my First5 App, and He answered me clearly.  Lysa TerKeurst was doing a study on Genesis 50, and she said the words God wanted me to hear.

“All too often I struggle to see the good in situations unless the good applies directly to me…but greater good can come from circumstances that don’t appear good at first glance.”         ~Lysa TerKeurst (paraphrased)

God was leaping out of that app directly into my heart!  Through the example of Joseph in Genesis (chapters 37-50), who had been through a lifetime of making the right choices while seeing continued punishments without direct reward, He was teaching me that He has a greater plan.  That it’s not all about me and what I want right now.   That what I’m busy perceiving as a bad result, God is busy turning into something good for His people.

You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened.                       ~Genesis 50:20

Wisdom from God brings such a rush of relief, even when it points right to my selfish flaws!

Finally?  Letting go.  God has shown me over and over again that He has this under control.  I’m learning that if I still want an immediate reward, I’m still trying to control it on some level.  I’m trying to follow some set of rules and expectations instead of truly following Him. (I’ll do this, but only if I get that.  Now.)   I’m still holding on to my plan, however “good” it may be, instead of accepting His plan.  I need to completely turn it over to Him and completely trust in His results, even if I can’t see them all right now.

The lesson I learned from Joseph’s story is that the purpose of the hardships I endure may not be to directly bring good to myself, but to create a wider path for God’s purpose.  I often feel slighted when I can’t see the reward, and then I miss the fact that the result is even bigger and better than whatever I had asked for.  Don’t I want to be a part of that?  Don’t I want to trade feeling let-down for feeling like I’m part of something amazing?  God offers to exchange my tiny human requests for supernatural awesomeness, and all I have to do is humble myself to see it.

I pray for the wisdom to stop looking for the small, direct response to my own little world, because God is infinitely more powerful than that.   I pray for eyes to see His bigger picture, so I can stop feeling sorry for what I didn’t get and start praising Him for how He used my circumstances for others instead.   That He would even notice me and choose to use me is a blessing in itself.  I pray that every time my foot wants to stomp, my lungs want to sigh, my eyes want to roll, and my lip wants to pout, it will be a reminder to stop and pray for whomever my situation is meant to help.

mariah beach verse

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