Recently, my pastor did a series on suffering as we read through Job. He made an observation that I hadn’t considered before. He said that it was only when Job humbled himself that God began to heal him and give him back what was taken from him. This week, upon reading about Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles, the following scripture jumped out at me.
“Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the LORD’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah.”
Again, it was only when he humbled himself that things changed. In Rehoboam’s case, the Lord’s anger turned from him. In the case of Job, the Lord began to give him back what he lost.
If you have ever had a suffering that went on for a long time, you might have wondered why or when it will end. You may have felt God didn’t answer you or that God was waiting for something, but you weren’t sure what. It occurred to me that, perhaps, God is waiting for us to humble ourselves.
So what, then, does it mean to humble yourself? What communication is God waiting for? Here’s what I found when I looked up the word. According to Dictionary.com, humble means:
1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.
2. Showing deferential or submissive respect: a humble apology.
3. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly: a humble cottage.
It can also mean:
1. To curtail or destroy the pride of; humiliate.
2. To cause to be meek or modest in spirit.
3. To give a lower condition or station to; abase.
However, I don’t think most people who have suffered or struggled with something for a long time feel they are arrogant. Most probably feel as if their suffering has humbled them enough already. Often meekness and feelings of worthlessness follow suffering because suffering is often accompanied by a feeling of embarrassment or shame. So what does God mean when He said that Job and Rehoboam humbled themselves?
I did a little research and found several articles that offered a host of attributes of humbleness including, being willing to admit mistakes, being the first one to apologize for an argument, admitting limitations and needs, evaluating yourself honestly, recognizing your own faults and letting go and letting God take over. I think most people who have been through a long struggle or suffering get to a point where this is not a conscious decision because they come to a point in their struggle where they know there isn’t anything else they can do. They know their only hope is in the Lord.
I dug a little deeper and found that some other suggestions for becoming humble included looking for the best in people, learning new things, getting involved in new ventures, and giving to others. While I think these are also wonderful ideas which will help a long-suffering person, I found two other ideas that I felt were key.
The two things that stood out for me were serving others and giving God the credit. What happens to many of us who have been suffering with something a long time is that we become jaded and depressed. In other words, you focus on the bad things and you turn inward. You blame others and credit yourself with any strides made. This can come from pride. What helps is when we focus on others and give God all the credit because we begin to see the good things and let go of the bad as we allow God to take over. Here’s what I mean.
We may not feel like serving others, but if we begin to take small steps to support and serve those around us, we begin to see that others also struggle with things. Often, we will notice that some of the others around us are struggling with much more than we are. If they can maintain a joyous attitude, we begin to expect that we can as well. The more we allow ourselves to see the difficulties in the lives of those around us, the more we see the blessings in our own lives. The more we see the blessings in our lives, the more we are willing to thank God for those blessings.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” -1 Peter 5:6
If we are unwilling to help, support and serve others because of the hurt in our own lives, the less likely we are to find the joy and blessings in our lives and the more difficult it will be to give God the credit for those blessings we have enjoyed. So, the less we give (service to others and credit to God) the less we have. Conversely, the more we give (service to others and credit to God), the more we have.
How exactly do we do this? How do we begin to accept the good we see and build on that so that we can allow God to take over? It requires a change in our language, the language of humbleness, which is the topic of my next article.
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