Bouncing Back From Difficulties: Useless & Worthless People

Today ends our final segment of bouncing back from difficult times. Because they WILL come, and we don’t want to be people who break – we want to be people who bounce.

It’s about being spiritually anchored so that we may weather any storm. We won’t break – we can bounce back. We’ve talked about refusing to see obstacles as unbeatable. We’ve talked about rejecting hopelessness and holding on to hope. Then we discussed embracing change instead of fearing it. Last time we talked about being intentional about living in community and allowing our connection to others to help us bounce back.

UselessWe wrap up today talking about recognizing the value that you have – about seeing the worth and meaning in your life. When it comes to our ability to bounce back or break in difficult times, less is more. What I mean is this: feeling useless, worthless, meaningless is a fast-track to breaking.

Useless — feeling that you contribute nothing to anyone and are only a burden (even if those people protest the opposite)

Worthless —  one of the key reasons for people to exist is have a deep sense of personal worth

Meaningless — when one has no purpose

  • The Imago Dei

Finding use, worth, and meaning begins with the proper theological understanding of the place of humanity. In theological circles we talk about the Imago Dei – the image of God imprinted on all humanity.

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

With the image of God on you, your value stems NOT from anything you bring to the table. It’s about God’s work in your life. This is your source of value. That means…

  • You’re a Corvette, Not a Pinto

The Apostle Paul talks about it in terms of purchase price.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

There is no higher price anyone can pay than life itself. And if this is the purchase price for you, you’ve got to ask yourself if you are living up to your purchase price! Are you living like a Corvette or do you look in the mirror and see a Pinto? This is the very message Jesus is trying to tell us.

  • Jesus Says, Human Life Has Intrinsic Value!

Matthew 6:26 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

While all life is important, there is no other creature that is made in the image of God (see point 1 above). The Imago Dei, God’s thumbprint on humanity, sets us apart from all other life on earth. We are special to God.

You are special to God.

God redeems people that the world spurns. A great example of this is Onesimus, a runaway slave who encountered the Apostle Paul and became a Christian. Paul wrote back to Onesimus’s owner and talked about the difference Christ makes in life.

It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. (Philemon 9-12)

Or how about Moses, a murderer with a speech impediment that God used to save a nation? Or how about Jesus, the bastard child of a teen mother who brought salvation to the world? A Christian singer/songwriter wrote years ago:

God uses improbable people for impossible tasks.

Because God doesn’t put value on us the way the world does. When the world looks down on people, God lifts us up. When the world says, “Useless,” God says, “Useful.” When people say, “Good for nothing,” God says, “I’ve got a purpose and meaning for you.”

When therapists and counselors worked on these underlying “less” issues, they saw a dramatic turnaround in suicidal ideations. Feeling useless, worthless, and meaningless leaves people with the belief that there’s nothing worth sticking around for. Helping them find use, worth, and meaning radically alters one’s outlook. Suffering they couldn’t deal with became pain they could.

Less might be more to the world, but our “less” has never mattered to God. He IS our more.

I won’t quit. I have impact. Pain isn’t permanent. I will not break.

 

 

The Bible Says, “No Life Hacks!”

Have you ever heard of life hacks? They are simple things that you might never have considered that seek to make life easier. For example:

Hack 2

C’mon, now. This one is pure genius! No more wasted Nutella!

 

 

Here’s another one:Hack

If you’re like me then you’ll accidentally have sucked up plenty of small things while vacuuming the floor: Legos, jewelry, paperclips, you name it. This simple lifehack can help you.

Get the idea?

Shortcuts for making life easier. But sometimes we aren’t meant to take shortcuts in life. Take the ancient Israelites, for example.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 

And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. (Exodus 13:17-22)

 

Here are two things we can learn from this:

1. The fastest way is not always the best way or God’s way.

There was a way Israel COULD have taken but God led them a different way – a longer way: The human tendency is to believe that being forced to go the long way through something means that God is not present or that God is punishing us. But here is an example of God Burger King Lifetaking people the long way around FOR THEIR OWN GOOD! In our personal lives sometimes we feel like we need a shortcut to get where we want to go and we get frustrated when we’re forced to go the long way. Maybe we’re waiting for a job. Maybe we’re waiting for an apology. Whatever the area of life, we like to have it our way. We want the Burger King life.  God isn’t a fast food employee. Sometimes His way is slower than the way we want. Do we have the faith to trust Him when we don’t get the shortcut we want?

2. The slow way may be preparing us for the battles to come.

If the Israelites had seen war too soon they would have turned back to Egypt. There is an interesting concept here, and that is that the human element makes a difference in God’s possibilities: we can go along with His plan or we can go against Him. This is not to deny God’s sovereignty – this is simply saying that we have the ability as free agents to walk away from the good plans God has for us. Even Jesus was limited by human rejection when he went to minister in his hometown. Because of the lack of faith he was only able to do a few healings. Was his power limited? I don’t think so. I think that humanity has the choice to embrace what God is doing or to walk away.

The Israelites left Egypt equipped for future battles, but God was holding it back until they were ready. Our detours and long way around might seem frustrating when we want to get there NOW, but we have to trust that God is using this time to prepare us. Just because you’re being delayed does NOT mean God has abandoned you. Notice that God is present with Israel day and night (cloud and fire). Even today we have his assurance that He is with us. His presence has not departed just because we’re taking the long road.

So here we are. Whatever desert you’re going through, whatever delays you’re facing, know that God is still walking beside you. Perhaps this time is being used for your own good and you simply can’t see it yet. Persevere. Hang in there. One day you’ll get to where God is moving you to go. In the meantime, walk in faith following His lead.

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