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 Dress was Headline News and My Friend Died

So yesterday was something else.The Dress

It seems a huge amount of people were vehemently arguing over whether this dress was blue and black or white and gold.

It made headline news and drew scientific explanations as to why people were seeing different colors.

Oh, yeah – and my friend Bill died.

There’s no other way to describe him than to say he was grand. I met him when I moved to town almost four years ago. He was one of the most senior seniors in the church – a Veteran of World War II. His time in the Army was an immediate bond with this Army Reserve Chaplain and, even though he had been out for decades, the military never got out of him. He would salute me every time he saw me in uniform. He was incredibly active with our local chapter of the VFW honor guard, which meant he and I did several funerals together in uniform. One Memorial Day he was tasked with dropping a wreath in the local lake during the Memorial Day Celebration in honor of the fallen. He was a man of deep patriotism. Bill Nash

Bill was an avid carver and whittler. He was always working on projects and had who knows how many little pieces stashed away. He delighted in giving away various whittled creations. Over the years my family received several whittled Christmas Tree ornaments. He also made me a wall hanging of the cross and a cut-wood version of The Last Supper that I kept above my office door.

Though he didn’t play, Bill was an avid supporter of the church softball team. If the weather permitted and he knew about the game, he was always there. He brought bubblegum for the whole team – the Bazooka Joe gum that you can only chew for 90 seconds before it gets hard and you risk chipping a tooth.

Bill had hearing aids that had to be cranked up for him to hear, but he was faithfully in worship every week. Every once in a while Bill would comment about the volume but it wasn’t a complaint – just a comment. Drums and guitars didn’t seem to bother him. I remember one Sunday I preached a little longer than usual. That usually irks some people. As I was saying goodbye to people at the door, Bill came through the line. I apologized for running a little late and he said, “Sorry?! Why are you sorry?!” (most everything Bill said was sort of half-yelled, probably because of his hearing loss) I said, “Well, I know some people get upset about running late.”

Bill’s response: “So what?! Say what you gotta say!”

He was always encouraging and helpful – doing whatever he could to support every ministry of the church (yes, even the kids ministry!). My wife just talked with him a few days ago, and now he’s gone. My heart is heavy and the world is a worse place losing men like Bill.

But please, let’s keep going on and on arguing about a dress.

There are things in life that matter and things that really couldn’t be less important. People matter. Eternity matters. I’m reminded of the simple prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

We worship God.
We embrace His kingdom and His will.
We ask for His sustenance and provision.
We pursue reconciliation with others and with God.
We seek His continued help and deliverance.

That’s it! That’s the only prayer Jesus taught, but it shows us where our focus should be.

There is an eternal perspective that we are missing when we get caught up in ridiculous stories and arguments about colors of dresses. I don’t think Bill would have care one whit about the color of a dress. I KNOW Jesus wouldn’t have cared. Jesus had that long-range perspective – a focus on what really mattered.

The death of friends and family usually makes us take stock of our own lives. What matters? Who matters?

The Dress doesn’t matter to me. I can’t even bring myself to read through an entire article about it. Bill mattered.

Today my prayer is that we can shake ourselves free from the inane things that plague our every day and begin to live lives that matter.