Coping: It's Better God's Way
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1, KJV)
As people of God, we have a standard to live up to. But, as tragedy strikes, and it seems that all of your weaknesses are exploited at once, are you coping with your problems God’s way? Today, I want to address a question that the Lord spoke into my Spirit during a Bible study; He said, “James, are you using your coping mechanisms to mask your spiritual insecurity?” When I heard this, I immediately knew that He wanted me to address this question in my first devotion, but it looks like it may take more than one week to unpack this as God continues to speak.
It’s important to remember that God never asks a question to find something out, it’s for our own understanding and growth. He has a massive love for us that exists outside of our understanding, and being asked this question by Him exposed an area of weakness in me. It pushed me to ask myself: How am I dealing with bad things that happen in my life? Jesus says that He is the strength in our
weakness: Am I letting him do that? Am I letting him be that? At this point in my thought process I could almost chuckle out loud.
Being more Christ-like is the goal of every Christian. And when God asks me such introspective questions, they always snowball into more thought provoking questions. They make me reflect on Him, revealing areas where I have fallen short. In small moments of introspection throughout each day, I saw a part of His love helping me to manage my self-doubt. This humbled me, knowing that He put His hand on me, making me more Christ-like and helping to manage my sin; the one thing that He has no part of. And in this pursuit to be more Christ-like, I saw how He wants to show me the right ways to cope.
So as I sought The Lord further, and as the days passed, He slowly revealed certain details to me about coping mechanisms; and I began to reflect. I asked myself, “When something crazy happens, what do people usually do? How do they react? How do I fit into all of this? GOD, HELP ME OUT?!”
Then it came to me– the fight or flight response. However, the simple concept we all learn in middle school wasn’t complete at the time. A few months ago, I had to take a crisis management class for my job, and they revealed that this classic response has a third portion. In reality, all biological organisms have fight, flight, or freeze reactions. This blew my mind, and I thought to myself why we, as Christians, avoid trusting in God, and try to handle situations on our own with this natural response. I mean, how could it be a sin to react by our own instinct? Nevertheless, our reactions can easily become sin if we don’t let God show us how to properly cope.
Each of the responses have many faces, but we react to everything in our lives through these three choices. Sometimes, more often than not, we get in the way of Jesus’ way through our problems. But if we give Him control, we find that we can come out on the other side stronger, more patient, and with perseverance. Therefore, we need to guard our own hearts, lest we fall.
In order to guard our hearts effectively, we have to examine ourselves. When we approach obstacles or when obstacles approach us, we have the option to react by our nature, or by God's Spirit and plan. This is the insight we get in Romans 8:4-7:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (KJV)
I know that’s a lot, but here’s what it means: In response to anything in our life, we can be carnally minded or spiritually minded about it. There is no in between or gray area. What we fail to realize is that God has ways to cope with what we go through.
Every morning when we wake up, let’s remember to seek Him first. Ask Him to give you the patience and wisdom throughout the day and in all that comes your way. Pray to respond in ways that would please God. And whether your problems be large or small, remember that your carnal reactions are what become poison to the effect of God in us, and that the spiritual reactions are what bring peace and healing to our lives so that He can work through us.
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