When was the last time that you received a raw deal? For some of you, it was when a mate walked out on you. For others, it was when a trusted business partner betrayed you. Or for others, it was when someone at your workplace got promoted instead of you, even though they were lying and you were doing it God’s way. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar?
I remember one time when I felt like I got a raw deal. I was a 20-year-old college student and a fairly new Christian. Weeks earlier, I made the biggest decision to completely surrender my life to God. After that I thought my life was going to get better, but instead, it only seemed to get worse.
During that time, I had been dating a girl for a two years and decided to do it God’s way by keeping our relationship pure. I thought she was going to be my wife, until I realized our lives were going in two different directions. So we broke up. Three months later, I found out that she was going out with a guy from my basketball team. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. This guy was the same arrogant and proud guy who made fun of me in the locker room all the time for being a Christian.
I felt so hurt and so wronged, and I had the strongest feelings of anger toward God. I couldn’t understand why I got such a raw deal when I was being obedient and following God. I remember yelling on my way back to my dorm room, “God, if you don’t speak to me clearly about this, then I’m checking out of this Christian life forever!’
That night, as I read my Bible I felt like God was speaking directly to me. Up until that point, I had no understanding that the God of the universe could move through the Holy Spirit to make His Word come alive to me and so specifically. Then I read Psalm 73 and I got goose bumps.
Here’s what I learned about how God wants us to respond to the raw deals in this life:
First, pour out your heart to God. Even godly people struggle with doubts and confusion when God’s truth and their experiences don’t mesh. You’re not more godly if you hold in all of your anger and hurt. Let God be your counselor!
Psalm 73:2-14 describes a man pouring out his heart about the injustices he is facing:
This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. (v. 12-14)
Second, carefully consider your choices and the implications of your actions. (v. 15-17) When I experience injustice, I’m tempted to act in ways that are harmful to others and myself. When I was 20, I almost threw away my faith out of my anger. But no injustice is worth ruining your relationship with God. And it isn’t worth throwing away your relationships with other Christians either.
Third, get the big picture. (v. 17) When we can see life from an eternal perspective, we then begin to realize what’s important and what is not. This only happens when we get into the Bible and get around God’s people. It also happens when we spend time with God and focus on His character. God is good, sovereign and faithful. He always wants to turn our bad stuff around and use it for our good.
Finally, reaffirm your relationship with God. God’s presence is our only sheer source of security and joy, both now and forever. There are a lot of good things in this life, but none have the power to be consistent day in and day out and always come through for us. The moment we trust in them, they become an idol. Instead, turn your raw deal over to God, remembering that God’s justice is perfect and He will hold people accountable for their actions.
Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. (v. 27-28)
This week, we’re beginning the series, Finding God When You Need Him the Most. In it, we’ll discover how we can meet God in our most difficult moments. We’ll learn how to move from knowing about God to really experiencing His presence and power in our lives. My prayer is that regardless of the difficulty we’re going through – a crisis, depression, or injustice – during this series, we’ll be reminded of God’s faithfulness and ever-present help in our lives.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip