In yesterday’s recharge, I mentioned the link between hearing and behavior: what we hear affects our behavior. If you think about it, most of the things you hear, and the subsequent behaviors, come from the people you hang around. Have you noticed how easy it is to worry around worried people? You might be innately courageous, but hearing their concerns and fears often makes you nervous. I guess the old adage is right: “The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate (whether good or bad)” (Anonymous).
Peter learned the hard way about the dangers of bad company. He was surrounded by those who wanted to crucify Jesus, and they influenced him. Though he knew and loved Jesus, he started acting just like them. When they associated him with Jesus, he lied, and even cursed, to prove he wasn’t. Peter was supposed to be a light, but he became a shadow. All of this could have been avoided if he had changed his surroundings.
Let’s not repeat Peter’s mistake. When your associates steer you toward doubt and fear, change your surroundings. Find some friends, full of faith, who will help steer you back on track.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25, New Living Translation).
Whoever coined the phrase, “Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me” must have been deaf. Words can have a tremendous impact on us, and last night’s episode of Good Times reinforced this for me. Robert, one of J.J.’s friends, got cut from his college’s basketball team and flunked out of school. Despite J.J.’s encouragement, Robert kept replaying those words in his mind. He became so discouraged that he tried to kill himself. Long after the experience ends, painful words remain etched in our memory.
How do you rebound when the words you’ve heard are the source of the hard knocks you’ve experienced? The woman with the issue of blood shows us clearly in the verses included above. Prior to these verses, she had been a victim of painful words: in her mind, she kept hearing, “You’ll never be healed.” But when she tuned to a different station, her life changed drastically. When she heard the good news about Jesus, she found the strength to turn her life around.
It may seem too simple to believe, but it’s true – if you change what you’re hearing, you can change your life. When life delivers a hard blow, dig deeper into the Word. Remember, “.. faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17, New Living Translation).
If you grew up watching cartoons, then I’m sure you remember the Warner Brothers series “The Roadrunner.” Each episode, Wile E. Coyote tried to catch the Roadrunner, but to no avail. Throughout the episode, he’d receive his share of hard knocks – falling off of cliffs, getting hit by vehicles, and even being captured by his own traps. He experienced such hardship that the cartoon could have easily been renamed “The Unfortunate Woes of Wile E.Coyote.” Every episode, however, Wile E. Coyote kept pursuing his dream, proving that you can make it through life’s hard knocks.
How do you keep pressing when victory seems unlikely? How do you remain optimistic when it seems like one bad thing happens after another? Job, the featured character in the verses cited above, had his share of hard knocks. He lost everything – family, finances, etc. – yet his attitude remained exemplary. How? He realized that his circumstances did not change God; therefore, he could “praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21, New Living Translation).
One way to make it through life’s hard knocks is to remember that God isn’t schizophrenic. Your circumstances might change, but God doesn’t. Just keep your hand in His, and like Job, He’ll bring you out!
“I am the Lord, and I do not change …” (Malachi 3:6, New Living Translation)