Do you ever feel that life has treated you unfairly? Do you wish you’d received a different set of life circumstances? That’s the feeling that Rick Warren talks about in a sermon entitled, “Winning with the Hand You’re Dealt.”*
Last time we saw that God judges us only for the oppoturnities and abilities He gave us. He doesn’t hold us to account for chances we never had.
Then we began a study of the five cards that, according to Rick Warren, we’ve been dealt.
1.The first, which we looked at last time, is My Chemistry; that is, my genes and hormones. Whatever your makeup, Warren suggests, you can become healthier.
2. “My Connections… My connections are my relationships in life…you are a product of your relationships,” writes Warren. He continues that “there are three problems with that. One…is we’re all imperfect. And since we’re all imperfect…we hurt each other….
“Second, sin disconnects us…from God…[a]nd…from each other….[H]ere’s the third problem with this card. The more disconnected I am, the more fearful I become….And if you grew up feeling disconnected, you have a hard time trusting other people….We crave intimacy. But we fear vulnerability which is the only way you get intimacy. We want one without the other….We crave acceptance, but we fear rejection. And that forms your identity” (Hope for Mental Health Saddlebadk Resources 2015, 6-8).
What to do about it? Warren suggests, “I can choose to deepen my relationships. I can learn some communication skills. I can build some new, healthy relationships and replace some bad, unhealthy relationships. I can…risk connecting.” (Winning, 12).
Specifically, Warren points to 1 John 4:18. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Warren continues, ‘Love has no fear because it’s not about me….Self-centredness walks in the room saying how do I look to everybody else? Love walks in the room going, who here needs my help? Who needs a word of encouragement?…Who…looks like they’re a little on the outside and uncomfortable and I could put themat ease?” (Winning, 13)
3. “My Circumstances…These are the things that happen to you…You are a product of the traumas and the troubles in your life…the suffering and the shame and the shock and the stress. Pain shapes your life” (Winning, 8).
What to do about it? It’s important to remember, as we think about the pain we’ve experienced in life, that Rick and Kay Warren are not ivory tower academics. They lost their young adult son to mental illness through suicide in 2013.
Warren suggests, “I can choose to trust God no matter what happens” (Winning, 15) and points to Romans 8:28. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. He continues, “It’s not all good but it can be worked into something good” (Winning, 15). God can take all the ugliness and pain of my life and build something beautiful out of it. A carpenter needs good construction materials in order to build a quality home. God, in contrast, can take the garbage of our lives and make something positive out of it.
He goes on. “I’m a product of my past. But I am not a prisoner of it. And I can be different” (Winning, 16).
More next time.