Stop Whining

The conversation had an ironic twist. My friend was harshly critical of those who think they have troubles when their little frustrations in life are nothing compared to the major challenges that others face. She, on the other hand, considered herself in the latter group. Then she proceeded to tell me all her problems—all of which are of her own making and could be easily remedied if she chose to do so.

Of course, when any of us point at finger, there are always other fingers that point directly back to us. I know it's of small consolation to tell someone that things "could be worse" so I'll refrain from saying that to anyone but myself. Like everyone else, I sometimes give my challenges more weight than they actually deserve.

Everyone struggles. Whether those challenges are major battles or minor skirmishes is often a matter of perspective. But there is one struggle that often isn't included in our repertoire of daily battles.

"In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood" writes the author in Hebrews 12:4 NIV.

Some of the early believers took Paul very literally (1 Corinthians 9:27) and whipped themselves in an attempt to beat the sin out of their bodies. Others went even farther and practiced self-immolation in their battle against their sinful natures.

Such efforts are akin to treating the symptoms and ignoring the disease. The battle for the body begins in the mind.

I think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He struggled against sin—the sin of deviating from the Master Plan, of walking away from cross. In His battle, the Lord sweat what appeared to be drops of blood. I understand that under extreme stress it is possible to sweat actual blood. Jesus was struggling with His mind—the temptation to do what was physically, emotionally, and spiritually easier for Him at the expense of what He knew was the only hope for us.

It's true—I may never be called upon to make such a dramatic and painful choice as Jesus had to make in that garden. Perhaps that's the point of the statement. In its context, the verse is part of a reminder that our little "challenges," disciplines, troubles, are nothing compared to what the Lord had to face. He resisted sin in a way none of us will ever have to—and triumphed.

I can almost hear the writer saying: "Stop whining and making mountains out of speed bumps. Abandon your pity party." His words of counsel are strong but less abrasive: "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed" (12:12, 13).

Jesus resisted so that we could benefit. That should be my highest calling too.


  1. I needed this one today, because I have to admit I have been feeling a bit whiny, and truly for no good reason!


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