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Have you ever seen someone in clothing several sizes too small? Fabric stretched to its limit and seams begging for mercy? It’s obvious the man or woman beneath the strained material believes themselves to be someone they definitely are not. They’re too big for their britches and everyone around them knows it.

Arrogance is just as unsightly. Pride poses in a gross exaggeration of self-image that cannot be concealed. Virtues of kindness, patience and self-control are hard-pressed to contain the puffed-up persona of one who is full of themselves.

Worst of all, a huge ego leaves no room for authentic relationship with God or man. Conceit cuts us off from the community we were created to enjoy.

Humility, on the other hand, connects broken yet hopeful people. It allows earnest, imperfect individuals to walk together in a covering of grace. Actually, nothing fits us better than a sincere recognition of our dignity and deficiency. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)

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Hardship isn’t funny.

But it’s a little funny that we tout God’s omniscience (He knows everything there is to know) in good times, then lament to Him the wreckage we’re enduring in hard times as if He might have missed something. Take heart, Daddy knows.

We expend enormous energy persuading God to change our circumstances, and so little pursuing the change our circumstances might yield in us.

If we truly are God’s “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10); a masterpiece crafted for the express purpose of declaring His glory and goodness, our circumstances are an essential part of our formation. To avoid them would be to miss an aspect of the grand artistry our Maker will one day put on display.

“What good is God if He doesn’t make our lives easier, more comfortable, less painful, more pleasurable, less unpredictable or more prosperous?” Great question if the best God can give us is an easy life.

But what if we need more than that? Far more.

What if our greatest affliction isn’t a lack of worldly extravagance? What if every human being takes his/her first breath as a spiritual orphan; fatherless and isolated from One whose image we all bear?

And what if our Creator, despite our dismal and defiant attempts at significance, security and satisfaction, sought us out and saved us from self-destruction? What if He graciously did for us what we could never do for ourselves, a costly rescue from a debt we could never repay?

And what if, through the sheer kindness of our Savior, we were given a seat at the Father’s table? What if we gained unhindered access to intimacy this world will never know in its ravenous quest for connection?

I suspect the world’s offerings would lose their luster. Our opinion of those who “gain the world and lose their soul” (Mark 8:36) would shift from envy to compassion. The prevailing posture of our heart would shift from discontent to gratitude and peace.

Apart from love (which we’re all called to display), what better adorns a king, a president, a CEO, a pastor or a parent in their unique leadership role than wisdom?

Some might say charisma, decisiveness, eloquence, benevolence; all of which are good and necessary. But what informs and activates those qualities more fruitfully than wisdom?

And what is the substance of wisdom than the fear of the Lord? (Proverbs 1:7; 15:33) And what is the fear of the Lord but humble submission to the One who ultimately places individuals in position of authority? (Romans 13:1; Proverbs 8:12-16) The best leaders are model followers.

Power that is given to any is granted for the good of the many. Those who have it would do well to plead with the Giver to enable them to gracefully exercise it in such a way that even the least of these are blessed.

I have no concrete reason to wonder; no point in the past I can point to as evidence for my suspicion. Still, the thought of abandonment pops into my heart and head.

People do it all the time … check out, walk out, give up, move on, disown, discard, divorce. It’s hard to shake the idea that God will eventually get fed up with me, my flaws and my failures.

I would grow hopeless were it not for the gospel; good news that God’s love for us isn’t a reward for acceptable performance, but rather an unconditional gift to meet our greatest need (Ephesians 2:8-9). God obligated Himself to redeem and restore wholly apart from our behavior (Romans 5:8).

God made a promise that silences my suspicion. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Though His word would be enough, He went so far as to forsake His only Son on our behalf as an irrevocable assurance of his steadfast love.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21–23)

I don’t know of anyone who prays for God to hurry up with whatever is next while in a moment of prosperity, security, and/or significance. Our instinct is to savor those seasons. We might even go so far as to ask God to hold off on what’s next, kind of like giving a butler the day off, especially if what’s next diminishes the now we’re enjoying.

But God is no butler. He is a Master Craftsman busily completing a good work in each of us (Philippians 1:6). So devoted to our re-formation, He uses each and every moment to cultivate good in our character which will outlast any and every circumstance from which it was born (Romans 8:28-29).

I remember many times in days gone by wishing God would speed things up. In hindsight, I’ve found God’s timing to be flawless. Having to wait has never proven to be unfruitful in terms of my personal growth. I still instinctively pray for swift action on God’s part, but those requests are more often joined by a desire for contentment on my part.

What does it cost to be liked by all? It’s probably more than I’ll ever have.

And even if I could afford it, paying for popularity makes the wealthiest among us seem “cheap.”

It turns out, people pleasing costs far more than fees and favors. At some point, it requires us to betray our conscience, deal away our dignity, and sell out our soulful convictions.

Loyal love for God will put us at odds with some, maybe many. Submission to His will and ways can’t help but offend and provoke hostility in the hearts of God-haters. It isn’t our intent, but rather the outcome of light shining in darkness.

May our zeal for God and His redemptive mission never be surpassed by a need for human acceptance or approval.