A few days ago, the thought came to me that I can have a woe is me outlook or a wow is Jesus outlook. I have that choice.
Woe is me
Jacob exemplifies the woe is me mindset. In Genesis 42 he looks at what’s going on in his life and family and says that “All these things have come against me.” He did not bring God into the picture. He did not see God’s sovereign hand in all that had transpired. He settles into “Woe is me.”
The woe is me mindset sees a sand trap next to every green, sees the glass as half empty, is waiting for the other shoe to drop, has eyes only the horizontal but not vertical. Keith
Green, one of my favorite Christian composer and singers (who passed away a number of years ago), had a line in one of his songs stating, “It’s so hard to see when my eyes are on me.” I have thought and prayed about that idea numerous times through the years.
Zig Zigler referred to it as “Stinking Thinking.” Woe is me thinkers let the past define them rather than simply describe them. The glorious Gospel of grace and my abiding relationship with Jesus (John 15) should define me, not my current circumstances or past history. If you are a leader, you’ve experienced that things don’t always go the way you’d like. People don’t always respond and react the way you’d like. It’s easy to fall into the “Woe is me” mindset and outlook.
Wow is Jesus
It’s a whole new ball game, life and journey when my focus is on “Wow is Jesus.” Paul Tripp wrote a book simply titled, “Awe.” He addresses the concept of living in awe of God. He says that, “We find a principle displayed in a myriad of biblical stories. In the heart of a sinner, awe of God is quickly replaced by awe of self. This is the great war of wars.”
When we keep our focus on ourselves, it can quickly lead to woe is me. I have concluded that many Christians as well as Christian leaders, have lost their sense of Awe of God. He has become too common place. When it’s all about us and not mostly about Him:
- We tend to focus on our insufficiency, not His sufficiency ( 2 Corinthians 3:5)
- We tend to focus on our finiteness, not His infiniteness
- We tend to focus on our weakness, not His power ( 2 Corinthians 12:9)
I have discovered and come to love the worship song, “Not I, but through Christ in me.” Here is one line that has given me a healthy view of “Awe” of God, “I labor on in weakness and rejoicing, for in my need his power is displayed.”
Hebrews 12:2 admonishes us to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Years ago, I did a word study on the word “looking” and it means to intentionally take our eyes off of one thing and deliberately turn them to and focus on something else. It’s a matter of turning away from woe is me to wow is Jesus!
I can almost hear some of you thinking, saying to yourself; easier said than done. Or, if you knew all the stuff that’s going on in my life, you would understand why I easily fall into the trap of thinking Woe is me, just as Jacob was thinking the same thing.
I struggle just as everyone else does to move from “Woe to Wow” and live more consistently in wow.
Here are three simple things that personally help me:
- Memorize passages of Scripture that focus on God’s power and authority. 1 Chronicles 29:11-3 is one of my favorites that I bask in regularly.
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O, our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!” (NLT)
2. Sing worship songs (both corporately, family and alone) which lift up the person, power and character of our beautiful Savior.
3. Make a list of all the attributes you can think of that describe the Lord and spend time thinking of these and thanking him.
Jesus, by your grace, help all of us to keep our eyes on you and continually be in “Awe” of you. “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” Deliver us from focusing too much on ourselves resulting in discouragement and defeat and not focusing enough on you. Move us, by your Holy Spirit, from woe to WOW. Amen!