June 19 I Saturday
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” —Isaiah 55:8-9
Why do we feel the way we feel? The late Albert Ellis was a well-known psychologist and psychotherapist. He developed the Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy and came up with an acrostic called, “The ABC Model” to explain our emotions. A stands for “activating event,” where something happens to or around someone. B stands for “belief,” where there is a belief about the event. C stands for “consequence,” where the belief leads to a consequent emotion. Ellis explains it is not the activating event that causes the emotion, but what we believe about the event that causes the emotion. In other words, we cannot go straight from A to C.
For example, two men are caught in a rainstorm. One is mad and the other is glad; these are two completely contrasting emotions. We can ask the man who is mad, “Why are you mad?” and he answers, “Because it is raining.” Then, we ask the man who is glad, “Why are you glad?” and he answers, “Because it is raining.” They both blame the same event for a totally different emotion. Yet, Ellis says it is not the event that causes the emotion, but what one believes about the event. Of the two men, one is a golfer and the other is a gardener. The golfer is mad because the rain spoiled his game of golf, while the gardener is glad because the rain will make his plants grow. Hence, Ellis argues that the important thing is not the events that come into our life, but what we believe about them. This is not advocating for a kind of positive thinking about everything, we all have to be realistic. But in the events of our life, what is real that we can believe about this?
In Paul’s circumstances, he says, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” The event is the thorn in the flesh given to Paul by Satan, and Paul believes it was there to torment him. The consequent emotion of Paul is dissatisfaction and he prays for it to be taken away—this is the first time around. As Paul prays, God responds, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” The second time around, the activating event remains the same, but what Paul believes about the event changes, as God’s power is made perfect in his weakness. The consequent emotion of Paul is “I delight in weaknesses” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
From what Paul had learned, may we bring life’s struggles, difficulties and traumas to God, seeing these events through His lens, and knowing His grace is sufficient in our weakness.
Prayer: Precious God, thank You for Your all-sufficient grace in my weakness. Help me to see my life’s struggles, difficulties and traumas through Your eyes.