A friend of mine, a very talented and extremely dedicated and conscientious teacher, was recently challenged by an influential couple in the community where she teaches. They wanted their eight-year-old daughter, apparently quite spoiled at home, to be treated as the prima donna in her classroom as well. The father is a prominent lawyer and the mother is the president of the PTA, and they quite confidently know how to "throw their weight around." My friend, a sensitive and kindhearted woman, was naturally shaken and wounded by the harsh and unwarranted verbal assault from these proud and powerful people. She telephoned me and expressed her sense of not being able to "do this" teaching job.
Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic for forty-five years - ever since a diving accident when she was a teenager, has to face on a daily basis that she "can't do quadriplegia." However, she chooses to cry out to God, believing: "I can do all things through You as You strengthen me." She is personally deeply convinced that rather than try to hide our need from God and others, it is a better way to cast ourselves on the mercy of God "and let Him show up through our weakness - because that is what He promises to do." (II Corinthians 12:9). She wrote the following about those who feel they have it all figured out and therefore don't need God: "Maybe the really handicapped people are the ones who wake up in the morning, hit the alarm, take a quick shower, scarf down breakfast, give God a speedy tip-of-a-hat of a quiet time, and then zoom out the door on automatic cruise control. Like, 'I accepted you as my Savior, Jesus, way back when. I put my sins on the counter in exchange for an asbestos-lined soul. I've got this Christian thing figured out. I'll check in with You now and then, but I can pretty much do it on my own.' God says that if you live this way (proud), He's against you. The humble are the people who wake up in the morning knowing that they can't do this thing called life - without the divine help of the Savior (and they are the ones to whom God will give grace). That makes my disability such an advantage. I'm so blessed to have it force me into the arms of Christ every morning - because I know that my human inclination is not to go to the cross every morning, but rather to turn my head on the pillow, and pull the covers up, and not face the day."
So, it seems that, after all, Joni - and my friend (humbled by her recent experience, and more than ever feeling her need of God's support and strength in her weakness) - actually have an advantage over the proud and self-sufficient. The scriptures teach an important principle that we can often inadvertently miss as we look at the events of our lives and those of lives around us. That principle is that the last line of the story is not written yet. From our present day-to-day perspective, it may appear that the proud and arrogant prosper - that they get away with their insolent, disdainful ways and actions, and are "happy" - while the humble suffer and are trod upon (Malachi 3:15). However, wise Solomon of old concluded that "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit" (Ecclesiastes 7:8). Recognizing this truth, we can therefore choose to patiently and humbly wait on the all-seeing and all-wise Lord to "write the last chapter" of each person's life. There is Someone high above all that He created who is in control of all things, and it is written that to that One (who is the final authority) "the proud in heart is an abomination (is exceedingly offensive)" (Proverbs 16:5). There will surely come a day for every one of us when our "end" is clearly known. May I have determined long before then to have humbled myself beneath the mighty hand of God (I Peter 5:6), and be thus on the blessed side of His gracious favor. For in that day, the proud will assuredly be at an unmistakable and most terrible disadvantage!
"For there shall be a day of the Lord of hosts against all that is proud and haughty and against all that is lifted up, and it shall be brought low"; "I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease." (Isaiah 2:12;13:11) "Behold the day comes that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud and arrogant, yes, and all that do wickedly and are lawless, shall be stubble, and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 4:1).