Chris: Your greatest weakness is your temper. Even if it is unfair and it sucks- reacting badly will only hurt you.

Reacting badly to situations will only hurt us. The character of Job in the Bible is a great example of how to react when things go terribly wrong. We will all be tested in our lives. How we react to those tests will show the character we have. In many ways like Job, Chris had a life filled with success, intelligence, handsome looks and great friends. Like Job, Chris’s life was then quickly assaulted and devastated on every angle. Chris was losing everything; all of his dreams. Only with a life built on God, did both Chris and Job endure.

We need to have a faith in God that endures through all the bad times, because bad times will come. We need to analyze our lives and make sure our foundation is in the Lord. When (not if) we go through these bad times, we need to know God is enough. Having a temper tantrum or reacting badly will not reflect the character of Christ.

God did not explain the reasons to Job why these bad things happened to him. To my knowledge, God never explained the reasons to Chris why bad things happened to him. Likewise, God never explained to us why this tragedy happened in our lives. Like Job, we need to remember God is all we really ever need. When everything was stripped away after Chris died, we recognized our faith in the Lord was really the only thing we ever had. We cannot get angry and demand God gives us the answers. We have God and that is enough. We do not deserve to know the details of His plans.

“Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak ; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42: 1-6

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Chris: Learn what makes someone mad and avoid it or try the things that help relieve it.

We need to consider the feelings of others above our own feelings. This is more than just being considerate of others, but a deeper understanding of their wants, needs and personalities. To do this, we need to learn more about them and get to know them on a personal level. We not only need to avoid the things that made them mad, but find ways to encourage them and comfort them. We need to learn what drives them to be happy and what we do that may upset them. We need to humble ourselves and learn more about them. We need to put their feelings above our own.

This Life Lesson also says to “try the things that help relieve it”. This involves even more effort on our part. We need to try to relieve their pain and anxiety for whatever is making them mad or upset. We should reach out to others in order to make them happy. We will now need to put forth the extra effort to try to console them and comfort them, just like the Lord comforts us in our grief and troubles.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” II Corinthians 1: 3-5

Chris: Waiting often hurts a lot and leaves you lost in the woods. I have no idea what to expect tomorrow, next week, next month, but I still have faith.

Waiting is often painful and leaves one wondering if God is out there. Is He listening and watching? Do we feel His presence? Does God even care? We need to remember the Lord is always there. We need to trust Him, even though we sometimes do not feel His presence. Even when all seems lost, we should never give up. We should always have faith the Lord has a plan for us. We may not know what the plan is, but we need to have faith He is always watching over us and has a plan for our lives.

Chris’s Life Lesson reminds us waiting is part of God’s plan. Like Chris, we have no idea what to expect in the future. And like this Life Lesson, we need to have faith He will show us what His plan is for our lives. We need to hope and put our trust in Him. But at the same time, we need to be diligent to look for opportunities to serve Him. We cannot sit around and just wait to let the Lord whisper something in our ears. Growing up on a small farm, I realized we needed to plow the fields and plant seeds before a harvest would come. In the same way, we need to be diligent in looking for opportunities to serve the Lord and preparing to serve Him. Then we can be patient and wait for Him to fulfill His promises. This is exactly what Chris did.

The word “wait” infers the sense of expecting. We need to wait on God and have a sense of expecting from Him. Isaiah 40:31 refers to those who were suffering a long and terrible captivity in Babylon. So it applies to those who were feeling weak, guilty and helpless. The verse says to put their trust in the Lord and wait for His help. We also should never give up and we should continue in our faith. Life will never be easy. It seemed like life was especially hard for Chris, but he “still had faith”.

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31

Chris: Don’t be a part of someone else getting hurt.

We need to give our time and money to reach out to help those in need. Giving “lip service” about caring for someone is easy. Caring for someone who you do not know is different and a true act of humility.

Every year our church has a Sunday morning where we do not worship at the church building. Instead, we go out in groups and help those in need. In 2012, our group helped a single mother by fixing up her home. She has a daughter with MS and an elderly father living with her. She is barely making ends meet. She did even not attend our church. On this Sunday morning, instead of us dressing up in our Sunday clothes and going to church to listen to a sermon and singing songs, two of us fixed the toilets in her home, while others repaired other parts of the home. We spent four hours lying on her bathroom floor (which she forgot to clean) replacing the gaskets on the toilet bowls. We think, in a small way, this was a demonstration of what it really means to humble ourselves and care for someone like Jesus would have wanted us to do. Our church calls this: “having people see Jesus with skin on”.

Jesus Christ was humble and He served others. He gave up His rights by coming to earth, living among us and then giving up his life as a ransom to save us. Like Christ, we need to demonstrate a servant’s attitude. We do not want to serve others so we can get something back from it. Instead, we want to serve others so they can see a servant’s heart and someone who really cares for them.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2: 3-5

Chris: Try not to judge others. You haven’t walked in their shoes.

Unfortunately, many of us find pleasure in finding faults in others. We seem to relish tearing others down. We need to remember how painful and hurt we feel when someone else is judging us unfairly. Instead of judging others, we need to examine our motives. The criticisms and weaknesses we find in others are likely the same faults we possess also. The same things we want to change in others are the things we need to change in ourselves. Before we start to criticize someone else, we need to first examine ourselves to see if our actions merit the same judgment. Then instead of judging, we need to show love and compassion to the person and forgive them if they have harmed us.

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. Matthew 7:1

Chris: Be kind to those who may seem different from you

The important things in life are not what you keep and store in your possessions, but what you give away. To reach people, we need to reach out to them. Chris did not have a lot of possessions, so he gave his time to those who were less fortunate. After his death, he was not remembered for the possessions he accumulated. Instead, he was remembered for the impact he had on people’s lives.

We often let our job or our possessions influence our perception about how important we believe we are. But one day each of us will likely retire from our work. And believe it or not, the company we worked for will go on just fine without us. Likely they will forget about us in just a few weeks. Therefore, we should not feel we are better than anyone else just because of our job status or education.

We are reminded we need to be kind to everyone, especially those who are different from us or have a different societal status. We need to remember in the Lord’s eyes, He loves and values each one of us the same. Being kind to people who are “different from” us can help us come to know them better and help us to be a witness of the love of Jesus.

When we face the truth, everyone is different. We are no better than anyone. We all have fallen short in our lives and deserve eternity apart from God. Only through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we can be forgiven and we can become a child of God. If we believe in Him, we have been given this privilege. For this reason, we need to reach out to everyone, especially those who are poor or less fortunate than we are. We need to know and remember it is the Lord who has blessed us. We cannot claim success on our own merit. In the Lord’s eyes, He loves us all the same and we are no better and no more important than the poorest of the poor.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

Chris: Stay in contact with those who helped you in your journey.

We all need to remember how important our friends can be. Friendship has so many facets. It means being there when your friends need you. It means looking for ways to encourage them and thinking of their needs before thinking of our own. It is so easy to be passive about keeping friendships and just let time and those friendships pass by. It is critical to maintain contact with our friends, even after we may have moved thousands of miles away. If we do not forth effort to maintain the relationships with our friends, they will soon become only friends we may send a Christmas card to once a year.

For great friendships to be maintained, we need to love our friends in a different way than seems normal in today’s society. We need to love our friends sacrificially. We may understand about sacrificial love for our immediate family, but sacrificial love for our friends may be a new concept for many of us. We learned a major part of sacrificial love is to never be selfish. This involves thinking and loving others more than thinking of ourselves. If we choose friends for only how they can benefit us, we will rarely benefit from having a true friend. We need to value the needs of our friends more than our own needs. This is the beginning of sacrificial love and having a true friend. The perfect model is how Jesus demonstrated sacrificial love through washing the feet of His disciples and then laying down His life for them and for us.

We have found our best friends are the ones who have accepted us for who we are. They can accept us for all our imperfections and weaknesses. Our true friends will understand we are not perfect and we will always make mistakes. For us to be a true friend, we need to be quick to ask forgiveness and ready to be forgiving to others. We need to stick to our friends like a brother and they need to feel they can trust us. We need to have close friends with whom we can be open and they can open their feelings to us. But we need to be cautious. Being totally open with casual friends can lead to ruin.

True friends will build each other up emotionally, physically and spiritually. If we can do this, we will feel good whenever we are around our friends. We will not only be able to receive strength and encouragement from our friends, but we can give back as well. We need friends so we can talk together, cry together and laugh together. And if we need to have those hard conversations for correcting our friends, the times of trust and love we built will carry us through it. You may be the one person who can change your friend’s heart.

Most of us have had difficult journeys. Hopefully, each of us has friends who stuck with us during those difficult times. We need to be loyal to those friends and remember them like they remembered us.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13