Don’t Be a Whiner
And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:60
In medicine, when patients say their pain tolerance is quite high, this almost invariably means the exact opposite. Those patients usually have a very low pain tolerance and are simply trying to convince the provider that their pain is really bad.
Most of us tend to think that our experience is the worst ever. Most of us think we have a high tolerance for discomfort. I’m no different. I like to think I’m tough. I like to think I can handle any stressor, physical or emotional. I wrestled through college. I’ve run marathons. I go to the gym regularly. In the fast food drive through with a car full of people though, I absolutely fall apart. When asked to do more than my fair share of anything, I become a whiner. When confronted with the busy final hour at the end of a long day at work, I get irritable and start snapping at others.
I like to think I’m tough, but in reading today’s passage, I realize that I’m a child pretending to be a grown-up. In the story, the apostle Stephen was on trial for following Christ. He turned the tables on his accusers by pointing out that they were the ones who had crucified the son of God. Enraged, they dragged him out of town and stoned him. With his dying words, he didn’t curse those who beat him to death. Instead, he asked that God forgive them. Concerned more about the spiritual condition of his attackers than he was about his own life, he prayed for his killers. Stephen set the benchmark for being tough and handling stress well.
We may not ever face stoning, but we can still use Stephen as an example. We can look to his attitude as inspiration for our own. When stressed, or simply inconvenienced, do we think only about ourselves? Or do we think of God’s will and what’s good for those around us? Most of us – me included – are profoundly limited by our self-interest. How does this affect me? This isn’t fair. I deserve better!
Stephen died as he lived – serving God’s will instead of his own. I may not ever be martyred for my faith, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn to follow Christ and stop being a self-obsessed whiner.