Books · Christian Living

Oh Bother!

Winnie-the-Pooh

 

Some Days We Are Like Pooh

Last week we thought about those days when we are like Tigger, when we are full of energy.

But what about those days when you feel like saying, with Pooh Bear, “Oh bother!”

Do you remember the story when Pooh Bear had been enjoying a smidgeon of honey and then went to visit Rabbit who might just have a smackeral more. Pooh pokes his head into Rabbit’s front door and gets himself very stuck. Pooh’s back half is inside Rabbit’s den while his front half is sticking out near the road. No amount of pushing or pulling can set him free. In the end, Pooh has to starve for a few days until he can loose enough weight to be set free.

That was an “Oh bother!” kind of day, for both Pooh (who was stuck) and for Rabbit (who had his front door blocked by an unwelcome visitor for several days).

We have some mornings when we wake up and we feel like we “got up on the wrong side of bed”. Nothing goes right. Try as we like, we are just plain stuck!

Maybe we wake up with the flu. Perhaps the kids are up first and now crying at your door — never a fun way to wake up. Maybe you had high hopes for your job review and instead you received discouraging news — or even lost your job.

A number of years ago I was happily driving to work at a doctors office adjacent to the local hospital. I had stopped at a red light and while looking left to make a right-on-red turn, I was rear-ended. So I checked in at work and they told me to visit the ER. I ended up with severe whiplash — not so much because of the speed of the impact, but because of the direction I was turned in during impact. After a number of hours, I returned to work for an hour or so, only to be called into the office and told I was fired. I know it was not because of the accident — the big boss was there and it had been planned already.

Can I just tell you…that was a very bad day! I held in my “Oh bother!” until I got to the car. Then I just wept!

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Photo by Milada Vigerova

We all have those days. They look different for each of us, but we all experience them.

Why?

Because of sin. We live in a broken, hurting, sinful world. And though we were made eternal beings, we dwell in bodies that are wasting away.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God told Eve that we women will have great pain.

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.

Genesis 3:16a

He told Adam that work will be difficult from now on. In the end, his body would return to mere dust.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Genesis 3:19

Sin, and the curse it brought on mankind, can make our lives pretty miserable. Now, though we are eternal beings, made in the image of God, our bodies are wasting away towards death.

The curse of sin takes a toll on our bodies physically. Some days it is just plain difficult to move. It takes effort to get out of bed in the morning, to stand up out of your chair and not have your hip or knees give way, to walk to the mailbox and back. It drains our bodies with debilitating diseases like cancer, adrenal fatigue, Multiple Sclerosis, and heart defects. Aging is difficult.

The curse of sin takes a toll on our bodies emotionally, too. Now, though we have God-given emotions, those good emotions are tainted with sinful thoughts and desires. We can become angry and sin, we can covet the good gift another received, we can cry and wallow in self-pity, we can hate our neighbor.

Oh how discouraging this life can be!

And yet, we are told that we must live holy lives, as God is holy, preparing our minds for action.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:13-16

In those “Oh bother!” days, we must…

  1. Prepare our minds for action.

    God knows our brokenness and gives us a way of escape. He instructs us to act — but before we act, we must prepare our minds. We need to be sober-minded. We must be heavenly-minded. When we fix our hope on the grace Jesus offers us, when we set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-4), then we will have a renewed mind.

  2. Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.

    “Our former ignorance” — that’s how we thought (or didn’t think) before we became a believer in Jesus Christ. We are told not to conform to our old, sinful way of thinking.

  3. Be holy in all your conduct.

    We must act and think in biblical ways. In order to know what those biblical ways are, we need to be reading the Bible! Also, we need to put ourselves in the midst of other believers who can spur us on to love and good deeds — we need to be in church regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25).

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Photo by Aaron Burden

A Cherished Example

I have a dear friend and mentor (who moved away, and I think she may be with Jesus now). This woman had a pacemaker. She had aching bones that didn’t want to cooperate at times. When she flew to see her kids in Colorado, she needed to be on oxygen while at that elevation.

June was there for me when my health began to plummet after my 3rd child was born nearly 7 years ago. She watched me struggle just to make it to church at times. Some days, I knew that she was struggling with her health and I would ask how she was doing. June always told me cheerfully, “Well, I can hurt at home or I can hurt in church. I might as well hurt at church.”

On June’s “Oh bother!” days, she prepared her mind. She knew the One who had saved her was the One always at her side. She looked forward to her glorified body. June chose not to conform to her former self where she might have complained or gotten angry or pouted that her body wasn’t the way it used to be. Instead, she acted in a holy way. She fed her soul through the word of God and encouragement of fellow believers, which reminded her to act in a holy way. In her pain, she blessed and encouraged me in mine!

When we have those “Oh bother!” days, we can still rejoice that God is doing a good work in us. We can still choose to bless others, even if we must figure out a new way of doing it. But most of all, we need to be in God’s word so we can renew our minds.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;

8
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;

Psalm 19:7-8

Who is your cherished example? Who models this holy living to you?

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