In every life, bad things will happen. You might have a bad moment, a bad day, a bad week, or a bad year. Not every bad thing that happens to you will be of your own doing (but let’s be honest, we bring a few bad things on ourselves). We will face circumstances beyond our control. Accidents. Mean-spirited people. Bad things will happen.
That bad things will happen is beside the point. Bad things have always happened. In theological terms, we live in a fallen world. Sin has been defeated but not eradicated. The effects of our sinful behavior are obvious (just see Paul’s list in Galatians 5).
But here’s something I’ve noticed: bad things happen to all people but not all people live with a victim’s mentality.
Did bad things happen to the apostle Paul? Well, that depends on how you define being shipwrecked, beaten, and thrown in prison. I would say a few bad things happened to Paul. Even so, listen to his attitude:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed …” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Paul decided to not be a perpetual victim.
People grow weary of perpetual victims. God himself grows weary of the perpetual victim. At some point, spiritual maturity calls us to accept responsibility for our actions and our attitudes. I may not be able to control everything that happens to me, but I can control my response to those things — both good and bad.
The person who chooses to remain a victim is choosing to remain immature. At the root of the victim’s mentality is selfishness. “I deserve to be noticed.” “I deserve to be treated differently.” “I am not appreciated.” Me, me, me. That gets old pretty fast.
This is not to say that it won’t sting when a bad thing happens. In fact, sometimes it bleeds. But at some point, I must choose how to move forward. Will I move forward in a positive way, allowing God to use this experience to shape my faith? Or, will I move forward with shackles around my ankles, choosing to be burdened by what has happened?
I hope you will move forward with God.