by Tad Lindley
“My cousin can ride bikes better than me,” the boy said, “he’s from Nome,” as if riding bikes depended on the size of the community a person lives in. The youngster rode off across the village popping wheelies on his bicycle, leaving me to ponder his statement.
Now you and I both know that there is nothing about living in Nome that would cause a person to be a better bike rider. True, his cousin may have been able to pop better wheelies, but it had nothing to do with circumstances. We see the ridiculousness of the boy’s thinking, and yet many of us live in the same sort of mindset: we are satisfied to think that we are perpetually victimized by circumstances beyond our control.
What’s your excuse?
We tell ourselves that we drink, because we had bad parents; that we cannot get a job, because we have the wrong last name or the wrong skin color; that we cannot be happy as long as we live in Anchorage. Husbands we tell our wives that we lose our temper because of their nagging. Wives you’d be happy if only your husband wasn’t so lazy. Teenage reader you’d be able to go somewhere in life if only your parents let you live your life the way that you want to.
You can go ahead with your poor victimized self if you want to, but I am going to encourage myself in the Lord. You see, I read in my Bible about a scrawny kid from a small village in Palestine who rose up to be one of the most powerful men in the world.
Rising above victim-hood
David was the youngest son of a family who lived in the village of Bethlehem. His brothers verbally abused him (I Samuel 17:28). His father, Jesse, had so little confidence in him that when Samuel came to pick one of Jesse’s sons to become the next king, Jesse did not even call David in out of the field (16:11). Not only that, but for anyone who has ever been a victim of racism, the Bible even makes note that David had a peculiar skin color (16:12). In spite of the strikes against him David rose to greatness.
I suppose that David could have told himself, “I’ll never be able to get anywhere in life, because I am so much weaker and smaller than my brothers.” Or, “I’ll never be a mighty man, because I am from Bethlehem. If I had grown up in Jerusalem maybe…” He could have sat on the couch wallowing in his victim-hood, smoking dope, eating chips, and playing Nintendo. He could have spent his days talking about how great he would have been if only he had better parents or more loving brothers. But David was not content to be a victim of his situation.
Moving from victim-hood into victory
There are two things that David did to rise above his situation. He practiced with his sling, and he praised God. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he decided that he would become a nukalpiaq regardless of circumstance. It was this mindset that eventually allowed him to take down Goliath. Instead of drinking homebrew in the sheep patch talking about how Daddy didn’t love him, David was preparing himself for greatness. There came a lion and a bear and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by the beard, and smote him, and slew him (I Samuel17:34-35). It was David’s refusal to be a victim that led him to victory. He would go on from these small, unknown victories as a boy to take down Goliath and be recognized by everyone.
Not only did David busy his hands, he busied his heart. Even as a young man he developed skill on the instrument he sang praises to the Lord. This led him from a small village into the palace of the king, where he would play soothing music for King Saul when Saul became mentally ill (I Samuel 16:3). David would go on to write many of the psalms that we still read, pray, and sing today. He would receive the unique distinction of being called by God, “A man after God’s own heart.” While some of us would have been content to lie around the house text messaging our friends about what a raw deal we’ve gotten, David was developing a foundation in Jesus that would carry him through hell and high water.
Will you be a victim or a victor?
With God all things are possible. Jesus is greater than your last name. In Jesus, skin color is no longer an issue (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). His ability to heal is greater than the abuse that you received in your past (Isaiah 53:5). His blood is can give you victory over a criminal history (Matthew 26:28). He can take you from the pit and the prison into the palace of a king (Genesis 37-50). You can go ahead with your poor victimized self, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.