When I was about 10 my grandfather had a massive stroke while boating at the Lake of the Ozarks. I ran up the hill to call the ambulance that took him to the local hospital which then life flighted him to University Hospital in Columbia.
The doctors’ prognosis went from likely death to spending the rest of his life in a nursing home with 24 hour care. My grandmother was old school, depression era tough and she ignored the doctors and took her husband home. For 20 years she devoted herself to taking care of his every need. She sacrificed her well being, her freedom, her relationships for him.
When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer in his early 70’s, the family hoped that after his death my grandmother would finally get the opportunity to travel and and live the life she’d been deprived of the past 20 years. She’d finally get some of the good things she deserved.
Unfortunately as my grandfather died, my grandmother was diagnosed with advanced cancer and she was almost immediately bed ridden and then dead herself.
Members of the family were frustrated that God had allowed this cancer to come so soon and take her before she was able to live a little. She deserved better.
I thought of this recently in light of a discussion I had with some guys about a story in Luke 7. A Roman centurion’s well loved servant was dying and he sent some of the Jewish leaders to Jesus asking if he’d come to his house and heal his servant.
7:4-5 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
“Deserve” is a dangerous word.
That word surfaces again in the story but in a significantly different way.
7:6-7 He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.
“This man deserves…,” vs. “…I do not deserve…”
“God, look at all I’ve done, look at how good I’ve been, I deserve better treatment from you.” Or… “God, I deserve nothing good from you. Every blessing from you means that I’m being treated far better than I deserve.”
5 Signs That You Have A Deserving Attitude
Anger. When I think that I’ve earned something and I don’t get it, I get angry.
Impatience. Why should I have to wait for something I deserve? Didn’t I already earn it?
Cynicism. When I don’t get something I deserve, I believe the world is unfair.
Resentment. When I don’t get what I believe I deserve, I don’t just think that life is unfair. I also believe that God and people are unfair and I resent them.
Criticism. When I don’t get something I deserve, I feel slighted and start searching for shortcomings in other people.
The gospel says that all of us deserved God’s judgment and wrath but were offered forgiveness and mercy in Christ. The more we believe the gospel, the more we are characterized by joy, patience, and thankfulness.