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Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Why do Bad things happen to “good” people?

Have you ever had a friend, family member or someone you’re mentoring, come to you and ask why a loving God has not “fixed” some problem in their life?  In situations where the source of their troubles is obviously their own choices, I’ll often tell this story.

A construction worker sat down on a pile of lumber with his buddies to have lunch.  One man opened his lunch box and slammed it closed in disgust.  “Peanut butter sandwiches on Monday!  Peanut butter sandwiches on Tuesday!  Peanut butter sandwiches on Wednesday!  I can’t take it anymore!”

“Why don’t you ask your wife to make something different,” asked his friends.  “Well that’s the problem, I make my own lunch.”

If I’m really honest with myself, a lot of the frustration in my life is self-imposed – my own doing.  I leave late for a meeting, get caught in traffic and am embarrassed, when I’m late.  I speak to my wife disrespectfully and blame her for the resulting fight.

I meet with people all the time who complain about all kinds of things that can be traced back to poor or sinful choices they’ve often made.

  1. A man’s wife walked out on him because he worked too hard “for the family.”  But, he then asks me, “Why would a Christian woman do that to me,” as if he was the victim.

  2. A couple has insurmountable credit card debt because they wanted nice things “for their children.”  And they ask me why God doesn’t provide a way out.

  3. A man or woman’s alcohol use, infidelity or abusive behavior is destroying their relationship and the abuser questions why God would let this happen to them.

My father died of lung cancer at age 47.  I don’t recall him ever asking “why?”  He knew why. He was a smoker.  God didn’t let this happen to him.  My dad killed himself slowly, smoking little “peanut butter sandwiches” twenty times a day.

So what are the peanut butter sandwiches in your life?

What unwise or sinful choices are you making, even today that others have been telling you that you may be the true source of your frustration, unhappiness or failures?  You cannot always control what others do, but you can take control of your own life.

A wise family counselor once told me, “Clare, nothing changes, if nothing changes.”  His point was this; if I wanted change in my life, I’m the one who has to change.  Waiting for others to change and blaming them for my problems, solves nothing.

In The 10 Second Rule, there is a chapter on pre-decisions.  A pre-decision is a conscience choice to begin acting differently, when you know what you’ve been doing just isn’t working.

Right now, ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any peanut butter sandwiches in your life.  Ask him for the gift of discernment and wisdom not only to recognize them, but the courage to act to overcome them.  Then make some pre-decisions to change your behavior.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.” 2 Peter 1:5-6

Perhaps there’s a person you’ve been spiritually mentoring who needs to hear the peanut butter sandwich story to convict them to “own” their responsibility.  If God has given you a 10 second rule impression of a person who needs to hear this teaching, do it!

Following Jesus in Real Life

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