A concerned husband goes to see the family doctor: “I think my wife has a hearing problem. I often have to repeat things several times before she hears me.”

The doctor says, “When you go home tonight, stand about 15 feet behind her and say something. If she doesn’t reply, move about five feet closer and say it again. Keep doing this so we can get an idea of the severity of her problem.”

That evening, when his wife is in the kitchen chopping vegetables, he stands 15 behind her and says, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

When he gets no response, he moves five feet closer and asks again. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” No reply.

He moves five feet closer, and still no reply.

Finally, in desperation, he moves directly behind her and says it again: She turns to him and says, “FOR THE FOURTH TIME, VEGETABLE STEW!”


A running joke on the Seinfeld show was about breaking off a relationship with the line “It’s not you, it’s me.” Sometimes the line is true. Sometimes it really is me. The other person doesn’t have the problem, I do. The other person doesn’t need to get better, I do.

The same can be said for your situation. There’s always the possibility that it’s you, not those around you, who can’t hear. There’s always the possibility that it’s you, not those around you, who needs to adapt to the circumstances.

This applies to our relationships with one another and it applies to our relationship with God. Solomon said, “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:3)

This is the ultimate placing-blame strategy, but it gets us nowhere.


Try this exercise. Make a list, mental or written, of the difficulties you are experiencing due to someone else. Maybe your spouse doesn’t hear you, or worse, doesn’t listen to you; maybe your children don’t obey you; maybe your boss doesn’t appreciate you.

Make a quick list — and then give some thought to what you can do, what changes you can make, to improve the situation.

Take it one step further: Think about what’s not working in your spiritual life right now. Unanswered prayer? Do you feel that God has abandoned you? Have you lost sight of the vision?

Before you allow your heart to rage at the Lord, think about what you can do to change the situation. Is there sin to repent of? Is there folly to abandon?

Getting back on track starts with the realization that maybe it’s not the other guy who needs to be fixed. Maybe it’s me. Is there a possibility that it might be the same for you?

About scon777

Pastor/Teacher at Grace Bible Church in Redwood City, CA since 1998.
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