Sunday, November 04, 2007

Where Will Your Hurt Lead You?

by Larry Rouse

Over the years I have witnessed the reactions of Christians to the terrible experience of being divorced from their mate. In most of these cases their mate had participated in numerous affairs and the faithful Christian tried but failed to restore their loved one. They then applied the only scriptural grounds for divorce the Lord gave and put away their unfaithful mate. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9)” While these Christians were indeed innocent of the breaking up their marriage, they now had to face the very difficult task of rebuilding their lives and seeking to heal their wounded spirit.

Regardless of the cause of the hurt, if it be divorce, death, betrayal, or some other cause, this presents an opportunity for Satan to take advantage of us in our hurt (2 Cor 2:11). This is a major challenge to our faith. Will we let our emotions and thus our flesh direct us in the ways of the world or will we walk by faith? Will you let God or your hurt lead you? The obvious choice is easy to recognize but very difficult to practice.

Learn to Give to God the Things You Cannot Change

Satan’s greatest success comes when a Christian is overburdened. Over time he will seek relief from his burden that often will involve sin. Jesus knows that we have a “load limit” and He pleads with us to let Him carry the burden that we cannot. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)” Jesus gives us responsibilities that we can handle! When we stay within the “yoke” given by our Lord then our faith will grow and our wounded spirit will heal.

We need to apply a simple bit of wisdom and distinguish between God’s bearable burden and the unbearable burdens we are tempted to carry. This truth is well stated in this common quote: “"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." Consider this short list of things that fall into this category. I cannot change: the past, what is right and wrong, death, the weather, and many other things. One other practical but major item is this, I cannot change another person against their will. If you fail to recognize these things and then refuse to give them to God, you will, in time, become a “burnt-out” disciple, full of cynicism and doubt. Why not trust God and give these things to Him?

Learn to Slam the Door on Self-Pity

Have you ever heard this children’s song: “"Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. I'm going out and eat worms"? This is a perfect description of one having a “pity-party.” Have you ever reasoned like this: "People are talking about me. Nobody understands my feelings! There is no one on earth who has suffered as me. Nobody cares. I do not deserve this."? If so, then you are walking down the road of self-pity and if you are not careful it will run and then ruin your life.
Great men of God at times struggled with these feelings. Elijah, after a physically and emotionally exhausting day in which he defeated the prophets of Baal, received word of a death threat from Jezebel the queen (1 Kings 19:1). The emotions of Elijah caused him to flee into the wilderness and plea to God for his own death. He then claimed that he was the only one left that cared about God and there was no more need to try. “And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers! … 10So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:4b, 10) Elijah allowed his emotions to create a “reality” that was not real. The Lord made sure that the prophet got some food and a needed rest, and then proceeded to tell him about the 7,000 who were faithful in Israel (1 Kings 19:18). God then sent him back to work!

Please resist the temptation to withdraw and count all brethren as unfaithful because of your experience with certain men. You must fight the temptation to conclude that you can read the minds of others and thus write them off because of your “instincts.” In many ways you will become just like the ones who hurt you in these kinds of unrighteous judgments (John 7:24). When you withdraw from brethren that love you into the cold and isolated world of self-pity, then things will only get worse. It has been said that self-pity is a slow and very painful form of suicide.

Learn the Power of Thanksgiving

When we open our eyes to what God has done and is doing for us, then we will not make ourselves the “center of the universe.” “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)” Which will you choose -- thanksgiving or self-pity? The 3 “L’s” of self-pity are these: “What I have Lost, What I Lack, and How I am Limited.” So much of our disposition depends upon what we choose to focus on. As one man related “I complained because I had no shoes until I met someone who had no feet." In contrast the thankful man sees the blessings of God and speaks with the apostle Paul saying: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)”

A man of faith will be optimistic and full strength. A Biblical faith will teach you how to deal with the issues of life and especially how to overcome adversity. This stand will make you a blessing in the lives of others rather than an isolated cynic. Do you really believe in God? It is my prayer that you will let your thoughts become conformed to God’s thoughts. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)”

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