Part of the issue is that it’s so much easier to talk about applying the antidote, than it is to actually do so. Why? Because we have to give up our right to hold onto the hurt, or to the anger. We must, as I wrote previously, forgive people for failing us—in essence, for not being God.
But why—why is it so hard to just lay it down? Even when we know—or say we know—that God is good, that He is all wise, that we trust Him?
I wrestled with this all week but still haven’t come up with a good answer. Oh, yes, I write things and then get tested on them, pretty much immediately. This time seems harder for some reason. Maybe because life has been filled with stresses that fly at me from all directions. You now how it is: you try to hold it together, but at some point one or several darts get past your defenses, and then here comes the meltdown. Your friends, your loved ones, are left standing there looking at you like an idiot—you were so strong last week, what’s wrong with you that you can’t keep it together over this?
And once it’s there, under your skin, it tends to flare at odd moments, like poison ivy—you think you have it beat, or mostly so, then you scratch unthinkingly at a mild itch, and suddenly it’s a full-blown breakout, all over again.
It isn’t that the offenses aren’t real, or valid things to be upset about. The thing is, when we focus on them, it feeds the itch rather than kills it. But when we deliberately choose to look up, to look at the Cross, look at Jesus Himself—it begins to fade.
The stepsisters I wrote about last week, jealousy and envy, will hate that, of course. If the Prince isn’t paying attention to them, they don’t want anyone to be happy, and here’s where they show their ugliness. They’ll stop their charade of sympathy and instead lean into your face, screeching and jeering. You’re such an idiot! This proves it! You’ll never change, God doesn’t care about fixing your situation, you’ll have to put up with this indefinitely, and you deserve the misery you feel.
And you know what? Jesus knows what it feels like to have those things screamed at you. He’s experienced injustice: the people who should have known the time of His coming, didn’t, and even those who followed Him misunderstood His purpose until after the Resurrection. He was beaten, mocked, spit on—and this was God, the One who made us all, who gave us life and then went above and beyond to come be the payment for our rebellion against Him! Who had more right to feel the hurt, to be angry at the slight?
But He knows—and He does care. If He doesn’t change a situation, He has a reason, whether it’s for our growing, or to test our trust in Him, or because His purpose for that other person isn’t yet completed. Regardless, we can know that He’s intending to work a greater good through it.
This doesn’t mean the answer is necessarily always to ignore the voices and tough it out. God is always there beside us, but sometimes He waits for us to actually ask Him to deal with those bullying girls before intervening.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 4 & 12, NKJV)
(first appeared 4/28/13)