Posts Tagged ‘Epistle to the Hebrews’

Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Church should be a place where you can feel safe from harm. It should be a place where people don’t cast stones and where love, healing, and growth takes place. The problem with that is that those who gather for church are human. And when you get more than one human together in one place, the chances are, someone is going to get hurt. So, how in the world are we to handle it when it comes? If it’s inevitable, how do we protect ourselves?

I will admit, it’s difficult, and it’s something I struggle with because I have been hurt more than once by a church or someone who was a part of the church. It is so difficult when those who should be leading you, instead of resolving issues, turn to cutting you down and tearing your dreams to shreds. I very recently went through a very hurtful situation, where I felt attacked. I wish I could say that I handled it in the best possible way, but I must admit, I probably could have done better. I wanted so badly to see issues resolved, that when it became obvious that wasn’t the intent of the other person/people involved, I lost all interest in trying to show respect. That isn’t to say that I did lose respect, but I probably didn’t speak as kindly or listen as carefully as I would have normally. I spent the rest of that day fuming and hurting and crying over the way things went down. I was so hurt. And I was so mad at God. How could He allow this to happen? How could He allow me to go through all these crazy drama things I have going on lately? How could He not do something?

But then a new day came. I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over being mad at God. I haven’t. But I’m closer. I am finding comfort in His Word, and through the counsel of my friends, readings, devotionals, and yes, even Facebook statuses that have come my way. And interestingly enough, I’ve begun to look at this differently. See, I want to be a leader. I don’t necessarily want the title of leader – I want to have the actions of a leader. A leader leads whether they have a title or not. That means, even when I am hurting, even when others respond badly, even when I feel like throwing in the towel, I set an example of what love looks like. I set the example of treating others with kindness instead of casting stones. And that’s hard. So, how do I do that?

1) I need to forgive. Forgiveness starts with me. It doesn’t start with receiving an apology. It doesn’t start with someone else realizing they were wrong. It doesn’t start because I feel like forgiving. It starts because I choose to forgive.  One of the statuses I read on Facebook last night said,

“Recently, I received a text message that caused me to stare at my phone in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how hurtful they were being? How could they be so insensitive?

Hurtful situations tend to make me want to fight back and be mean too. Maybe you feel the same way.

But Colossians 3: 12-14 reminds me, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

My job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. Do you know how much of a relief that is? Again, my job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. My job isn’t even to make my side heard. My job is to forgive. I am commanded to forgive. And forgiveness is a choice – sometimes one that has to be made over and over again.

2) I need to stand strong and persevere. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).  Maybe this is a test or trial I need to go through so that I can grow. If I look at it as a punishment or a bad thing, then I do myself a disservice. However, if I look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn, then I find a purpose for the trial. I now have a reason to move forward because now I have an opportunity to learn. Hebrews 12:11 states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (NASB).

It’s not going to be fun to go through the painful situation, but in the end, if I allow myself to be trainable, I will grow from it, and yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” That’s something to look forward to!

3) Finally, I need to keep serving God. If I allow myself to be hurt to the point where I feel I can’t serve, then I am being disobedient to God. We are called to serve, right where we are at. OK, so my ability to serve in the capacity I was in has been taken away at least for the time being. That doesn’t change the fact that I have other ways to serve. I have talents and gifts that God has given me. I will continue to use them to serve Him. Nobody can take that ability away from me, except God Himself.

So, while I am still hurting, and I am still upset, I know God has a good plan for me. He will use me in other capacities if I allow myself to be open to it. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me!

Your turn. Have you ever been in a hurtful situation where you felt like someone was casting stones at you? How did you handle it? What do you do to remind yourself that you still have a purpose? How do you handle hurtful situations? I’d love to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

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Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the  author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB

I found myself thinking of the above passage tonight as I was doing my walk/run workout today.  I got about 3 miles in today, and I am so feeling it.  As I was running, I had to push myself – and boy do I mean push.  I was so ready to give up. This was a far cry from where I was a few months ago.  Yes, I did say a few months ago.  I stopped running back in March because I hurt my shoulder-blade and it hurt to run.  I have not run since, until today.

I’m not really sure how I forced myself to get through this walk/run today – except that I kept telling myself, “You can do this.  You’ve gotten this far.  You can keep going.”  And I still don’t think I’d have made it if my oldest daughter hadn’t been there giving me encouragement, telling me to stick with it.  She kept telling me, “Keep going Mom.  You can do it.”  And somehow – I did.

But I can’t help but think that I would have done better if I had just stuck with it to begin with.  If I had not allowed myself to keep making excuses, I might not have fallen so far behind in my progress.  I might actually have been able to run for 40 minutes straight, which is the end goal of this program.  Because I made excuses and did not keep training, I lost ground in my progress toward physical fitness and weight loss.

This brings me to the verse I started out with.  It made me think about how we’re called to put aside our obstacles and sins that pull us away from God.  So many times we are told to keep the faith and keep moving forward.  Yet, how many times do we tell ourselves, “It’s just too hard.  I can’t do it” or “I’ll do it tomorrow”?  In Hebrews 12:1-3 – we are challenged to run the race that has been set before us with endurance.  We are to keep moving forward, even when it seems too hard.

If I had given up tonight, I wouldn’t have had the feeling of victory when I finished.  Instead, I’d have felt defeated and a failure.  Because I kept going, I got to feel the elation that came with completing the workout. It’s the same way in our Christian walk.  If I give up…  If I tell myself I can’t do it…  If I say I don’t have time… I miss out.  I lose.  I don’t get the feeling of victory.  But if I keep with it and I work through the difficult times and learn and grow – I get the chance to rejoice, and ultimately, when I join Jesus in heaven – I will get to give Him all the glory for my victory.

In addition to enduring, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus.  Jesus is the prize.  He is the reward for keeping the faith – for moving forward with endurance.  If I keep my focus on what the reward is going to be at the end, I am more likely to keep running.  And if I keep my focus on what God has promised – I will keep moving forward and growing.

Yet, we are not called to do this alone.  The writer of Hebrews points out that we have a great “cloud of witnesses.”  We have the word of many who have gone before.  We have examples to follow.  In addition, we are told to grow together.  If I don’t have others to encourage me, I am more likely to give up.  For instance, tonight, if my daughter wasn’t there to tell me to keep going and that I could do it, I’d have given up.  I wouldn’t have kept going.  In our Christian walk, we need to find those who will encourage us to move forward and grow.  We need to find the people who will tell us to keep working toward the goal and that someday, if we keep moving forward and following God, we will see victory in our lives.

I am so glad that I stuck with my run tonight.  I feel so much better for having done it, and now I know I can do it again because I did it once.  I might feel the pain tomorrow, but it will be a pain that comes with a sense of accomplishment – and I couldn’t really ask for anything more.  Just like my feeling of accomplishment for finishing tonight’s workout, growing in Christ might bring some pain, but if I keep moving forward and I learn and grow in God’s word, I will get to feel that same sense of accomplishment, as I gain victory over my sin nature.  And how much more wonderful will that feel?  The words I long to hear someday are “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Until Next Time,

I just love Sundays!  Sunday is my day to relax and rest in the Lord.  I spend time every day in God’s Word, but Sundays I set apart especially to learn about God and to fellowship with other believers.  I find that the growth that I see in my life is directly proportional to the amount of time I spend in fellowship with other believers.  When I spend more time with other believers, I grow more.  When I spend less time with other believers, I grow less.

I think some of this has to do with the fact that when I spend time with other believers, they challenge me to learn more about God.  As I learn about God, I grow in Him and through Him.  I allow Him to work in me more.  That, in turn, helps me to challenge other people to grow.  It is amazing to me how fellowship with other believers can push us to grow.  I guess that’s why God tells us in Hebrews 10:23-25 to “hold fast to the confession of our hope” and to “stimulate one another with love and good deeds,” and finally “not forsaking the assembling together.”  It’s interesting how I have heard that my whole life, and only today finally put two and two together.

But then, that has always kind of been my way.  I have a tendency to take seemingly simple things and make them into something more complicated.  This is something I have struggled with for a long time.  I seem to have this habit of learning things the hard way instead of the easy way.  I don’t know why that is.  Perhaps it’s because I have the “need” to test everything for myself.

It’s not that it’s bad for me to test things, but when I am unwilling to accept anything as fact without testing it, I am doing myself a disservice.  There is nothing wrong with learning from the mistakes of others.  In fact, that can save some heartache.

I often find myself telling my daughters that they can learn from some of my mistakes.   The interesting thing is that God has given me two daughters who are just like me.  They test and test, and they make their own mistakes – some of which they could have avoided had they just listened to me.  Yet, they need to figure things out for themselves.  It seems it’s not really in our nature to just take the word of someone else.

It’s good that God has given my children who are like me (as hard as it is for me to admit).   🙂   They challenge me daily to live out my faith.  And they are always watching – and being teenagers, they aren’t afraid to call me on my inconsistencies.  This challenges me to grow.  It challenges me to listen and learn from other Christians who have been through similar trials.  It challenges me to get back up and keep trying – because what I do has an impact on someone else, even if I never realize it.

I am so grateful that God puts godly friends in my life…

Until Next Time,