Category Archives: Hard Questions

The Best Vengeance

 

 

 

It’s happened to all of us.

Abuses, injustices, offenses, treachery. Wounds we didn’t deserve. People – sometimes those closest to us – who don’t care to make it right.

What do you do, when your offenders have hurt, misused, and betrayed you? Acted in ways that no decent human should act. Trespassed boundaries, destroyed trust, taken away your rights, and thrown your happiness over the cliff?

Most of us would like to see justice done. We want reparation, and restoration of our peace. We want to see the wrong made right,  the adversary acknowledge their wrong,  see the immensity of their crime, and make amends.

Very sadly, this kind of healing does not always happen. We are often left alone with the heavy burden of pain, grief,  even rage, and no answer or relief appears in sight.

What do you do when the offender has no desire to change?

Sure, we can feel re-victimized, experience grief,  get very frustrated or angry, and feel spiteful against them. Don’t they deserve it, after all?

Have you ever noticed the result of such an attitude?  In my  experience, my posture of anger has never yielded the results I wanted.

I have come to see though, that when I choose a higher way, when I decide  to respond with  healthier behavior  than what they have demonstrated, it often seems to baffle them.

Sometimes changing yourself is the best vengeance you can get.

They don’t know what to do when someone  chooses  to not play the “React and Get Offended” game. They have little idea of  how to adjust to someone who treats them with undeserved mercy and a good example of maturity.

And guess what?

THIS is where I have seen the greatest results. I have seen my offenders change their ways, become friends instead of enemies, or sometimes, give up and move on, because I won’t accept the victim role any more.

I have also learned to question my own motives for revenge. What did I want to achieve by getting back at them? More pain, suffering, humiliation? Did I really want them to learn and grow past their destructive ways, into healthier behaviors, or just suffer for the damage they did to me?

In this searching, I have come to realize yet another truth. Vengeance is God’s right and domain. I cannot have the infinite knowledge to know why another person may decide not to change, or may choose to act in the destructive way they do. But God has chosen to offer redemption to them – and to me too – when we least deserved it. So, I have to let them go from my “You Owe Me” file,  and let God take care of them.

I have higher things to do, and so do you. . God has called us to greater things, and we need to expend more time in finding out what those things are, and put our passion and energy into developing those destinies. They will bring far greater happiness and growth, than getting bogged down thinking  about, and anticipating ‘payback’. Is this an easy process? No, but it’s a valuable one!

Don’t let your past woundings and offenses sabotage you from your greatest hopes, dreams and destinies being fulfilled.

Let go of yesterday, pray for those enemies, reconcile wherever possible, plan for a successful tomorrow, and choose to live joyfully today! Invest your energy into building your own dreams and destiny, and stop wasting precious time and resources in thinking negatively of those people, who  -incidentally – gain no benefit from it. Prayer will yield a far better chance for both of you to recover.

Dedicate your energy into redemption, which is making good things come out of evil circumstances. Recognise who the real enemy is here – the one who wants to destroy every person and every potential. Knowing  that the enemy would ruin you, God has provided for your release from the bondage of a painful past.

However, we can’y deny the situations that have occurred. None of us can minimize the pain and agony of some of these wounds. We certainly  must acknowledge them, grieve, deal with them and heal.   However, with surety, we then work onward towards our recovery and revival. Knowing that God has deeply concerned Himself with our restoration, enables us – if we want it – to give the unbearable weight of these woundings to Him.

Go free and forward into your own destiny and drop the heavy burdens of heartache, offenses and grudges behind you!

To pull this all together, when you pray for your enemies, “disconnect” the freightload of pain dragging you backwards.  Let it drop away,  then find your calling, and commit to maturing into your own giftings. That is the greatest  -and healthiest – form of retaliation known to humankind – to decide you will create good out of evil.

It is also one of the greatest blessings God has offered.  And it is free and available, to every one of us !

The Debate Continues – Which Day, Which Way?

 

To egg or not to egg.

Colours, paint, ham, chocolate, Passover, Easter, Good Friday, or Good Thursday,  Three days in the grave or two,  etc?  Who is right. Compare and complain. Another chance for offences to abound.

At this time of year, we celebrate the death and subsequent life of Jesus Christ.  Different groups commemorate the same thing in very differing ways. They cannot agree, and so, end up in divided camps. How can we disengage from the conflict, and celebrate the concept?

Today, I marvel again at the utter humility it took for Someone knowing Himself to be equal to God,  who elected to become human, to voluntarily lay down His life.   The model of love, and servant-hood He displayed boggles the understanding.

It occurs to me that He asked us to set a similar example.

How,  I ponder, can we set such an example of  humility and love towards our fellow humans. We have no earthly power over death and life, do we?

Central to the theme is an overarching word:  Choice. . From beginning to the end, that theme of Choice is prevalent in the Bible.

Jesus chose to do what He did, elected to engage in a deathly conflict between good and evil. We know He won, and He did it for us. When we choose to believe and accept His gift, we move from death to life in Him. No human can offer that level of love , yet we can reflect it in our choices every day.

The book of Proverbs tells us the “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. (18:21)

James says we can alter the course of history by the power of our words. (Ch. 3)

In this one area, how can we choose to model the example of Christ’s life?

By realising He chose to ignore our wrongs, and redeem us back from certain, permanent death.  We,  likewise can speak truthful words that encourage, lift, build and not destroy.  We can choose to redeem. By refraining from complaining, hurtful, gossiping, belittling words that tear down. We can literally change the course of someone’s day, even their life, by the words we choose to speak.

The world is full of offences, anger, negativity, distortions and lies. We don’t have to look far to see it, but we don’t have to duplicate it in our own community. We can disengage from pointless debate, and find ways to emulate the  Love that is so much higher.

In such a simple way – yet very difficult at times – we can model our character to be more like Jesus’, by choosing words of life. We decide whether to stop the flow of anger, offense, revenge, complaint, negativity that pours effortlessly from our mouths. We become more mature and Christ-like, by exercising our power of  Choice, to select instead words of light, and hope and gratitude .

He loved us when we didn’t deserve it. He became a servant and sacrificed all, in order to bring us into all the potential He has for us. It is not a cheap gift He offered. True, selfless Love is the world’s most costly, and most enduring gift.  We cannot give what He gave, but we can honour His wishes, and choose to be a living reflection of His gift, by the words and actions we display.

Happy Resurrection!

So, I’ve Asked God… Why Isn’t He Giving Me What I’ve Asked For?

 

Ah, the age-old question: I keep praying.  Why isn’t God listening?!

You know that Bible piece, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened…”  Soooo, why aren’t I getting my answers?

Well, let’s explore that one today.

In context of the “ask, seek, knock” verse, look at the situation described in Matthew 7.  Do you see that the before-and after scenes described here show relationships? The chapter starts  by describing a judgemental person. It says, “Don’t judge, so that you yourself will not be judged.” ( Funny how so many of our requests revolve around relational issues, isn’t it?)

Okay, well, let’s face it. We ALL judge. We all see things in  other people that we don’t like. So, take a minute to look underneath the criticism.  Why are you doing it?  Seriously.  Ask yourself,  Am I simply frustrated because I don’t like what they’re doing?  Is it a threat to my security or pride, or are they truly doing something wrong?

Ponder as well,  What do I want from this person?

What – in your mind- would fix the problem?

Now, the difficult question: Am I doing the same thing to them, perhaps in another way?

In our frustration, it can be a challenge to think in this sequence, but it will help define your answers.

Next, are we offering them solutions  that are right and holy and mutually beneficial? Or are the ‘suggestions’  self-centred, based on our own desires? Are you truly hearing  why –  he/she is doing what they do?  In other words, have you carefully considered their viewpoint?

Even though they may be in the wrong, do they feel heard – and understood – by you?

Another key point is this: Are they asking you for your opinion?  If not,  you can ask if they’re interested in your idea  to fix this problem, but, if they answer in the negative,  don’t throw away your time!

This is all prep work,  but it is also good maintenance work.  Every relationship will take this kind of  effort to keep it healthy and sound. You may think it’s time consuming,  but the long-term dividends pay very well!   If your repeated attempts to communicate in a healthy, holy way are refused, then stop  wasting your time!   Don’t throw away your gift, your value, or your time where they are discarded, but don’t lose your own grip on doing what is right  in the process!

So, back to the ‘ask-seek-knock’ question… You see, God sets up an evaluation system so we can judge ourselves too. If we have determined that 1) we are not judging, and that 2)  we’ve cleaned up our own tendency to do the same thing, and that 3) we’re not wasting time trying to change someone who isn’t open to improvement,  then look at this, What are you asking for,  and why?

The book of James gives some great insight into this by saying, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Don’t they come from your desire for pleasure, that wars in you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.  Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

Then it goes on with the kicker:  “You ask and don’t receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

God yearns for us to desire friendship with Him first, rather than friendship with things that will never bring us life. True, they may bring amusement and momentary pleasure. Sin is always attractive enough to be very alluring, but always the enemy of the best.

Have you taken your request, be it physical, material, personal, etc. to God?  Matthew goes on to say that He’s a good Father, who wants to give good things to those who ask Him.

Let’s run those unanswered requests through the above filters, and ask if they fit His standards.

Am I asking for what is good and right? Are my reasons self–pleasing, or do they have a holy motivation? Am I willing to hear God,  if perhaps His solution  is  based on my ultimate  good,  but not my immediate pleasure?

What are your thoughts?

 

How Can A Loving God Allow Suffering and Loss? Part 1

Have you ever lost someone very dear to your heart? Have you watched an unstoppable tragedy unfold that you had no power to undo?  Have these things happened to you,  in your life, or in the world and you looked for a reason, an answer, something to make sense of it, yet nothing satisfied you?  I have also experienced much pain, and seen loved ones suffer tremendously, watched local and global events unfold that buried all logic .  Many people have gotten sick, injured, or even died, without understanding or chance of restoration. The shock and anguish seemed like too much to bear, for too many  people, and I had only one question, burning in me, over and over, without quenching. “Why?”

Most of us are no strangers to grief in one form or another. We have either experienced or seen loss and suffering – often in ways that defy understanding. During such intense times, many of us question the supposed love of God. It seems unfathomable that a God who says He loves the whole world enough to die for it, would then turn and allow the ones we love to lose their health, or their very lives.  We begin to doubt, but no answers come  to appease us.  Our questions turn more violent, but nothing comes to calm the wild perplexity. Our pain seems to have no answer, no purpose, and no reason that we can find to justify it.  It is simply beyond our human comprehension that a Deity who says He is “Love” could allow suffering to this degree.  So, in this place, where our grief and suffering meld into anger at God, we scream at Him – give Him one more chance to speak, to prove Himself. Yet,  He is often strangely silent. It almost seems He is a sadist.  How could He permit such damage to innocent people?  How could He do this to me? Am I not worth more than this? I would not treat my worst enemy as He is treating me. I would not allow the world to experience the anguish He allows. And at this point, in our confusion and rage at God, we begin to retreat from Him, to turn towards other answers that make more sense to us, and seem to know the meaning of love.  It is better, I say, to take my own path, for surely, surely, I know a better way than God’s.  Often,  we begin to look for other definitions of Divinity, and power, for as we begin to look to mankind for answers, we see humans as the divinity wherein our answers are found.

Is this the place where our launch towards true happiness begins, or the place where the dive into a long, slow decline commences?

In the next post, we’ll explore this question, look at history and gather some information.