Over the past few months I have been meditating on suffering, pain, blame, overcoming, temptation, coping mechanisms. They all seem to go together.
Memorizing the first chapter of James, it dawned on me that temptation isn’t always indulgence, lust, gossip, temptation can also be what we do with our pain. We all of have pain. There is pain that we may never know growing up in the western world like the depths of poverty in developing countries. Starvation. Temple prostitution. Living outside in the elements. Pain comes in many forms in our world too. Abandonment, loneliness, failure, isolation, divorce, abuse, lack of purpose, watching a loved one suffer, death. How do we deal with this pain? Speaking from my own experience, there is a deep need in the human soul for identification, recognition, acknowledgement, someone to really know you and to know the deep parts of your soul. Someone to really know your pain. We were created for this. To be known. To be loved. To be identified with. The temptation with all of this is to search for that person, those people to meet that deep innate need. But that search leads to more pain. It leads to a struggle or a great war in the soul of isolating yourself because of continued hurt while at the same time still on a desperate search to be known. For someone to know your pain. This leads to many other temptations that we all fall prey to or have in the past – blaming others, gathering others to agree with our blame, verbally vomiting on innocent parties to defend our cause, mentally checking out, isolating ourselves further, injuring ourselves in another way for minor relief of a crippling pain, self medicating, running away from pain, denial, avoiding attachment, self indulgence, deeper sin. Pain can begin by an infliction from another but be perpetuated by our own choices. We are all there, have been there and will again be there. In this fallen world with imperfect people, pain is inevitable.
If we were created to be known or loved, how do we meet that need? Psalm 121:1 -2 I lift my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord. Really? It seems like such a cliché. Can the Lord really help me? YES! Jesus Christ is THE answer. James 1:21 tells us to receive with meekness the engrafted Word which is able to save our souls. We can search high and low and try to find help from people and things that will always end up coming up short at some point. Or we can take God at His Word that faith comes by hearing, hearing the Word of God and set ourselves on the path of true healing from the inside out. Because, we can run away, but we take ourselves with us. And other people, when they/we give a part of themselves/ ourselves apart from God, we are just spreading our opinions, hurt, pain which equals one putrefying sore adding infection to another in Isaiah 1:6. What is the Word of God? For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart Heb 4:12. We don’t pretend our pain isn’t there. We bring it boldly before the throne of God in Hebrews 4:16. We know that our help comes from God and if we don’t know it, we ask God to help our unbelief. We trust that God is doing a work in us and He is not the Author of sin but the Master Artist of taking something so horrible and turning it into something for good in His Kingdom because He created us, He loves us, He knows us and He identifies with us. Get yourself in the Word of God and get yourself onto the path of healing.
March 24 My Utmost for His Highest:
Decreasing for His Purpose
"He must increase, but I must decrease"
If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, “This person should not have to experience this difficulty.” Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, “You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him.”
Beware of rejoicing with someone over the wrong thing, but always look to rejoice over the right thing. “. . . the friend of the bridegroom . . . rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30). This was spoken with joy, not with sadness-at last they were to see the Bridegroom! And John said this was his joy. It represents a stepping aside, an absolute removal of the servant, never to be thought of again.
Listen intently with your entire being until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another person. And never give any thought to what devastation, difficulties, or sickness it will bring. Just rejoice with godly excitement that His voice has been heard. You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34).
Maintaining the Proper Relationship
". . . the friend of the bridegroom . . ."
Goodness and purity should never be traits that draw attention to themselves, but should simply be magnets that draw people to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing others to Him, it is not the right kind of holiness; it is only an influence which awakens undue emotions and evil desires in people and diverts them from heading in the right direction. A person who is a beautiful saint can be a hindrance in leading people to the Lord by presenting only what Christ has done for him, instead of presenting Jesus Christ Himself. Others will be left with this thought— "What a fine person that man is!" That is not being a true "friend of the bridegroom"— I am increasing all the time; He is not.
To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it. Only occasionally is it a matter of obedience. At those times when a crisis arises, we have to find out what God’s will is. Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the "friend of the bridegroom." Christian work can actually be a means of diverting a person’s focus away from Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends "of the bridegroom," we may become amateur providences of God to someone else, working against Him while we use His weapons.