“Oh no….it’s happening again! Look, look! It’s breaking news! Oh wow….oh wow…look at the front page…” Said the young twenty-two year old through wide eyes to her friend across the table of a café. She quickly covered her mouth as tears welled in her eyes. The young woman held the side of her own face as she turned her screen around to show her friend the information regarding the recent terrorist attack. Upon reading the latest news feed, the brown eyes of the girl’s friend grew large in disbelief. “Oh my gosh! Look at the streets named; we were just there a few months back during our end of year trip!” Both young women were silent for a few moments as the hot cappuccinos steamed before them. Suddenly the silence was broken in fear, “You know, they are all like this! Once a murdering people always a murdering people!” Both young adults gasped in disbelief as they continued to scroll through photos and updates before they would return to preparing for Bible study.
When we harbor anger, we can feel “justified” or even right with God for holding such a strong emotion due to what another has or has not done. Yet, what we are often unaware of is the fact that the iron clad shackles of hate cause our overarching joy from the Lord to slowly choke out. Rather than seeing things through the eyes of grace and the supreme reality that the Lord is indeed in control; hate begins to slowly close off exposure of our hearts to the Son of God. And the resulting darkness, can be very much at play within ourselves—even while faithfully attending church and Bible study.
Rather than counting one’s blessings and asking how the Lord would choose to use us to be part of the solution, as the Word of God encourages us to do (Psalm 105:1, Psalm 106:1& Isaiah 12:4), counting subsequent blunders becomes the focal point of choice. Such chains have a way of slowly distancing us from the fellowship of true believers and the needed nutrients that is absolutely essential for our souls which is found in fellowship with Jesus Christ alone.
Whispers of injustice, reminders of failed help and a continual song of the faults of others run through one’s mind; further justifying the stance of paranoia, mistrust and vengeance. As a result, the truths of God’s perfect and Holy Word begin to seem less applicable, less relevant and sometimes the individual even concludes that the Bible should to be “put away” while the other influences scream of hate and revenge.
“Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5 (HCSB)
These swirling emotions continue amidst major blessings, but the individual cannot see them, nor stops to give thanks to the Lord for them. Rather than seeing the ever-present hand of the loving Lord at play in all seasons of life, it is as if this person has sought out each mud puddle along the beautiful path of life…and sat deep within it. Wallowing in pain, forgetting the Lord’s faithfulness and throwing mud at others because they are not wallowing in the same filth. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have all taken turns both sitting in the mud as well as slinging some at times.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of may kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:2-5 (NIV)
Ladies, hardship and trials are real; but so is our VICTORY over them through the victorious name of the Risen King Jesus Christ (John 16:33). We may see horror unfolding in the lives of individuals where the absolute injustice of the circumstances have awaken murderous thoughts, demonic inspired words and divisive mannerisms within our own souls. Ladies, regardless of the circumstances that bring us to the mud pits and shackles of hatred and resentment, may we always check our hearts for bitterness, envy and vengeful thoughts. For if we have allowed ourselves to wear the shackles of hatred for any length of time, seeds of bitterness and its kind, will begin to show themselves in our words, thoughts and actions.
Why does this matter? Why not just laugh it all off in sarcasm? Because, as one who has battled through these very attempts of Satan to steal my joy (John 10:10) allow me to personally speak of the redemption that is available to YOU this very day through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s not enough to simply “know” what the Bible says, we must walk it out…actions speak louder than words.
“14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. 18But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe — and they shudder.” James 2:14-19 (HCSB)
I tell you that God has better in store for you, too! Call out to the Lord for help in the midst of your suffering and feelings of injustice and repent for your feelings of hatred and bitterness. God will not only hear you, but also rescue and redeem you for His great glory and divine purpose!
19My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.
22But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works — this person will be blessed in what he does.
26If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. 27Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:19-27 (HCSB)
Don’t sit in that pit or within those shackles any longer! You were created for greatness and divine adventure (Jeremiah 29:11-14), but it will never be recognized from the limited view of a mud hole or from the darkness of iron shackles. Call out to the Lord and allow Him to raise you up and break the shackles of hatred that have no business on a child of God. Take hold of the freedom available to you through Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior.
“I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.” Jonah 2:6 (NASB)
May we come to realize that sometimes the kindness of God is revealed in what is taken away from us. At times it is the breaking of our dreams of “perfect” or “success” that reveal our true loyalties. Are we devoted to the world and it’s ideas of power, safety and success? Or, are we devoted to the ways of the Lord and willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23 & Mark 8:34)—no matter what?
May we come to realize that God, being a perfect and sovereign father, desires what is best for each of us. And at times, that means that we will best learn and grow in our trust through tears. The Bible is filled with accounts of individuals who had to let go of their own ideas and release them fully to the Lord—knowing that He alone is fully trustworthy and good (Nahum 1:7). In the end, may we recall why we are here on this spinning rock. It is not to accumulate goods and items of status for ourselves, but for the honor—given to each heart—to worship and seek hard after the heart of God. And the only way we can please the Father God is through a right relationship through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Risen King (Romans 10:9-10). Thus, if you are reading this today—still replaying the details of something that you have recently heard or read—take it to the Lord in prayer. May we realize that sometimes the kindest thing the Lord can do for us is to break our ideals and perceptions of the world around us in order to free our hands and hearts to then pick up His ideals and world focus, which are righteous, redemptive and holy.
You are precious, you are priceless and you are loved by the One who created your soul. Rejoice in His ever-present love and faithful forgiveness this very day. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ how He might choose to use you and your specific talents to further the gospel of His forgiveness and reconciliation for all peoples—all across this vast globe—for HE alone is worthy (Isaiah 6:1-8)!