Have you ever felt so alone, isolated and unloved by the very people that were supposed to love you? Have you felt misunderstood, ganged up on and victimized by those who were supposed to protect you and care for you. I have, and I want to share with you how God uses those experiences in my life to Grow my understanding of the theology of total depravity. We are so incapable of loving on our own strength because we as humans are totally flawed and depraved of doing anything good apart from the enabling power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. Even as believers we struggle to love and show the grace of God when we've been deeply wounded by those we most trusted. In that moment when we feel pain in our deepest being unless we run to the Lord for strength of His spirit to hold us up over and over again, our love will not be enough for the survival of those relationships.
When I feel isolated, hurt and unloved by those I care for the most there is one place in the Bible I love to go to and immerse myself with the Truth of God. Psalms 25 as a whole is where I typically go to pray for God's deliverance, forgiveness and Love to be poured out on me...specifically these verses:
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
So friends, I encourage you to run to the Lord when it seems all hope is lost and when those who "love" you the most fail you, remember they cannot love you apart from God's power in and through them just like you cannot do it without Him. God's word says our righteousness is like a filthy rag and reminds us that
10 None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.” in Romans 3: 10-12
We cannot and shouldn't hold the sin of others against them because Christ has paid it for them on the cross just as He's done it for you and me. I know it's a hard one to swallow and I'm preaching to myself as I write this but, in all honesty I cannot stand before christ and proclaim His blood cleanses us from ALL sin and be a hypocrite by not forgiving those who sinned against me.
So what's next? How do we forgive and move on?
I'm learning that forgiveness is very difficult, especially when you have to forgive and open up your heart again for a possible hurt because you cannot avoid those who you love the most. I'm learning it's a step of faith, I believe we forgive the person because unless we do then we haven't accepted Christ's saving power, and we open up our hearts to that person as an obedience to Christ. You may have a very valid reason for not trusting the people in your life at the moment but if God's word instructs us to forgive one another then we must act out of obedience and faith. Jesus did tell his disciples that People will know you're my disciples by the way you love one another. Therefore, if the evidence of our christianity is by the way we love others not being able to forgive shows we're not God's Children. It is a direct indication of our life of obedience to Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sometimes we may forgive but not be able to reconcile with people because of their refusal to sit and talk through the hurt they've caused and their unrepentant heart that fails to recognize the damage they've caused and lack of willingness to mend what's broken. In that sense, what the Lord requires of us is to forgive and move on...if we look at Matthew 18:15-17 it gives us a clear direction on how to deal with those who refuse to reconcile...“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." This has been a very freeing verse for me because of the cultural context I live in.
Ethiopia as most African countries has a communal culture and we are very much scared of confrontation. Confrontation is treated as being evil or an instigator of fights...the idea of a loving, correcting, rebuking and restoring process of confrontation is not well practiced in our culture and because of that we struggle as a Christian community because we cover up sin and not talk about it. We all know what happens when a wound is covered up without treatment, it spreads and gets infected and can even be deadly. God's word in James 5: 16 tells us “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." There is no healing and reconciliation unless there is an admittance of sin and praying for one another, there fore if and when we find ourselves in these situations, we need to remember that we're at a vulnerable stage for the enemy of our souls. when we experience, rejection, hurt and isolation he can easily enter our hearts and minds and control the situation unless we humbly present ourselves to the Lord and remember that we don't follow a high priest who didn't experience what we are experiencing. We can take refuge in knowing that Christ more than any human being has experienced rejection, conviction and even death for a crime He didn't commit but on our behalf has given His life to death on a cross so we may be free of the enemy's strong hold.
Therefore, I encourage you friends to take refuge in the name of Christ who has defeated the enemy. Seek to live peacefully with everyone if you can, and when you can't pray you'll be able to extend so much grace. Pray for a Christ like forgiveness which encompasses seeking to understand and forgive and allow reconciliation to take place. If done right, it brings healing to the soul and glory to the King of Kings but when done wrong the enemy will get a foot hold and make a field day out of it. Seek the Lord, even if things have gone wrong, pray for reconciliation, pray for peace and look for the opportune time to extend grace. After all we're called to live by faith and not by sight and most of the time walking by faith hurts a little but that's when we get to see the beauty of Christ revealed and His love so lavishly displayed in the way he leads us, so yes when their love is not enough His love is more than enough.