Hold fast!

Image: Alexander Sopin, Unsplash


1. Walk by faith
And not by sight:
God is in
Your darkest night.

2. Never cease to pray
And love:
Blindly, trust
Christ’s saving blood.

3. You will see his face
At last:
So never give up hope –
Hold fast!


References

1. We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; NLT).

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

2. Never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NLT).

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6; NIV).

3. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; NRSV).

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13:7; NLT).

Hold fast to the Lord your God (Joshua 23:8; NIV).

Touch (for A.K.)

Image: Jackson David, Unsplash


🖤

1. Touch my body,
Bind each wound,
For I am faint,
My strength, consumed.

2. Touch my mind,
Correct each thought,
Until I realise
I am naught.

3. Touch my heart,
Yoke me to good,
And fill me with
Your perfect love.

4. Touch my soul,
Make me like Christ
Your Son –
A living sacrifice.

🖤


References

1. He has injured us but he will bind up our wounds (Hosea 6:1; NIV).

My life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed (Psalm 31:10; KJV).

2. The Lord corrects those he loves (Proverbs 3:12; NLT).

I am nothing but dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27; NIV).

3. Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good (1 Peter 4:19; NIV).

We know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:5; NLT).

4. The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT).

So, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice (Romans 12:1; NLT).

May I follow Christ

Image: Sr. Maria-Magdalena R; Pixabay


💙

1. May I follow Christ,
My Guide.

2. May I suffer
At his side.

3. May I value love,
Not wealth.

4. May I long for peace,
Not health.

5. May I cling to truth,
Not lies.

6. May I wait with hope,
Not sighs.

7. May I cherish trust,
Not might.

8. May I walk by faith,
Not sight.

💙


References

1. Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT).

2. If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

3. You cannot serve both God and money (Luke 16:13; NLT).

4. Search for peace and work to maintain it (Psalm 34:14; NLT).

5. A person who seeks to honour the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies (John 7:18; NLT).

6. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children (Romans 8:23; NLT).

7. I pray that God, the source of all hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him (Romans 15:13; NLT).

8. We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; NKJV).

Dealing with hurt

This blog is about dealing with hurt feelings. In three short articles, it charts my learning over a period of several months.


 1. My dilemma – written on 19.8.20.

Image: level17-design, Pixabay


The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me
(Job 30:27; NIV).

Introduction
During the summer of 2020, two people hurt me badly, on separate occasions. I decided to be direct with them, and did so as lovingly as I could. However, both reacted to my feedback with anger and blame, and neither was willing to work together towards reconciliation.

My dilemma: Should I speak out, or say nothing?
This breakdown in two significant relationships left me ruminating for many weeks about all that had gone wrong, generating a constant sense of dread. Sadly, this was not a new experience. Dealing with hurt feelings has posed a serious dilemma for me throughout my life: is it better to speak out to those concerned, or to say nothing?

What did Jesus say and do?
As always, when I don’t know what to do for the best, I looked for guidance in the teaching and example of Jesus. However, he taught, and displayed, both outspoken and silent ways of responding to hurt, criticism, and injustice, which I have always found confusing.

For example, on one occasion he stated: If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them (Luke 17:3; NIV). 

Yet he also said: If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; NLT).

So, what happens when I try to follow each of these two apparently very different approaches?

Speaking out
Experience has taught me that when I speak out directly to someone who has hurt me, it almost always backfires. In response to my feedback, they turn on me with anger and blame, or end our relationship. I then react to their hostility with my characteristic endless sense of dread.

Saying nothing
On the other hand, when I say nothing, I allow the other person to hurt me without protesting, absorbing the pain and damage, just as I did with my emotionally abusive mother. This makes me feel powerless, worthless, and depressed.

Thus, whichever approach I try, I generally end up feeling as if life is not worth living.

Forgiveness
Fortunately, Jesus was absolutely clear that whether or not we speak out, we should always forgive those who hurt us. This applies even if they never acknowledge what they have done, and never apologise. Forgiveness gives me something positive to work on during the months of emotional distress which follow each time someone upsets me.

Conclusion
When people hurt me, I see myself as having only two basic choices: to speak out, or to say nothing. Either way, the outcome is equally damaging for my mental health. Not knowing how to resolve this dilemma has plagued me all my life, and remains a serious problem to this day.


After writing the piece above, I began to talk my dilemma over with a few, trusted people for the first time ever. Gradually, my thinking about it began to change, as described in the next article.


2. My action plan – written on 30.8.20.

Image: Jackson David, Pixabay


If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God
(Matthew 5:23-4; NLT).

Introduction
After writing the above article, I spent a long time working out how to improve my ways of relating to those who hurt me. From the insights gained, I gradually put together an action plan to follow whenever a crisis arises.

My action plan
Rather than seeing my response as a stark choice between speaking out and saying nothing, I decided to tackle each situation in a series of stages.

Stage 1: Withdraw, pray, reflect
When someone behaves unacceptably towards me, I will not confront the person involved immediately. Instead, I will simply tell them that I need time to reflect on what they have said or done. I will then withdraw to sleep on the matter for at least one night. Taking time out will enable me to pray, discuss the situation with someone I trust, and think carefully, before responding. This should help to prevent me from reacting angrily in the heat of the moment, with a high risk of permanently damaging the other person, our relationship, and myself.

Stage 2: Decide whether or not to be honest
During the time out, if I decide it is pointless, or inappropriate, to speak directly  to the person concerned, I need take the matter no further. Instead, I will work on praying for them, and forgiving them.

On the other hand, if I decide to tell the other person how their behaviour has affected me, I need to remember that they may have had no intention, or awareness, of upsetting me, and might therefore be very taken aback when I raise the subject.

Stage 3: Speak out briefly, and lovingly
When I decide to give direct feedback, I will do so as briefly and lovingly as possible. I will remind the person of what they said or did, and be honest about how it has hurt me. Anything beyond this is superfluous.

Stage 4: Wait to see how the person responds
If the other person reacts badly, there is no need for me to do anything further. We are all responsible for our own behaviour, and I can’t expect everyone to respond exactly as I wish.  Instead, I will try to put the whole matter behind me, though I admit that I have always found this impossible.

On the other hand, if the other person reacts positively, and apologises, I will accept this immediately, forgiving them completely. We can then be reconciled, and the whole matter will be resolved.

Stage 5: Start afresh
Finally, however badly things turn out, I can try to start afresh each day. Every time I find myself ruminating about what happened, I will remind myself that the matter is now closed, and that it’s time for me to move on.

Conclusion
From now on, when someone hurts me, I have an action plan to follow. My overall aim will be to maintain a careful balance between being speaking out, preserving relationships, and protecting my mental health.


After finishing this article, I made further progress in dealing with hurt feelings, as described in the final piece of this series.


3. My further learning – written on 23.1.21.

Image: Manfred Antranias Zimmer, Pixabay


Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves
(Philippians 2:3; NLT).

Introduction
Despite my hopes, putting together my action plan didn’t make me feel any better about my two shattered relationships. I was still living with constant dread, which drained my already very limited energy. My sleep and dreams were disturbed, and I began to slip into depression. Clearly, my approach to dealing with hurt feelings was incomplete.

Then, one day, I suddenly realised that when I’ve been honest with someone about their behaviour towards me, and they have taken it badly, or stopped speaking to me, there is one more step I can take, in the hope of resolving the situation.

One more step
I can write to the person concerned, saying how sorry I am about everything that has gone wrong between us. I can tell them that I’m praying for them, and for our relationship, and let them know that I long for us to be reconciled. Even if they don’t respond, I will then know that I have done all I possibly can to put things right between us.

This insight enabled me to write carefully and lovingly to the two people who had hurt me. To my delight, one responded with great generosity of spirit, though sadly the other did not reply. However, by sending these letters, I finally managed to stop ruminating about all that had gone wrong. In consequence, my abiding sense of dread slowly began to diminish.

The teaching of Mother Theresa
At this point, I believed my action plan was complete. Some weeks later, though, I stumbled on Mother Theresa’s teaching about how to deal with exactly the kind of hurtful situations that had destroyed my peace of mind for so many months.

In  her book, “The Joy in Loving” (Penguin Books, 2000), Mother Theresa offers brief but powerful advice on how to become more humble, and therefore more Christ-like. The wording varies slightly in different editions of the book, so I have amalgamated the most relevant points into a single list which hopefully maintains the spirit of her approach:

  • Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  • Accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
  • Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.
  • Accept insults and injuries.
  • Accept being slighted and disliked.
  • Accept contempt, being disregarded, and being forgotten.
  • Be courteous, kind, and gentle, even when provoked.

Inspired by the simplicity and clarity of these teachings, I began to absorb and practice them. Not long afterwards a friend unexpectedly censured me for something which was not under my control. Feeling hurt, I began to defend myself, but quickly recalled Mother Theresa’s wise words, “Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.” I stopped speaking, and turned away. Overwhelmed by despair, I started to weep. To my friend’s credit, she quickly realised how much she had hurt me. She approached me, apologising profusely. We clung together for a long time in great distress, comforting each other. Eventually I was able to explain how afraid I had been of her sudden anger, and how much her words had upset me. I told her that I loved and valued her, and we were fully reconciled.

Humility, acceptance and courtesy
This was a deeply healing experience, unlike anything  I had previously experienced. Moreover, it was not followed by dread, or depression, which seemed little short of a miracle. I therefore resolved to adopt Mother Theresa’s approach of responding with humility, acceptance, courtesy, kindness and forgiveness whenever someone hurts me.

Conclusion
These three linked articles have described how I resolved my lifelong dilemma about the best way to respond when someone hurts me. I no longer see myself as having a straight, binary choice between speaking out and saying nothing. Nor do I need a complex action plan that relies on how the other person reacts at each stage. Instead, from now on, whenever I am criticised or attacked, I will use the simple, humble approach encapsulated in Mother Theresa’s teaching.

To my delight, this completely resolves my original dilemma, as it is entirely in accordance with the spirit of Christ’s own words: Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also […] Then your reward in heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High (Luke 6:27-9, 35; NLT). 

There can be no finer action plan than this.


Acknowledgements

My warmest thanks to all those who engaged in discussing this issue with me, especially Alan, Dianne, Rosemary, and John. Their contributions have been invaluable. Many thanks also to Ber, whose technical help and personal encouragement enabled me to write and organise this document.

I pray to you

Image: Dorotheé Quennesson, Pixabay


🖤

1. I pray to you,
The Christ, who came
To save us all
From sin and shame.

2. I call on you,
The Christ, who dwelled
On earth, God’s Son,
Unparalleled.

3. I plead with you,
The Christ, who died
For all: my Saviour,
And my Guide.

4. I worship you,
The Christ, who rose
From death; through whom
God’s mercy flows.

💛


References

1. Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; NLT).

2. Call on him now while he is near (Isaiah 55:6; NLT).

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him (1 John 4:9; NLT).

You have no equal (Psalm 40:5; NLT).

3. Plead with the Almighty (Job 8:5; NIV).

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God (1 Peter 3:18; NLT).

He has sent us a mighty Saviour (Luke 1:69; NLT).

He guides me along right paths (Psalm 23:3; NLT).

4. Worship Christ as Lord of your life (1 Peter 3:15; NLT).

He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18; NLT).

God […] called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ (Galatians 1:6; NLT).

Love

Image: Patricio Hurtado, Pixabay


✝️

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

1. God, our Father,
You are love,
Living in all you make.

2. Christ, our Saviour,
You are love,
Suffering for our sake.

3. Holy Spirit,
You are love,
Waiting in every soul.

4. Lord,
You are unfailing love,
Longing to make us whole.

His hands make whole (Job 5:18; NKJV).

✝️


References

1. God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

There is […] one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).

I am the Lord, who made all things (Isaiah 44:24; NLT).

2. We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Saviour (Philippians 3:20; NLT).

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10; NIV).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9; NIV).

3. You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you (1 John 2:27; NLT).

The Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

4. The Lord our God is one Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4; RSV).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

The Lord longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18; NIV).

Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).

Reflections


Image: Ruth Kirk


💛

Now we see things imperfectly,
like puzzling reflections…

1. Light on water,
Fire from heaven.
Living presence:
Jesus Christ.

2. Peace rains down
On earth, forever.
Love for all,
His sacrifice.

3. Truth streams out
To every mortal.
Faith is offered:
Make your choice!

4. Hope floods down
To all the nations:
Seek God’s Kingdom!
Hear his voice!

5. Ask the Father
To forgive you.
Welcome him
Into your soul,

6. Then, take your cross,
And follow Christ,
For he, alone,
Can make you whole.

…but then we will see everything with perfect clarity
(1 Corinthians 13:12; NLT).

💛


References

1. God is light (1 John 1:5; NIV).

I am the light of the world (John 8:12; NLT).

Rivers of living water will flow from his heart (John 7:38; NLT).

God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV). 

I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NLT).

God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17; NLT).

2. The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT).

He made peace with everything in heaven and earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross (Colossians 1:20; NLT).

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you (John 14:27; NKJV).

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; NLT).

He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:27-8; NLT).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

3. The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16; NLT).

The promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift (Romans 4:16; NLT).

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make (Deuteronomy 13:19; NLT).

4. I pray that God, the source of all hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13; NLT).

My strong arm will bring justice to the nations. All distant lands will look to me and wait in hope for my powerful arm (Isaiah 51:5; NLT).

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously (Matthew 6:33; NLT).

Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7; NLT).

5. Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before it is too late (Jeremiah 36:7; NLT).

To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12; NIV).

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

6. Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT).

 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”(John 14:6; NLT).

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

Walk by faith

Image: Anja, Pixabay


🖤

1. When we walk by faith,
Not sight,
Darkness is the same
As light,

2. And daytime is the same
As night –
When we walk by faith,
Not sight.

3. When we live in love,
Not fear,
Christ the Lord
Is always near,

4. To share our sorrows
Year by year –
When we live in love,
Not fear.

🖤


References

1. We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; NKJV).

Darkness and light are the same to you (Psalm 139:12; NET). 

2. Darkness is not too dark for you to see, and the night is as bright as day (Psalm 139:12; NET).

3. All who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

Perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18; NIV).

I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NLT).

4. In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4; NKJV).

No escape


Image: ashbrauw, Pixabay


🖤

In all their suffering he also suffered
(Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

🖤

1. There’s no escape
From suffering,
Unless we face it all
With Christ.

2. There’s no relief
From wretchedness,
Until we place it
In his hands.

3. There’s no time out
From loneliness,
Unless we share
His sacrifice.

4. There’s no release
From agony,
Except with Christ,
Who understands.

🖤


References

1. Days of suffering torment me (Job 30:27; NLT).

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

2. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:24; NIV).

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-9; NLT).

3. You have taken away my companions and my loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT).

Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away (Mark 14:50; NLT).

We know what real love us because Jesus gave up his life for us (1 John 3:16; NLT).

Let us also go, that we may die with him (John 11:16; NIV).

4. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony (Psalm 6:2; NLT).

My spirit is poured out in agony (Lamentations 2:11; NLT).

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same testings we do (Hebrews 4:15; NLT).

Love God


Image: Mabel Amber, Pixabay


💙

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love
(Galatians 5:6; NIV).

💙

1. Love God, and all.
Give thanks, and pray.

2. Rejoice; forgive;
And serve, each day.

3. Be kind, and humble.
Bear your cross;

4. And follow Christ
Through every loss.

💙


References

1. Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31; NLT).

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).

2. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you
(Matthew 6:14; NLT).

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35; NIV).

3. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone (2 Timothy 2:24; NLT).

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3; NLT).

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT).

4. God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example and you must follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NLT).