Reach out to Christ

Image: Sasin Tipchai, Pixabay


💛

He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it in my side.
Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27; NIV).

1. Reach out to Christ.
Take his way as your own.
Have faith in his teaching,
And make his praise known.

2. Reach out to Christ.
Take his truth as your guide.
Then trust in his mercy,
And walk by his side.

3. Reach out to Christ.
Take his life as your light.
Love all those you contact,
And dwell in his sight.

4. Give him your body,
Your heart, soul, and mind –
Then follow him gladly,
And serve humankind.

💛


References

1. Jesus told him, “I am the way” (John 14:6; NLT).

A person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16; NLT).

Make known his praise around the world (Isaiah 12:5; NLT).

2. Jesus told him, “I am […] the truth” (John 14:6; NLT).

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13; NLT).

I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever (Psalm 52:8; NKJV).

3. Jesus told him, “I am […] the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

His life brought light to everyone (John 1:4; NLT).

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT).

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress, and refusing to let the world corrupt you (James 1:27; NLT).

The eye of the Lord is on those who fear him (Psalm 33:18; NKJV).

4. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind (Luke 10:27; NLT).

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24; NLT).

You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways (Isaiah 64:5; NLT).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

There’s always time

Image: geralt, Pixabay


❤️

1. There’s always time
To offer love,
And treat each person
With respect.

2. There’s always time
To listen,
To respond with kindness,
And connect.

3. There’s always time
To understand,
And put the other person
First.

4. There’s always time
To see in them
Our Saviour, Christ,
Who cried, “I thirst!”

❤️


References

1. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT. My emphasis).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

You will be treated as you treat others (Matthew 7:2; NLT).

2. The wise listen to others (Romans 12:15; NLT).

Be kind to everyone (2 Timothy 2:24; NLT).

Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me (Matthew 18:5; NLT).

Love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31; NLT).

Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).

Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).

Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4; NLT).

3. Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mark 9:35; NLT).

4. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), “I thirst” (John 19:28; RSV).

Within us all

Image: geralt, Pixabay


💙

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us
(Colossians 3:11; NLT).

1. Christ, the light within us all,
You make our nights
As bright as day.

2. Christ, the peace within us all,
You hear our sighs,
And help us pray.

3. Christ, the truth within us all,
You cleanse our sins,
And heal our shame.

4. Christ, the love within us all,
We lift our hearts
To praise your name.

💙


References

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

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

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29; NLT).

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

Peace I leave you; my peace I give you (John 14:27; NIV).

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; NRSV).

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

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

Through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins (Acts 13:38; NLT).

On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me (Zephaniah 3:11; ESV).

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

No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39; NLT).

I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever (Psalm 145:21; NLT).

Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven (Lamentations 3:41; NLT).

Just a tiny step

Image: Pexels, Pixabay


🤎

1. Christ is just
A tiny step away.

2. He lives within us all,
And waits, each day,

3. For us to talk with him
In constant prayer,

4. Seek him in all,
And find him everywhere.

5. Christ is just
A tiny step away.

6. He lives within us all,
And waits, each day,

7. For us to hear his voice,
To learn, and grow,

8. Then love him in others,
Everywhere we go.

🤎


References

1,5. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

2,6. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

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

3. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NLT).

Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

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

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT).

4. Keep on seeking, and you will find (Matthew 7:7; NLT).

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

7. This is my dearly-loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him! (Matthew 17:5; NLT).

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 11:29; NIV).

You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18; NLT).

8. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15; NLT).

Unite with Christ (for A.K.)

Image: truthseeker08, Pixabay


🤎

Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

1. Unite with Christ,
The Lord of lords,
And with all those
Who offer prayer.

2. Unite with Christ,
The Son of Man,
And with all those
Who love, and care.

3. Unite with Christ,
The King of kings,
And with all those
In want, and fear.

4. Unite with Christ,
The Son of God,
And with all those
Who suffer here.

May the Lord make your love for one another
and for all people grow and overflow
(1 Thessalonians 3:12; NLT).

🤎


References

1. They all met together and were constantly united in prayer (Acts 1:14; NLT).

2. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT).

3. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

4. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me (John 17:21-3; NLT).

Repent and turn to God

Image: Hans Braxmeier, Pixabay


💛

Each of you must repent and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2:38; NLT).

1. Repent,
And turn to God.
Open your mind –
Then wait,
Until his Spirit comes
To help you.

2. Repent,
And turn to God.
Open your heart –
Then wait,
Until his Spirit comes
To teach you.

3. Repent,
And turn to God.
Open your soul –
Then wait,
Until his Spirit comes
To cheer you.

4. Repent,
And turn to God.
Open your hands –
Then wait,
Until his Spirit comes
To fill you.

5. Repent,
And turn to God.
Open your eyes –
Then see, and love, and serve
His Son
In all.

💛


References

1. He will give you another Advocate, [Comforter, Encourager, Counsellor] who will never leave you (John 14:16; NLT).

Wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7; NIV).

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26; NLT).

2. The Spirit teaches you everything you need to know (1 John 2:27; NLT).

3. He will give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever (John 14:16; DBY).

4. 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).

5. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow (1 Thessalonians 3:12; NLT).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT, my emphasis).

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.