My dilemma

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Introduction

Two people have hurt me badly in the last few weeks. In both cases, after some thought, I was honest with those involved, expressing my response as lovingly as I could. However, they both reacted with anger and blame. Sadly, offering to meet for reconciliation has brought no response.

Since then, I repeatedly go over all that happened, which generates a constant, painful, and exhausting sense of dread.

The crux of my anxiety is that when someone hurts me, I don’t know whether I should speak out, or say nothing. Each approach has different consequences.


What did Jesus say and do?

As always, I look for guidance in Jesus’ teaching and example. However, he taught, and displayed, both outspoken and silent ways of responding to hurt and injustice, which I find confusing.

Until his arrest, Jesus always spoke the truth in love when people criticised or insulted him. He was, in fact, very direct. His honesty made him a lot of enemies, and contributed to his death.

After his arrest, Jesus said very little, no matter what he was accused of, and how he was treated. This puzzled his captors, perhaps antagonising them even more.

Over the years, I’ve tried both approaches. What happens when I follow Christ’s example in these two, very different, ways?


A. Speaking out

When I “speak the truth in love”, it almost always backfires. The person I’ve been honest with turns on me, angrily blaming me for what I said, even though it was their own hurtful behaviour towards me that I spoke about. I then react to their hostility with my characteristic chronic dread.


B. Saying nothing

When I say nothing, I simply allow the other person to hurt me, absorbing the pain and damage, just as I did with my emotionally abusive mother. Without feedback, of course, there is a risk that they may continue to damage me. This makes me feel helpless and powerless, worsening my chronic depression.

Either way, I can easily end up feeling as if life is not worth living.


Forgiveness

Fortunately, Jesus is absolutely clear that whether we speak out or say nothing, we should always forgive those who hurt us. This applies even if they never recognise what they have done, and never say they are sorry.


Conclusion

When people hurt me, I ruminate endlessly about how I responded, and what went wrong. Whether I speak out or say nothing, the outcome is equally damaging for my mental health.

Worse still, I also feel guilty for having “caused” the other person to strike back angrily at me, and to hate me from then onwards.

So, when someone hurts me, should I speak out, or say nothing? I still don’t know the answer to this question, which has plagued me all my life. All I can do is to pray for those who hurt me, asking God to guide and heal us all.

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References

Introduction

Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me (Psalm 41:9; NLT).


What did Jesus say and do?

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NIV).

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33; NIV).

The leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise (Mark 15:3-5; NLT).

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).


A. Speaking out

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV.

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


B. Saying nothing

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7; NLT).

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

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me (Psalm 42:7;NIV).

Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child, like a baby who never lives to see the light? (Job 3:16; NLT).


Forgiveness

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there [and] Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:33-4; NIV).

When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25; NLT).


Conclusion

Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27-8; NLT)

The Lord of Hosts […] is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance (Isaiah 28:29; NKJV).

He will heal us (Hosea 6:1; NLT).

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Consequences (#2 of 2 linked prayers)

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Choose today whom you will serve
(Joshua 24:15; NLT).

1. Consequences flow
From from how I handle
All I feel.

2. Every choice I make
Brings others pain,
Or helps them heal.

3. Every course of action
Leaves me feeling bad,
Or good.

4. So help me, Lord,
To grow like you,
And choose your Way of Love.


References

1. You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences (Isaiah 47:7; NLT).

2. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart (Luke 6:45; NLT).

3. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these (Galatians 5:19-21; NLT).

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).

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).

Follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 14:1; NIV).

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged (1 Corinthians 13:4; NLT).

Consequences (#1 of 2 linked prayers)

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Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ
(Ephesians 5:2; NLT).

1. Consequences flow from all I do, say,
Think, and feel.

2. Every act can wound, or soothe,
Can devastate, or heal.

3. Every word can hurt, or comfort,
Shatter, or restore.

4. Every thought can urge me
To despise, or love still more.

5. Every feeling tells me
To break contact, or renew.

6. Lord, please help me day by day
To grow much more like you.


References

1. They must bear the consequences of their sins, declares the Sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 44:12; NIV).

2. You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences (Isaiah 47:7; NLT).

Do everything with love (1 Corinthians 16:14; NLT).

3. What you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45; NLT).

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

4. Out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person (Matthew 15:19-20; NIV).

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged (Luke 6:37; NLT).

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NIV).

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5; NIV).

5. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart (Luke 6:45; NLT).

6. O Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day (Psalm 88:13; NLT).

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).

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him (Colossians 3:10; NLT).

This plague

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3; NIV).

1. This plague is not a punishment
For every selfish deed;

2. Instead, it is the consequence
Of all our careless greed.

3. This plague is not a penalty
For every foolish choice;

4. Instead, it is our reckoning,
For we’ve ignored God’s voice.


References

1. Why do you continue to invite punishment? Isaiah 1:5; NLT).

From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed (Jeremiah 6:13; NLT).

2. You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences (Isaiah 47:7; NLT).

You careless ones will will suddenly begin to care (Isaiah 32:10; NLT).

3. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins (Ezekiel 22:31; NLT).

They have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the Lord their God (Jeremiah 3:21; NLT)

4. How strong and courageous will you be in my day of reckoning? (Ezekiel 22:14; NLT).

If only you would listen to his voice today! (Psalm 95:7; NLT).