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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Dread


Image: Italy Melo, Pexels


When they came to the place called The Skull,
they nailed him to the cross,
[and] Jesus said,“Father, forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing”
(Luke 23,33-4. NLT).

1. My anxious brooding
Generates this dread, Lord:
My mind goes through what happened
Without pause –

2. My friend, the one I trusted,
Turned against me,
Attacking me, and wounding,
Without cause.

3. Every time I think of him
Please prompt me
To pray: “Lord, bless my enemy
With good”,

4. Then leave him in your hand
For my protection,
Whilst you, Lord, heal us both,
With your great love.


References

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

2. My close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me (Psalm 41,9. NIV).

They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause (Psalm 109,3. RSV).

3. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6.28, NLT).

Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (Matthew 5,44. NLT).

4. In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind (Job 12,10. NIV).

My God is my rock, in whom I find protection (2 Samuel 22,3. NLT).

By his wounds you are healed (1 Peter 2,24. NLT).

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15,13. NLT).

Trust

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


Lord,

1. My path is very dark;
I put my trust in you.

2. May I love my enemies
In all I say and do.

3. Help me to forgive all those
By whom I am reviled,

4. And though my heart is broken, Lord,
May we be reconciled.


Father, forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing
(Luke 23:34; NLT).


References

1. If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God (Isaiah 50:10; NLT).

2. Love your enemies (Luke 6:27; NLT).

I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say (Psalm 39:1; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

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

3. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).

My adversaries revile me (Psalm 42:10; NASB).

4. My heart is broken (Lamentations 1:20; 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).

We are sinners

Father,

1. We are sinners –
Please forgive us.
Wash away our guilt
And make us whole.

2. Speak to us,
And help us all to listen.
Heal us, Lord,
In body, mind, and soul.

3. We forgive all those
Who sin against us,
Praying for our enemies
And friends.

4. Help us to bear our cross,
And follow Jesus
Through good and ill, Lord God,
Until life ends.


References

1. We are constant sinners (Isaiah 64:5; NLT).

Forgive us our sins (Luke 11:4; NLT).

Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin (Psalm 51:2; NLT).

2. Let me hear your voice (Song of Songs 2:14; NIV).

O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed (Jeremiah 17:14; NLT).

3. We forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).

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

Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27; NLT).

4. If you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27; NLT).

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

Plague

The Lord’s anger is blazing against them – the plague has already begun
(Numbers 16:46; NLT).

1. Lord,
From this plague,
What lessons can we learn?
That when we shun the poor,
In time, all starve?
And when we heat the world,
In time, all burn?

2. Lord,
From this plague,
What warnings should we glean?
That when we spoil the seas,
In time, all weep?
And when we foul the sky,
In time, all keen?

3. Lord,
From this plague,
What cautions must we heed?
That when we fail the sick,
In time, all mourn?
And when we wound our foes,
In time, all bleed?


References

In the wilderness their desires ran wild, testing God’s patience in that dry wasteland. So he gave them what they asked for, but he sent a plague along with it (Psalm 106:14-15- NLT).

They will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to hep me” (Matthew 25:44-5; NLT).

You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:17; NIV).

Plague

1. This plague won’t end
Until we give up selfishness
And strife.

2. This plague won’t end
Until we start to value
Every life.

3. This plague won’t end
Until we love our foes
And see their worth.

4. This plague won’t end
Until we tend and cherish
All the earth.

5. This plague won’t end
Until we grasp our folly
And our sin.

6. This plague won’t end
Until we seek the Lord our God –
Within.


References

1. Turn from your selfish ways (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds (Habakkuk 1:3; NIV).

2. May the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today (1 Samuel 26:24; NLT).

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

4. The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it (Genesis 2.15; NLT).

God is the King of all the earth (Psalm 47:7; NIV).

5. You, Lord, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you (Psalm 69:5; NIV).

God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner (Luke 18:13; NLT).

6. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6; NIV).

If you seek him, you will find him (1 Chronicles 28:9; NLT).

The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21; KJV).

Touch and heal

This people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see me with their eyes, hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them
(Matthew 13:15; NIV).

1. Lord,
Touch and heal our selfish minds;
Help us to turn to you;
Teach us to love our neighbours,
And to serve in all we do.

2. Lord,
Touch and heal our shallow hearts;
Help us to follow you;
Teach us to love each stranger,
And to serve in all we do.

3. Lord,
Touch and heal our callous souls;
Help us to learn from you;
Teach us to love our enemies,
And serve in all we do.


References

1. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” (Mark 1:41; NLT).

Repent of your sins and turn to God (Matthew 3:2; NLT).

Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45; NLT).

2. 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).

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

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

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark 9:35; NIV).

3. Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you (Psalm 41:4; NKJV).

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).

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

Serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favours the humble” (1 Peter 5:5; NLT).

Want, start, learn, grow


I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.
 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 (John 17:20-21; NLT).

1. Only when we want to love you
Can we love our neighbour, too,
Sensing, Lord, that they, and we,
Are one, and all are one in you.

2. Only as we start to love you
Can we love each stranger, too,
Glimpsing, Lord, that they, and we,
Are one, and all are one in you.

3. Only as we learn to love you
Can we love each foreigner,
Seeing, Lord, that they, and we,
Are one, and all are one in you.

4. Only as we grow to love you
Can we love each enemy,
Grasping, Lord, that they, and we
Are one, and all are one in you.

5. Only when we deeply love you
Can we also love ourselves,
Knowing, Lord, that we are one
With all your people, and with you.

References

1. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Love your neighbour (Luke 10:27; NLT).

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

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

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

5. Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

To acquire wisdom is to love oneself (Proverbs 19:8; NLT).

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

When I sit alone

I will give you treasures hidden in darkness – secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord
(Isaiah 45:3; NLT).

1. When I sit alone, Lord God,
To register my thoughts,
I face, at last,
My suffering, within.

2. When I sit in silence, Lord,
To ponder all I’ve said,
I glimpse, at last,
My enemy, within.

3. When I sit in stillness, Lord,
To weigh up all I’ve done,
I see, at last,
My sinfulness, within.

4. When I sit in darkness, Lord,
To contemplate my life,
I find, at last,
Your presence, deep within.

References

1. When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? (Psalm 13:2; NLT).

2. Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Love your enemy (Matthew 5:44; NET).

3. Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV).

God have mercy on me, a sinner (Luke 18:13; NIV).

4. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).

The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

Christ lives within you (Romans 8:10; NLT).

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