There’s nothing I can do

Can a person do anything to help God?
Can
even a wise person be helpful to him?
(Job 22:2; NLT).

There’s nothing I can do, Lord,
To repay you
For all the love you give me
When I pray.

Nothing I can do, Lord,
To repay you
For your salvation, poured out
Though I stray.

There’s nothing I can do, Lord,
To repay you
For healing me in body, mind,
and soul.

Nothing I can do, Lord,
To repay you
For your forgiveness,
As you make me whole.

There’s nothing I can do, Lord,
To repay you
For helping me each step
Along the way.

Nothing I can do, Lord,
To repay you –
Nothing, but to thank you
Every day.


Thank him for all he has done
(Philippians 4:6; NLT).


If I never lay my cross down


Come to me, all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28; NLT).

Father,

If I never lay my cross down,
If I never pause to rest,
If I never try to pray:
I’ll never bear each test.

If I never stop to listen,
If I never care to seek,
If I never wait on you:
I’ll never hear you speak. 

If I never ask forgiveness,
If I never feel remorse,
If I never start afresh:
I’ll never stay the course. 

If I never spread your Gospel,
If I never praise your grace,
If I never worship you:
I’ll never see your face.

If I never share your body,
If I never taste your blood,
If I never strive to follow Christ:
I’ll never know your love.

Those who wish to boast should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me
and understand that I am the Lord,
who demonstrates unfailing love
(Jeremiah 9:24; NLT).

Sacred source

1. Lord, you are my sacred source,
My Maker, and my God.
You give me life, and breath, and food;
A mind, a heart, a voice.

2. You give me faith; a conscience, Lord;
Remorse, forgiveness, hope.
You give me independence, and invention,
Insight, choice.

3. You give me trials and sorrows, Lord;
You give me joy and peace.
You give me worship, prayer, and praise;
Delight, and comfort, too.

4. You give me help; salvation, Lord,
And your unfailing love.
Then you embrace my soul in death,
For I am one with you.


References

1. Everything we have has come from you (1 Chronicles 29:14; NLT).

He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25; NIV).

2. It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8; NIV).

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10; NLT).

3. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3; NLT).

4. He helps me (Psalm 28:7; NLT).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

I delight

Image: PublicDomainPictures; words: NIV.


🧡

1. I delight
In your forgiveness,
And rejoice
In your great love.

2. I exalt
In your salvation,
Lord, my God,
In heaven above.

3. I submit
To every test,
And undertake
To bless each foe.

4. I commit
To follow you,
My Lord, my God,
On earth, below.

🧡


References

1. Take delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4; NLT).

He forgives all my sins (Psalm 103:3; NLT).

Rejoice, you who worship the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:10; NLT).

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

2. Exalt in his holy name (1 Chronicles 16:10; NLT).

I will reward them with a long life and give them salvation (Psalm 91:16; NLT).

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! (Isaiah 61:10; NLT).

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name (Matthew 6:9; RSV). 

3. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-8; NIV).

4. 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).

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT).

There is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below (1 Kings 8:23; NLT).

You give us a lifetime

Image: Dreampic123, Pixabay


💚

I will be your God throughout your lifetime
(Isaiah 46:4; NLT).

1. You give us a lifetime
To practice your presence;
A lifetime to ask
Your forgiveness, Lord, too.

2. You give us a lifetime
To care about others;
A lifetime to grow,
And become more like you.

3. You give us a lifetime
To bear our cross gladly;
A lifetime to follow
Your steep, narrow way.

4. You give us a lifetime
To thank you for all, Lord;
A lifetime to love you,
Cling tight, hope, and pray.


References

1. He himself gives life and breath to everything (Acts 17:25; NLT).

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).

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

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

3. 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).

The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult (Matthew 7:14; NLT).

4. Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

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).

You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him (Deuteronomy 10:20; NLT).

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence (Jeremiah 17:7; NLT).

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NKJV).

Look for the Father

Image: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay


✝️

1. Look for the Father
Who dwells deep within,
Stirring our hearts
To repent of our sin.

2. Seek the Messiah
Who comes from above,
Sharing our anguish,
Outpouring his love.

3. Search for the Spirit
Who falls from on high,
Comforting everyone,
Hearing each sigh.

4. Turn to the Godhead
Who lives in us all –
Ask his forgiveness,
And welcome his call.

✝️


References

1. You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

Repent of your sins (Matthew 4:17; NLT).

2. I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me (John 6:38; NLT).

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

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

3. The Holy Spirit fell upon them (Acts 11:15; NKJV).

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

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

4. Turn to God (Matthew 4:17; NLT).

In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9; ASV).

We will come and make our home with each of them (John 14:23; NLT).

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).

He calls people (Romans 9:12; NLT).

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.

Look!

Image: Laurent Verdier, Pixabay


🖤

They look, but they don’t really see
(Matthew 13:13; NLT).

1. Look at our world –
At our conflict and strife.

2. Look, for our greed
Is destroying all life.

3. Look at our hate –
We’ve forgotten God’s way.

4. Look, see the truth,
Ask forgiveness, and pray.

Image: Nicole Schüler, Pixabay


References

1. 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. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord (Psalm 14:2-4; NIV).

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

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

3. Hatred stirs up quarrels (Proverbs 10:12; NLT).

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

God’s way is perfect (2 Samuel 22:31; NLT).

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

4. You will look back on all the ways you defiled yourselves, and will hate yourselves because of the evil you have done (Ezekiel 20:43; NLT).

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).

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

Inner space


Image: geralt, Pixabay


💙

1. You alone
Give inner space,
Faith, forgiveness, Lord,
And grace

2. To help us serve you
Every day,
By following
Your humble way.

3. You alone
Give inner peace,
Love, acceptance,
And release

4. From every weakness,
Fear, and sin,
For you, our Saviour,
Live within.

💙


References

1. It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8; NIV).

He forgives all my sins (Psalm 103:2; NLT).

2. You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him (Luke 4:8; NLT).

Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; NLT).

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

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

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

You will stand firm and without fear (Job 11:15; NIV).

You have been set free from sin (Romans 6:18; NIV).

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

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

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

Questions

Image: Francesco Paggiaro, Pexels


1. Why do we long for beauty, Lord,
While you hold out forgiveness?

2. Why do we thirst for luxuries,
While you pour out your blood?

3. Why do we dream of riches,
While you offer us salvation?

4. Why do we yearn to see the world,
While you wait in us all, with love?

 


References

1. Beauty does not last (Proverbs 31:30; NLT).

You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love (Nehemiah 9:17; NLT).

2. You have lived on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter (James 5:5; NLT).

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; NIV).

3. A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God (Luke 12:21; NLT).

If the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it (Romans 11:12; NLT).

4. The younger son gathered together all he had and travelled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living (Luke 15:13; CSB).

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

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).