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.

Image: Himsan, Pixabay


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).

Image: czu_czu_PL, Pixabay

In your presence

1. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to remember you today –
Constantly attentive to your guidance,
The still, small voice within, that shows the way.

2. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to remain in you today –
Constantly rejoicing in your goodness,
And following your Son, so I don’t stray.

3. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to commune with you today –
Constantly confessing my transgressions,
Always quick to listen, and obey.

4. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to unite with you today –
Constantly beseeching your forgiveness,
And serving you in all I do, and say.


References

1. You have brought me into your presence forever (Psalm 41:12; NLT).

Remember the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:18; NLT).

After the fire [came] a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12; NKJV).

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go” (Isaiah 30:21; NLT).

2. Remain in me, and I will remain in you (John 15:4; NLT).

Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16; NIV).

May your faithful people rejoice in your goodness (2 Chronicles 6:41; NIV).

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).

3. Commune with your own heart (Psalm 77:6; KJV).

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

If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just (1 John 1:9; NLT).

Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).

4. Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4; NLT).

Serve only the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).

Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17; NLT).

Thank you

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

1. Thank you, Lord,
For your example,
Patience, goodness,
Care.

2. Thank you, Lord,
For your forgiveness,
Kindness, healing,
Prayer.

3. Thank you, Lord,
For your atonement,
Courage, body,
Blood.

4. Thank you, Lord,
For your salvation,
Guidance, comfort,
Love.

References

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

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

3. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood (Romans 3:25; NIV).

4. He [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him (Hebrews 5:9; NLT). 

You poured your teaching out

My life is poured out like water
(Psalm 22:14; NLT).

1. Lord,
You poured your teaching out:
Stories,
Guidance,
Prayer.

2. Lord,
You poured your blessings out:
Friendship,
Patience,
Care.

3. Lord,
You poured your mercy out:
Pardon,
Healing,
Love.

4. Lord,
You poured your Spirit out:
Anguish,
Pleading,
Blood.

References

1. He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables (Mark 4:2; NLT).

2. Lord you poured out blessings on your land (Psalm 85:1; NLT).

3. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us (Ephesians 1:7-8; CSB).

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

He was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44; NLT).

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death (Hebrews 5:7; NLT).

This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many (Mark 14:24; NLT).