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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Healing

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Seek peace (Psalm 34:14; NIV).

1. Healing is a painful, lifelong journey:
A pilgrimage
In search of inner peace.

2. I struggle up the path to my next insight;
What joy to reach the top,
And what relief!

3. But every crest reveals a higher mountain,
And more beyond,
As far as I can see,

4. Until, at last, I glimpse my destination:
The hill, Lord, where you died
To set me free.


References

1. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds (Psalm 147:3; NLT).

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage […] They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion (Psalm 84:5,7; NIV).

I search for peace (Psalm 120:7; NLT).

2. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live (Psalm 43:3; NLT).

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand (Philippians 4:7; NLT).

3. The mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all (Isaiah 2:2; NLT).

4. It is high and magnificent; the whole earth rejoices to see it! Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King! (Psalm 48:2; NLT).

They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha […] Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross (Mark 15:22,24; NLT).

Christ […] has died as a ransom to set them free (Hebrews 9:15; NIV).

If the Son sets you free, you are truly free (John 8:36; NLT).

Prayer

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Pour out your heart to him (Psalm 62:8; NLT).

1. Prayer is worship,
Thanks, rejoicing;
Prayer is sorrow,
Fear, and pain.

2. Prayer is spending time
With Jesus,
As he loosens
Every chain.

3. Prayer is mercy,
Love, and healing;
Prayer is sharing
Every sin.

4. Prayer is being one
With Jesus,
So that we can grow
Like him.


References

1. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour (1 Chronicles 16:29; NLT).

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

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

I weep with sorrow (Psalm 119:28; NLT).

He will calm all your fears (Zephaniah 3:17; NLT).

Feel my pain (Psalm 25:18; NLT).

2. Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; RSV).

He wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them (Mark 9:31; NLT).

You have loosed my bonds (Psalm 116:16; NKJV).

He snapped their chains (Psalm 107:14; NLT).

3. His mercy endures forever (Psalm 136:25; NKJV).

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

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

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

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

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).

The best

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My old self has been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me
(Galatians 2:20; NLT).

1. Lord,
You are the best of me:
The only part that’s good.

2. Lord,
You are the best of me:
My flesh, and bone, and blood.

3. Lord,
You are the best of me:
My heart, and mind, and soul.

4. Lord,
You are the best of me:
The Christ, who makes me whole.


References

1. “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good” (Luke 18:19; NLT).

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

2. This is the secret: Christ lives in you (Colossians 1:27; NLT).

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10; NLT).

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them (John 6:56; NIV).

3. You are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you (Ezekiel 36:26; NIV).

Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust him (Ephesians 3:17; NLT).

We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; NLT).

The dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NLT).

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

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).

We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10; NLT).

Wholeness

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Be thankful in all circumstances
(1 Thessalonians 5:18; NLT). 

1. Thank you for my body,
And thank you for my mind,
Thank you for my heart, Lord,
And my soul.

2. Thank you for your care, Lord,
And your forgiveness, too,
Your healing, and the faith
Which makes me whole.


References

1. You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8; NIV).

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

2. If God cares so wonderfully for the flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you (Luke 12:28; NLT).

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

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).

Thy faith hath made thee whole (Luke 8:48; KJV).

I love you

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1. I love you, Lord,
Please help me
By forgiving all my sins,

2. By healing me,
And saving me,
And giving my soul wings.

3. I love you, Lord,
Please help me
By redeeming me from death,

4. And crowning me
With mercy, Lord,
Beyond my final breath.


References

1. I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT).

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy (Psalm 28:7; NLT).

He forgives all my sins, and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:2-5; NLT).

2. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; NLT).

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31; NLT).

3. God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave (Psalm 49:15; NKJV).

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

Flashback (for A.)

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When you go through deep waters, I will be with you
(Isaiah 43:2; NLT).

1. Here comes a flashback,
Always undesired:
My mother, screaming at me
Without restraint.

2. I’m two or three years old,
So I can neither
Understand her words,
Nor guess what lies behind them.

3. I’m at her mercy,
Paralysed by fear;
Helpless, lost, defenceless,
And alone.

4. But here you are, Lord,
Entering the scene.
You pick me up,
Then take my mother’s hand.

5. “Peace, be still!”
These are your only words.

6. You shine with love,
And radiate concern.
Your voice is steady, gentle, calm,
And kind.

7. You look at us
With perfect understanding.
Comfort and healing
Flow from your wounded hands.

8. My mother’s screaming stops.
My terror ends.
Together, we absorb
Your silent joy…

9. And then my flashback fades, but from now on
Every time this memory intrudes,
You will be present, Jesus, at its heart,
Just as you were, in fact, so long ago.


References

4. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11; NIV).

5. He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39; NKJV).

6. His face shone like the sun (Matthew 17:2; NIV).

8. Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21; NLT).

9. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

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

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4; NIV).

Have faith

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

1. Turn to Christ for healing;
Cry out, for he is near.
Have faith that he will help you
When you suffer pain and fear.

2. Ask him to forgive you,
Confessing every sin,
And trust that he will help you
While you try to change within.

3. Bear your cross, and follow;
Let Jesus share your load.
Rely on him to help you
As you walk his narrow road.


References

1. If you are willing, you can heal me (Luke 5:12; NLT).

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34; NIV).

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

Trust in God (John 14:1; NLT).

3. Take up your cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24; NLT).

Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14; NIV).

Anguish (written for M)


How long must I struggle within my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?

(Psalm 13:2; NLT).

1. Son of God,
We cry to you,
For life is very bleak.

2. Have pity on us, Lord,
For we’re in anguish,
Sick, and weak.

3. Touch us,
And forgive our sins,
For we belong to you,

4. And help us
To forgive all those
Who sin against us, too.

5. Heal us, Lord, in body,
And in mind, and heart,
And soul,

6. For you, Lord, are the only one
Whose touch
Can make us whole.


References

1. I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed (Psalm 61:2; NLT).

My spirit is crushed, and my life is nearly snuffed out (Job 17:1; NLT).

2. Jesus, Master, have pity on us (Luke 17:13; NIV).

Lord, see my anguish! (Lamentations 1:20; NLT).

Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony (Psalm 6:2; NLT).

3. Jesus touched the sick man and healed him (Luke 14:4; NLT).

Forgive us our sins (Matthew 6:12; NLT).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NLT).

4. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37; NLT).

5. He forgives all my sins, and heals all my diseases (Psalm 103:3-4; NLT).

He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3; NKJV).

6. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed (Mark 1:41-2; NLT).