Bright star

Image: Andrew Coles, Pixabay


1. Bright star,
Bright Son,
Bright life,
Bright light.

2. Dark dread,
Dark prayer,
Dark deed,
Dark night.

3. Black scorn,
Black pain,
Black death,
Black day.

4. New faith,
New hope,
New love:
New Way!


References

1. The star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was (Matthew 2:9; NLT).

A child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life (John 8:12; NLT).

2. Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44; NIV).

If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

The traitor, Judas, had given them a pre-arranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss. Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him (Mark 14:44-46; NLT).

3. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!” (Matthew 27:42; NLT).

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).

Jesus called out with a loud voice […] “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” […] Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last (Mark 15:34,37; NLT).

By this time was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock (Luke 23:44; NLT).

4. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:27-9; NLT).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3; CSB).

I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other (John 13:34; NLT).

Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit (Romans 7:6; NLT).

Be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him (Colossians 3:10; NLT).

Loving you

Image: Sebi6000, Pixabay; wording: RK


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

1. Lord,
I share my joy with you,
Loving you with all my mind,
Worshipping your holy name,
And praising you, for you are kind.

2. Lord,
I share my fear with you,
Loving you with all my might,
Putting all my faith in you,
And clinging to you day and night.

3. Lord,
I share my sin with you,
Loving you with all my heart,
Trusting in your clemency,
And knowing you will take my part.

4. Lord,
I share my pain with you,
Loving you with all my soul,
Resting in your tender arms,
And trusting you to make me whole.

 


References

1. Love the Lord your God […] with all your mind (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Your name is holy! (Psalm 99:3; NLT). 

How kind the Lord is! (Psalm 116:5; NLT). 

2. Love the Lord your God […] with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5; RSV).

Your mercy is so plentiful (Psalm 69:16; NLT).

I cling to you (Psalm 63:8; NLT).

3. Love the Lord your God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5; RSV).

He forgives all my sins (Psalm 103:2-4; NLT).

4. Love the Lord your God […] with all your soul (Deuteronomy 6:5; RSV).

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you (Deuteronomy 33:27; NLT).

His hands make whole (Job 5:18; NKJV).

My dilemma

Image: 412designs, Pixabay


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

Your example

Image: downloadwallpaper.org, Yandex


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

1. Thank you, Lord,
For your example:
Silence
In response to blame.

2. Thank you, Lord,
For your example:
Courage
In the face of fear.

3. Thank you, Lord,
For your example:
Pardon
As you bowed to pain.

4. Thank you, Lord,
For your example:
Help me, please,
To persevere.


References

1. When the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent.“Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response (Matthew 27:12-14; NLT).

2. If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

3. 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).

4. You need to persevere, so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36; NIV).

I look to the Lord for help (Micah 7:7; NLT).

Oneness

Image: congerdesign, Pixabay


Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

Lord,

1. May I be one mind with you,
And share in all your joys and tears.

2. May I be one heart with you,
And share the way you faced your fears.

3. May I be one soul with you,
And share in all your pain and loss.

4. May I be one flesh with you,
And share your death upon the cross.


References

1. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NKJV).

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15; NKJV).

2. I will give them one heart (Jeremiah 32:39; NLT).

If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

3. The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17; NLT).

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

4. Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:14; NLT).

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:10; NLT).

In my heart

Image: Camila Quintero Franco, Pixabay


Whatever is in your heart determines what you say
(Matthew 12:34; NLT).

1. Whatever’s in my heart, Lord God,
Determines what I say.

2. When I’m feeling crabby
I speak bitterly all day.

3. When I’m feeling angry
I abuse those I address,

4. When I’m feeling gloomy
I make others feel depressed.

5. When I’m feeling troubled
I ignore my neighbour’s pain,

6. And when I’m feeling needy
People ask for help in vain.

7. Instead, I dump my feelings
On to them, before they flee,

8. While, lost in my self-pity,
I cry: “Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!”


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).

Stripped away

Image: Belinda Cave, Pixabay

1. When all my faith and joy
Are stripped away,
You alone, in darkness, Lord, remain.

2. When all my trust and hope
Are stripped away,
You alone are here to share my pain.

3. When all my way of life
Is stripped away,
You alone, Lord, grasp that I’m bereft.

4. When all I thought I had
Is stripped away,
You alone are all that I have left.


References

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

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

3. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away (Job 1:21; NIV).

4. Even what they think they have will be taken from them (Luke 8:18; NIV).

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5; NLT).

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

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need (Psalm 23:1; NLT).

At least (#1 of 2 linked prayers)

Image: Thomas Mühl, Pixabay

He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out the flickering candle
(Matthew 12:20; NLT).

Lord,

1. When I can’t help someone,
May I, at least,
Not accidentally hurt them.

2. And when I accidentally hurt them,
May I, at least,
Not add to their distress
By failing to grasp
The damage I’ve done.

3. And when I fail to grasp
The damage I’ve done,
May I, at least,
Not add to their pain
By blaming them
For their response
To what I said,
Or did,
Or failed to do.

When I try to pray

Image: Karen Arnold, Pixabay

Father,

1. When I try to pray
In vain,
Wearied by distress,
Or fear, or pain,

2. Help me, instead, to rest
Safe in your hand,
Because you care,
And always understand.


References

1. The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; RSV).

I am weary from distress (Psalm 57:6; NLT).

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

The Lord will hold you in his hand (Isaiah 62:3; NLT).

He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7; NIV).

God understands all hearts (Proverbs 24:12; NLT).

Prayer

Image: Pixabay

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).