God waits

Image: Arek Socha, Pixabay


💙

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

1. God waits for us
To come to him.
He waits to pardon
All our sin.

2. He waits to bless us
Every day —
And all we need to do
Is pray.

3. God waits to bear
Our pain and fear.
He waits, though he
Is always near.

4. He waits to help
With every task —
And all we need to do
Is ask.

5. God waits to bind
Our wounds, and heal.
He waits to share
In how we feel.

6. He waits, though we
Are only dust —
And all we need to do
is trust.

💙

The Lord longs to be gracious to you
(Isaiah 30:18; NIV).


References

1. You are a God of forgiveness (Nehemiah 9:17; NLT).

2. Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

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

3. He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4; NKJV).

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23:4; NIV).

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

Tell God what you need (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

5. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3; NIV).

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

6. He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust (Psalm 103:14; NLT).

Trust in God and trust also in me (John 14:1; NLT).

Need

Image: Konevi, Pixabay


🧡

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,
and he will give you everything you need
(Matthew 6:33; NLT).

1. God gives us
Everything we have –

2. Not all we want,
But all we need.

3. He satisfies us,
Day by day,

4. With sun, and rain;
With crops, and seed.

5. He sends his Son
To light our path.

6. He gives us birth, and life,
And breath.

7. He hears, and answers,
When we pray,

8. And welcomes home our souls,
In death.

🧡


References

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

2. He will give you everything you need (Matthew 6:33; NLT).

3. He satisfies every need (Acts 17:25; NLT).

4. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45; NIV).

They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry (Isaiah 55:10; NLT).

5. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17; NLT).

I am the light of the world (John 8:12; NLT).

6. You clothed me with skin and flesh, and you knit my bones and sinews together (Job 10:11; NLT).

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13; NLT).

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

7. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help (Psalm 34:17; NLT).

I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain (Psalm 3:4; NIV).

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

You will not leave my soul among the dead (Psalm 16:10; NLT).

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NLT).

Inner space

Image: 3211043, Pixabay


🤎

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

1. My inner space
Is a shining shore,
Where Jesus listens
While I pray.

2. My inner space
Is a forest path,
Where I can talk with him
Each day.

3. My inner space
Is a mountainside,
Where Jesus helps me
Face each test.

4. My inner space
Is a desert cave,
Where I can sit with him
To rest.

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


Image: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay


References

1. He hears my voice (Psalm 116:1; NLT).

2. God talks with man (Deuteronomy 5:24; DBY).

3. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NIV).

The Lord God helps me (Isaiah 50:9; RSV).

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

The dawn of your love

Image: Ulrike Leone, Pixabay


🌕

1. Each day, Lord,
I wake in the dawn of your love,
And pray
In your heavenly light.

2. Each morning,
I wash in the fall of your dew,
Then take up my cross
In your sight.

3. Each evening,
I rest in the shade of your wings,
Then sleep in your arms
All night through.

4. But one day you’ll call
My frail spirit back home —
Then I’ll reunite, Lord,
With you.

Image: MustangJoe, Pixabay


References

1. When I wake up, you are still with me! (Psalm 139:18; NLT).

Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice (Psalm 55:17; NKJV).

I am the light of the world (John 8:12; NLT).

2. Your dew is like the dew of the morning (Isaiah 26:19; NIV).

Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew (Deuteronomy 33:13; NLT).

I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven (Hosea 14:5; NLT).

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

All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7; NLT).

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27; NIV).

4. I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5; NLT).

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

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one (John 17:21; 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.

Come what may

Image: Thomas B, Pixabay


💚

Let whatever comes happen to me
(Job 13:13; CSB).

1. Lord,
I love you, and your Way,
So I will thank you –
Come what may.

2. Lord,
I love you more each day,
So I’ll be joyful –
Come what may.

3. Lord,
I love you, so I’ll pray
And praise you, always –
Come what may.

The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!
(Job 1:21; NLT).

💚


References

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

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

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

2. I pray that your love will overflow more and more (Philippians 1:9; NLT).

Let them rejoice with gladness (Psalm 68:3; HNV).

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

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

With every bone in my body I will praise him (Psalm 35:10; NLT).

Praise him forever! Psalm 111:10; NLT).

Inner space

Image: Avi Chomotovski, Pixabay


💙

1. Lord,
Please give me inner space,
So I can hear your silent voice.

2. Lord,
Please give me inner peace,
So I can make each vital choice.

3. Lord,
Please give me inner light,
So I can tread your narrow way.

4. Lord,
Please give me inner joy,
So I can praise your name all day.

5. Lord,
Please give me inner truth,
Then I will grasp what Jesus taught.

6. Lord,
Please give me inner love,
Then I will serve you as I ought.

7. Lord,
Please give me inner hope,
Then I will never cease to pray.

8. Lord,
Please give me inner faith,
Then I will trust you, come what may.

💙


References

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

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

I choose to obey your precepts (Psalm 119:173; NET).

3. This light within you produces only what is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:9; NLT).

Travel steadily along his path (Psalm 37:34; NLT).

4. May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise his holy name! (Psalm 97:12; NLT).

5. You will give truth to Jacob (Micah 7:20; NKJV).

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

7. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11; NKJV).

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

8. The promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it (Romans 4:16; NLT).

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NIV).

I pray to you

Image: Dorotheé Quennesson, Pixabay


🖤

1. I pray to you,
The Christ, who came
To save us all
From sin and shame.

2. I call on you,
The Christ, who dwelled
On earth, God’s Son,
Unparalleled.

3. I plead with you,
The Christ, who died
For all: my Saviour,
And my Guide.

4. I worship you,
The Christ, who rose
From death; through whom
God’s mercy flows.

💛


References

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

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

2. Call on him now while he is near (Isaiah 55:6; NLT).

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him (1 John 4:9; NLT).

You have no equal (Psalm 40:5; NLT).

3. Plead with the Almighty (Job 8:5; NIV).

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God (1 Peter 3:18; NLT).

He has sent us a mighty Saviour (Luke 1:69; NLT).

He guides me along right paths (Psalm 23:3; NLT).

4. Worship Christ as Lord of your life (1 Peter 3:15; NLT).

He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18; NLT).

God […] called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ (Galatians 1:6; NLT).

Forgiveness

Image: The Betrayal, by Ugolino di Nerio, Yandex

❤️

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

1. Help me, Lord,
To bless all those who curse me,
And to pray for all those
Who berate me.

2. Help me to forgive
All those who hurt me,
And, Lord, to do good
To those who hate me.

3. Help me turn my cheek
To those who bruise me,
And, like you, to love those
Who abuse me.

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


References

1. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:28; NLT).

2. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you (Matthew 6:14; NLT).

Do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27; NLT).

3. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also (Luke 6:29; NLT).

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered (1 Peter 2:23; NLT).

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

We are patient with those who abuse us (1 Corinthians 4:12; NLT).

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).