Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pursuing Peace Pain

Peace may costs you and me some pain if we are utterly obedient to the Lord.

"So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Rom 12:18). Hebrews calls us to "pursue peace with all men" (Heb.12:14). According to Jesus Christ, if we remember someone has something against us, we are to actually leave our offering at the altar and go be reconciled with our brother (Matt. 5:24). Our inter-personal relationships are a primary concern to the Lord. The Bible says, "pursue peace with all men." "Pursue" means we aggressively take the initiative to make things right. It means we act on behalf of heaven rather than allow another’s anger to serve the purpose of hell.

The truth is that hurting people will likely hurt you. I'm a praying listener. Folks know me from much church work, speaking in women's conferences and through my proteges. I get calls for prayer from folks I don't know or not very well. Honestly I cringe when a new one calls saying, "Do you still pray with folks?" Now, the interpretation for that call is "I'm in big trouble. Someone close to me has hurt me greatly and I'm getting no relief from my church, my family and everyone else praying for me." I always answer "Oh, yes, what' s going on?"

Then the hurt pours out over the phone and I hurt with them. The greatness of their circumstances always baffles me for answers. Generally I have no idea what can be done and within myself I know there is no help. As we begin to "walk" together to see what Father God wants and we begin to see how He wants us to move by His lead. Usually something will trigger a tender spot and the hurt one will usually lash out at me before we get to sure peace and solutions. I have been in this place enough times to know that this is part of intercession. As I lay myself down so that others can get close to Christ; I may well get "hit."

I've been the one hurting; so I know how raw life gets when the pain is great. But I've got to tell you every time another stranger calls and begins the call with "Do you still pray with folks in trouble?" I always my frail human self I brace myself for the ride. I'm an open, honest transparent person. I believe in God's soverienty and power. I don't give much space for whining and continual self pity and doubt of God's power and resources. So it's a given that hurting people have called the gentler more merciful prayer warriors before they look me up. But when they are getting nowhere in their pursuit of help and peace; they dare to call the straight talking prayer lady. Most know I have a common refrain: forgiveness of the one who has caused the pain, and seeking Biblical answers. When they want an answer solely based on their emotional feelings I work diligently to help them realize that "feelings rx" will probably not be where their best longterm solution lies.

This Christmas season I am focusing on pursuing peace to honor Jesus Christ, Messiah...Prince of Peace. But I feel a need to be clear about the possible serious hazards of obeying God to become His peacemakers. When I respond to deeply offended folks, they sometimes get repulsed by the thought of unconditional love for someone who has greatly hurt them. Scripture tells us, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19).

If a person has been hurt, they will need trust to be restored and this process of initiating trust can actually be painful to both the hurting one and the helper. As a Christian helper I get my licks when the wounded may lash out at everybody. I'm the closest person available and I realize it isn't personal, but it can still hurt. In my own ineptness I question God in picking me to help some folks when we initially begin our journey. In time, I see that my resilence, compassion and empathy qualify me to join Him in helping them.

A few years ago we rescued a 9 month old dog that had had several owners. He was a big dog and he was extremely energetic. A trainer felt he was a great dog that just needed consistent handling. We had had a near break in so we brought the dog home. Oh, he tried my patience to the limit, but as a few weeks went by and he still had a home, he calmed down and has become the dearest pet we've ever had. For a few years he wouldn't let you touch his head; but now he loves his face and ears scratched. He actually annoys me. Maybe this is a poor example, but I think some people who have been treated poorly by authorities and those close to them are like my Oz. "Dont' touch me!!" seems to be what they are crying out.

What looks like aggression, so often is fear. Love always overtakes fear. Someone will have to put up with their wounded "attitude" over a period of time and show consistent loving strong presence to earn their trust. An old saint once told me the scripture "many are called, but few are chosen" is evident because the chosen show up. Sometimes the greatest Christian things we can do is "show up," be available; no matter what. Sometimes the loving consistent "showing up" is all it takes for the severely wounded to believe God may care about them. When they have one speck of hope; they are empowered to believe; when they believe, faith will bring them out of their hurt.

I read of many glamorous stories in the Christian ministry world. I find Christ in action is usually not so pretty. Someone has to be willing to be wounded and love without love immediately coming back. When the wounded wound us we do not retaliate; then trust is won. Isn't this what God has done for us? His love paid the maximum price. Jesus came to me, but I didn't see Him as Savior at first. My sins and hard heart crucified Him. He didn't retaliate.....He forgave me. I am amazed at His many times I expect harsh judgment and His Love is His kind answer. Romans 2:4 even tells me that His kindness actually led me to repentance. He shows me over and over that He is trustworthy, merciful and loving. Yes, like Oz lets me touch his face, now I trust God. I don't need to hide or shield somethings from Him. Oz loves me stroking his face........he knows I'll never hurt him as someone else hurt him in the face. No matter what others may have done with my trust in them; God can always be trusted. He's not the last one I call on...........I call out to God, first in all things.

"Lord, Show us how to pursue peace that pleases You. As You have been to us, so may we be toward others, even those who are hostile to us out of their pain. Establish trust in You so that Your love can heal them. We are willing to allow ourselves to be wounded, repeatedly if necessary, in pursuit of healing relationships. We pray to be trustworthy in deed and word. Whether we face divisions in families, churches or work places, show us how we can establish trust; and healing can begin. Amen"


sailorcross said...

Wow!! Such a powerful post!!

I just received a quote yesterday from Heartlight that fits right in with this:

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

-- C. S. Lewis

I totally agree with you--dealing with the wounded (of which we have been) involved the re-establishment of trust. Once trust is broken--time and time again, over and over--it takes so much rebuilding, and yes--pain--to be able to trust again.

Isn't it wonderful to know that we can go to God with all our fears, our troubles, even our trust issues--Please, God--help me to be able to increase my faith and trust in YOU!! And by increasing our trust in Him, we gradually will be able to increase our trust in others.

He already knows, and yet still loves us, cares for us. STILL STANDING AMAZED!!


Pinkshoelady said...

Hi Kay,
Wow! Your words were a direst answer to prayer this morning. My husband has been hurt and that of course makes me angry and hurt too.
I was crying out to God this morning wanting so bad to take matters in my own hands...begging God to let me tell certain people things so that these two people would get fired. And even though they deserve to be fired, I could not get peace. Especially when my husband says we must not...Let God deal with them.

Your words so broke through my angry and hurting heart!

Instead of going hillbilly on them or contacting influential people...I will pray for these two people who are so hurt that they would lash out at my husband for doing ministry.

Can we meet one day soon? Not to dump this on you. This is God's now. But I really do want to meet ad talk to you face to face. Will you have time after Christmas? Actually, I am free until the 24th and will be free from the 26th to the 31st. Would one of those days work for you? If not then we will do it soon.

Thank you again for this timely post! I feel as if God used your words to speak directly to my struggling heart.

Love you my friend!

© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.