Lessons Forged in the Crucible of Misery
The comment that came out of left field one day left me wounded for the entire weekend. I wasn’t just offended. It was a kick-in-the-gut, you’re-not-too-hot sort of insult that left me clutching my stomach.
Now that a couple weeks have passed, I marvel at the way God led me through this crisis of confidence.
First, it happened the same week I had been reviewing the theme of forgiveness in the devotional our men’s group returned to recently. Even though we’ve been through it several times over the years, it’s always remarkable how different Bible verses or related readings spring to life, as if I had never seen them before.
The first that caught my eye came from Luke 6:38 (NKJV): “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
We hadn’t been Christians very long before this verse appeared during a church offering solicitation. And, in numerous other giving appeals amongst other ministries and parachurch organizations.
Yet when examined in the context of this particular reading (verses 37-42), it is quite apparent this “giving” has everything to do with forgiveness and nothing to do with money.
Not necessarily an earth-shattering revelation, particularly for any Bible scholars (which I’m not), but at this particular time I needed a new appreciation for the Luke passage.
Learning is always painful, which means we rarely welcome it. We prefer going through life on cruise control, when in reality it’s during times of economic deprivation, self-doubt, or other adversity that we grow the most.
In this instance, here are a few things I emerged from this crisis appreciating:
• I’m never too old to learn
Last year I edited a book in which the author mentioned one of the drawbacks of seniors in church life is their attitude that they can’t learn anything from young people, especially if that person is the pastor. Not only does that handicap the pastor’s ministry, such an outlook is faulty at best.
• In times of need, a friend is a treasure
When I called a friend to discuss my dilemma, he assured me there was no basis to the remark and that it reflected more on the person who made it than me. As the old saying goes, “Thanks. I needed that.”
• Never be afraid to ask for help
It’s too long to explain all the details, but when I asked for some assistance because of the dilemma that had prompted the insult, I got more help than expected. Indeed, the day I received it, my outlook brightened, my spirits revived, and I felt ready to tackle new challenges.
• Forgiveness is a gift
Whenever I feel hurt, I’m quick to defend myself and nurse my wounds, arguing silently that I did nothing to deserve such treatment. Yet it was during my blue funk that the Lord reminded me of this verse: “Do not curse the king, even in your thought; do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter” (Ecclesiastes 10:20).
The relevance: though I may try to pretend otherwise, I too have been guilty of criticizing leaders or making off-hand remarks. Even if no one hears them, I am guilty of inflicting wounds on another. Which makes me glad that God forgives me, just as I must forgive others.