I started a series on not becoming a victim recently excerpted from my book “Bring’em Back Alive – A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church”. I took a break from that series last week but I thought I had better not leave any potential victims hanging. So here is the last installment in this series.
In the Christian walk hurts are inevitable. Feeling like a victim and deciding to stay there really is optional. The Apostle Paul was a pretty fair theologian and was hand picked to spread the message of Christ. He was not able to avoid trouble and hurts. To the church of Corinth he wrote, “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses.” 2 Cor 6:4 Doesn’t sound like the type of message that would lead to a successful televangelist career. Paul obviously encountered difficulties in his walk with Jesus and he related his appreciation for the support of the Church at Philippi, “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” (Phi 4:14)
Paul, like most of us, desired that his life go without a hitch. But God revealed to him the purpose of troubles. And you will note that there was a small group of people that were there to share in his troubles. Most of us are familiar with Paul’s reference to his “thorn in the flesh”. The rendering in The Message gives an interesting read on Paul’s spiritual growth through difficulties.
“Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! 2 Cor. 12:7 (MsgB)
Paul’s attitude is a pretty solid baseline of spiritual maturity. When you can use the phrase “the gift of a handicap” and actually mean it you have achieved a depth of faith that is exceptional.
We must not become victims from wounds that become spiritually life threatening because we choose non-treatment. If the hurt is genuine and deep then we will explore some steps to move forward toward healing in the coming chapters. But if you have hit the spiritual wall of victimhood my prayer is that you will decide to move forward this day.
There is a story told about the great General Robert E. Lee. He visited a Kentucky home where a bitter and angry woman pointed to what was left of a magnificent tree in front of her house. She was still upset that Union artillery fire had ruined the shape and beauty of the tree. She looked to General Lee to share her anger. She wanted the great leader to condemn the “Yankees” and sympathize with her. Lee paused and quietly said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.” Lee knew that the ravaged tree would only be a constant reminder of her victimhood. He wisely suggested that the reminder be cut out of her life so she could get on with her life. That tree would never be the same and bitterness would not change that fact.
I have often chosen to leave those scarred remnants in my own heart and mind that only remind and upset me all over again. For many of us it is time to emulate the words of Robert E. Lee. “Cut it down, my dear brothers and sisters, and forget it.” Jesus gives us the tools to cut it down.