You’ve probably seen them.  The following quotes seem to be very popular on social media memes these days:

“I’ve been stabbed in the back by those I needed most.  I’ve been lied to by those I love and I have felt alone when I couldn’t afford to be.  At the end of the day, I had to learn to be my own best friend because there’s going to be days where no one is going to be there for me but myself.”

“You know what?  Yes, I have changed.  I’m not as nice as I used to be because I don’t want to be used or walked over.  I don’t trust everyone and tell them my secrets, because behind every fake smile is a backstabber.  I distance myself from people because in the end, they’re only going to leave.  I’ve changed because I’ve realized I’m the only person I can depend on.”

The sad thing is that Christians are spewing these kinds of feelings.

An initial response is an eye roll because of the obvious public pity party.  A better response is one of empathy and spiritual encouragement.  Trust me, it’s easy to throw a pity party and think that there is NO ONE who understands and NO ONE who cares.  NO ONE has ever walked in our shoes and experienced our particular set of difficulties.  So after lashing out and licking our wounds, in an effort to lift ourselves out of the pit, we purpose that NEVER AGAIN will we allow someone else to hurt us.  We think selfishly that withdrawal and self-reliance is the answer.

First, let me acknowledge that the feelings are REAL.  When people you love have hurt and disappointed you, when you feel as though even God is far away, I understand how lonely and despairing that place is.  I have cried buckets of tears over the hurt others have caused.  I have cried out and like the Psalmist, I have asked God, “Why?”  When you are doing your best to serve God and love others and in return you feel like a punching bag, it hurts.  It seems only fair that someone should pay for the injustice.  When the words and actions of others have cut deep and wounded your heart, it knocks you flat. I know it takes time to rebound.  I know that when a godly person gently tries to point out spiritual truth in an effort to help you, it can feel like they don’t understand.  It can feel as though they are judging you when they are not.  God’s truth has a way of working on hearts.  God’s Word heals.  God’s Word restores.

Second, Newsflash!  There’s not a human being alive today who has not felt a measure of pain because of mistreatment, rejection and betrayal.  Do you really think there’s no one else besides you who feels this way?

Fellow believer, God would not have us live life disillusioned, disengaged, cynical and friendless.

Those we love are capable of inflicting deep hurt…and so are we. We’re all imperfect. We will disappoint others. People will disappoint us.

Do you know Someone Who was perfect?  Jesus.

God’s own Son–perfect, sinless Jesus–experienced mistreatment, rejection, and betrayal…to His death. His friends abandoned Him.  His last hope washed his hands of Him and delivered Him over to be crucified.  Can you imagine the depths of His hurt?

Read Psalm 22.  Read Isaiah 53.  Immerse yourself in Scripture when you are feeling dejected.  You will find a Savior who identifies.  Read the Psalms.  Pray them.

Third, as Christians, we are to follow Christ’s example. We are not to let others change who we are.  We are not to cease doing what Christ has called us to do.  Even through mistreatment.

The amazing thing is that on the cross, Jesus asked His Father to forgive all who had put Him there (Luke 23:34). After His resurrection, His words and actions towards His followers showed that He harbored no resentment.  He recognized their human frailties, and loved them anyway.  He is our ultimate example.

Scripture gives us examples of how to endure mistreatment.  Genesis 37-45 lays out the whole story of Joseph, showing us an amazing example of forgiveness.

The Apostle Paul endured unfair treatment and criticism from those he loved and in whom he had invested much time.  Yet he did not cease in the ministry to which God had called him.

Withholding forgiveness will keep you from living the Christian life with joy and purpose.  The Lord’s Prayer, which we consider the model prayer, tells us “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6: 14-15

Colossians 3:12-13 “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Ephesians 4:30-32  “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

1 Peter 2:20 “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”

Fourth, withdrawal is impossible.  There’s work to be done for the Lord!  Take a look at 1 Kings 19.  Here, God meets Elijah in his despair. He cared for him and encouraged him…and then gave him instructions to stop the pity party and get busy.  God directed Elijah to Elisha whom he was to mentor.  There’s a world out there to influence and serve for the cause of Christ.  There are individuals to whom God will ask you to risk opening yourself up to and loving. Moving forward may take some time, but with God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)

Psalms 27:13-14 “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Hebrews 13:6b  “…We confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”

Philippians 3:12-14 has been my “go-to” verse at points in my life when I’ve known it was time to move on.  “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that  I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Oh, and some things–like acquiring justice– are better left in God’s capable hands.  Romans 12:19 “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.”

Finally, depending on yourself is never a good idea. Neither is depending on someone else. We are to throw our dependence on Christ, Who identifies with us and loves us.

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

Deut. 21:6b “… for the LORD your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

John 15:5  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Psalms 55:22a “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you…”

Eph. 6:10 “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”

Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”

 

God is trying to draw you into a deeper relationship with Him through your time of difficulty.  Seek to respond to your disappointments with Christlikeness, allow Christ and the Word of God to minister to your heart, and move forward in your relationships with hope!

“Ephesians 8:25-28 “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”