“If people only knew how I have been cheated, disappointed, abused, and dragged into the chaos of others, they just would not believe it.”
The above is a sad summary of many people’s view of life. In fact, with the glut of social media outlets, many are now able to share personal disappointments, annoyances, as well as their personal commentary on life, with the world. Conversations once limited to the front steps of the church, or down at the local gathering of misery, can happen anytime and with a much larger audience – some, who may “understand exactly what you are going through.”
Having heard or read so many of these laments, it seems that some just never get a decent break. They try to get along with everyone, but the list of harmful, selfish, deceitful, ingrates, and users grows by the day. Even Church is no longer safe. Many see themselves as a hard working decent person who is constantly abused and mistreated and only because of their benevolent naiveté and their gracious reluctance to treat others as they have been treated.
In John 4, Jesus visited a local watering hole in Samaria where He struck up a conversation with a woman who had experienced five bad marriages, was in yet another unhealthy relationship. Her being a woman and alone at a public well suggests even more issues. Then, like so many others in her life, Jesus asks her for a favor… will you give me a drink of water (v.7). However, she soon discovers that Jesus is actually not like anyone she has ever met.
At first, she started talking religion and politics like an out of town preacher (v.9). Then she moved to the topic of worship— the various ideas as to how and where it should take place, and the fact that she came from a long line of devoted religious people. In fact, her great, great, etc. grandfather had actually dug this very well (v.20). (Popular church porch topics of discussion for sure.)
However, Jesus keeps bringing the conversation back to her and her life of disappointment. Uncomfortable at first but by verse 29, she excitedly invites her neighbors to come see a man who told me everything that I ever did. Not, come see a man who really understands how badly I have been mistreated, or a man who understands that I have really bad luck with relationships. No, she said that this Man told me everything that I had ever done. He judged me, spoke the truth, and gave me the choice to find in Him what I had missed in everyone else… and it was wonderful. Sometimes, we too must address the common denominator – in previous marriages, church experiences, jobs, friendships, etc. In order to find lasting peace and healing we must at some point consider the possibility that we may indeed have a “saboteur” in our life. This does not mean that everything is our fault but, until we, like the woman at the well, are willing listen to Jesus and to see ourselves like never before then the constant hostility, toxic emotions, bitterness, and disappointment will only continue.
Pastor Mike Snelgrove
(If you enjoyed this article by Pastor Mike then go to the following link for more posts by him on his blog “The Stone Blog”, http://www.mylogos.info/archives/42.)
After a rather rocky start, David, with a new wife and baby, moved on with his life and had advised others to do the same (II Sam 11:25). Then a Prophet named Nathan delivers an atomic bomb to his front door. Perhaps for the first time King David realizes that besides being a father once again, that he also committed adultery (11:4), intentionally intoxicated his wife’s husband (11:13), had him murdered (11:16), compromised his general Joab’s integrity as a warrior, killed other innocent soldiers who fought with Uriah (11:17), caused the death of Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth who was also fighting with Uriah (11:21), and caused Joab’s messenger to lie (11:23).
The difference between the King we find in II Samuel 11 and the broken sinner starving on the ground, and alienated from his household in II Samuel 12 is amazing. Yes, it is the same man but not really – not ever again. His friends and family had seen him destroy his enemies by the thousands, but this time he has destroyed himself. David looks less like the commander of Israel and more like a sheep at the mercy of his Shepherd’s grace.
Nathan delivered a message from God as a parable about a rich man who thoughtlessly took the only ewe lamb its loving and impoverished owner owned. Nathan said that this poor man let his little lamb drink from his own cup and lay beside her as she slept. Knowing that the rich thug had many lambs of his own already, David was incensed and pronounces a sentence of death on this thoughtless goon immediately. Nathan then informs David “you are the man”.
The impact and clarity that objectivity can provide is infinite. Often used by Jesus Himself, a parable allows the truth to appear in the midst of the fog and haze of personal considerations and special circumstances that we may use to excuse our bad decisions. When David heard the account of his sin without consideration for Bathsheba’s beauty, the stress he was under as a leader, or perhaps the cultural acceptance of such, he was finally able to see what he had done.
“What is this you have done” was God’s question to Eve in Genesis 3:13. Not, “why did you do it” but tell Me what you did. Like her husband, who blamed her, she immediately began to offer “why” by blaming the serpent. The “what question” can purge away the details that we desperately hope others will consider, and allows us to finally see the sin.
The good news – we can then end the self-atoning arguments and allow Christ to be our Advocate before a holy God. Certainly, we should always appreciate the circumstances that affect decisions but real healing and forgiveness can begin when we are broken and transparent. We can now move to a place where we are no longer crushed by the burden of guilt but by the weight of God’s grace and unending love. David later writes, Then I confessed my sin to you… and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)
Pastor Mike S.
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