As I sit here, I repeatedly pray “God, I do not know how much more I can take of this. Please make it all stop; please make it all go away” and yet it does not. Guys, I am sure at some point in your life you have felt this same way. It is so hard to deal with, isn’t it? When you sit there and wish and hope and pray that somehow your circumstance would change, that somehow someway something would be done to save you from the pain of this world? But it doesn’t. Where is God? What are You doing? For me, I ask these questions, questions that reflect my current struggle and what I am going to talk about today: What do you do when others slander you? How do you respond when people speak lies about you? What are you going to do when these things happen? How am I supposed to respond?
Thankfully for us, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet is without sin.” Jesus. This guy had to go through this same thing. And it was even worse! He came to earth, to endure the pain of the entire human population so that He could save us from our sins and allow us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him. And the very people He came to save, turned on Him. The very people who chose to love, spit on Him, slandered Him, called Him the worst of the worst and spoke nothing but lies. I could not even imagine. There is no way that I could handle that! Jesus had full authority and full power to make it all stop, if He truly wanted to He would have been able to cast them all down and prove that He was in fact the Son of God but He didn’t. Why? Because God had a bigger plan in mind. Following Christ’s example in this way is so hard. You must humble yourself to the lowest point, with absolutely no recognition, and take the beating without complaint. Dang. Excited to be a Christ follower yet? I know I am. With the amount of trials I have had to face, I am so glad in Jesus. Without Him, I would not have a purpose for my pain (as I explained in my first blog post). I know that Jesus had to experience what I am experiencing but about a million times worse. He can relate to me. And He can relate to you.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me that they may be as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” Jesus prayed this for us, for those who have hurt him over and over and over again. He knew that these same people He wanted to love would hand Him over to be killed the next day. Let’s be honest, I would have been so pissed. I would have been like “ok, God, dude what in the world? Why am I doing this?” But that’s because I am NOT Jesus. But man, being like Jesus is so hard. It’s looking at situations like this and realizing this is the man I am supposed to model my life after that bring Christianity to reality. It is not fun, it is not easy, it is not painless. Man, I wish you guys could understand where I am coming from when I say these things.
I have had a very difficult semester. I have had to deal with my share of rumors here on campus and back at home. I would be lying if I said it has not hurt me at all, because it has been quite painful. However, I can find joy and freedom in Christ. And I must follow the example that Christ set, which is what I have been doing I can say confidently. But, as a human being, I am far from perfect. I am not Jesus and boy do I mess up. I pursue Him with my life every day and am falling more and more in love with who He is. But that does not take away from the fact that I make mistakes, I sin. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t need a savior! And I am perfectly comfortable with my story. Well, I absolutely have to be now! I did not have much of a choice in that matter and I believe that God will use this as well. God has used every part of my journey to touch people’s lives and I oh so firmly believe that God will use this situation that I am going through RIGHT NOW to bring glory to His kingdom! Guys, I am a sinner and I confess that I have made many, many mistakes and I am humble enough to see my wrongs, especially with everything I am going through currently, but it is beautiful the way we fall apart. When we mess up, when people hurt us, when we have wounds, God can put us back together and our faith is made more authentic, more genuine than ever before. And guys, I want to share something with you. God revealed something spectacularly horrible that helped me to understand why I am going through what I am going through.
I am pleased to announce that I will be pursuing a life of full-time ministry. I will be majoring in Biblical Studies and Theology, with a minor in Youth Ministries. I am excited and terrified that God has called me into this. But now I understand. God has a higher purpose for my life, and as such, Satan has done everything he could to distract me from it (this is why it is spectacularly horrible). And he succeeded unfortunately, up until this point. I have finally started doing good work for the Kingdom and so Satan has started to attack me even harder, using past hurts and past lies to wiggle his way into my mind. Boy, he is good at what he does. But that is what we forget so often as Christ followers! We are in battle every day. Actual battle! “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” I like to replace that word “tempted” with “tested.” For this time in my life, I have found my strength in the Lord, my faith has been firm, and because of it, I have a huge target on my back. How often do we forget this?! These people in my life right now who are slandering me, these people who are hurting me and these circumstances that are scaring me are all a part of Satan’s plot to swerve me off the path God has set me on. Guys, you must remember this! When you are being tried, tested, and tempted in ways you think you cannot bear, know that Satan has no power over you. Put your hope, your trust, your strength in JESUS because He will keep you standing! “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” It’s not in vain! God sees you! God sees the situation you are in and it is not for nothing. Oh, my dear brothers and sisters, choose Christ. Choose to follow His example! It is so hard but there is absolutely nothing in this life that matters more. Put on your armor, get ready for battle. You choose this battle every day when you stick with Jesus and some days it is going to seem as though you just cannot go on anymore but oh my you can! My friends, our God is powerful. Jesus died so we can have direct connection to that amazing power. Do not lose heart!
This is not a post that speaks of my past but my present. These are truths, these are circumstances that are going on right now my friends! I am with you, I understand what you are going through. Find encouragement in Him, find encouragement in that fact. Those who continue to attack you, slander you, hurt you, God sees. God sees the tactics Satan tries to use against you. Beloved, if you can relate to this at all I have one request of you. Read through the book of Psalm. Please. If you read through closely, you will very soon realize that God is a righteous and just God, that He is a God full of love and grace, but also a God full of wrath and faithfulness. Whatever you are going through, I pray that God would reveal the part of His character that you so desperately need right now.
I want to end with this. The book of Psalm has very much played a huge role in my faith during this period of testing and here is one verse I would like you to meditate on as I close. “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)