“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it.” James 4:1-2
The next time you’re terribly angry with someone, ask yourself: What is it that I want that I’m not getting? Similarly, when someone is angry with you, ask them: What is it that you want that you’re not getting? This is also a good one to ask your kids when they’re fighting. It’s a show-stopper.
These questions immediately get to the root of the thing. Be tender and show mercy here, though. Often what someone wants most is very raw and might place them in a vulnerable spot that makes them terrible uncomfortable. So “be kind, tenderhearted…” Ephesians 4:32.
You did it. You’ve hurt someone. The guilt of the situation is weighing down on you but you don’t know what to do. You know you need to confess and apologize but it’s awkward and you don’t know how. So you sweat. You may end up doing nothing and the tension just increases over time.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS A PRIDE KILLER AND A NECK BENDER.
Here are the Seven A’s of Confession, taken from Peacemaking Principles, created by Peacemaker Ministries. They are based on the methods God gave to us in Romans 12:18, Matthew 7:3-5, 1 John 1:8-9, Proverbs 28:13. Take the time to read those because they make all the sense in the world and they really do help!
ADDRESS everyone involved
AVOID if, but, and maybe
ACKNOWLEDGE the hurt
ACCEPT the consequences
ALTER your behavior
ASK for forgiveness
Just a word about each one.
ADDRESS everyone involved – You may need to apologize to more than just one person. How many have been affected by what you did?
AVOID if, but and maybe – When you say,
“I’m sorry IF…..” or
“I’m sorry BUT…” or
“MAYBE I was wrong when……” –
NO! you have just erased the apology. If, but and maybe are called qualifiers in an apology and they negate the attempt to say you’re sorry. Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
ADMIT what you did SPECIFICALLY. Saying “I’m sorry for what I did” is too broad and simply insufficient. You must be willing to own every piece of your offense.
ACKNOWLEDGE the hurt you caused someone. How did you cause pain? You might need to ask exactly how what you did caused pain. There might be hurt you have no idea you caused, so it’s wise to simply ask the other person to help you by telling you this.
ACCEPT the consequences the injured party may feel are necessary. Maybe you can’t be close friends anymore. Maybe you will need to build trust again before the relationship can be fully restored. Even when God forgives us, He always exacts consequences for our wrongdoing.,
ALTER your behavior. What did you do to cause harm – STOP IT!
Don’t do that anymore!
ASK for forgiveness… this step is often left out of the whole ordeal… ask to be forgiven. This is the bowtie that will put the ball in the other person’s court and will help them to move forward by forgiving you.
Sometimes it helps to walk through these steps with someone before you confess it to the person(s) you have hurt. Consult someone you trust and talk about it with them first.
No one is immune… everyone suffers. Here are some ways…
death of friends and family
________________________ you name it
Lisa Terkheurst, in her book It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, says pain has a way of getting our attention like nothing else. When pain steamrolls over you or even camps out on your head, you have some choices: ignore it, phone a friend, suffer in silence or go directly to God. In this shallow dive into my brain, I’m going to question the wisdom of ignoring or medicating your pain.
WARNING: What I’m about to say may stick like a red hot needle in your eye. That’s not my intention, I promise. This is my attempt in asking questions I have yet to fully resolve in my mind yet. And I fully realize there are a few situations like schizophrenia that absolutely must be dealt with using medication.
The stats are alarming
According to some of the latest statistics, use of mood-altering drugs has quadrupled in the last 20 years. As of 2018, as many as 25% are taking a psychiatric medication. We appear to be becoming a culture that cannot handle life anymore with medicating ourselves. We’re more connected than ever, yet more disconnected than ever. Suicide rates have increased by 30% in the last 20 years. In 2016, 45,000 people decided there could never be hope for a better day and they killed themselves. Pain (from whatever source) can drive this kind of hopelessness unless it’s dealt with appropriately.
And we haven’t even talked about the people who use alcohol as a medicating / coping substance. Or marijuana. Or meth. And I’m just not in the mood to do any homework on those numbers but you know they’re high.
In my friend group I’m noticing psychiatric drugs cause a reduction in elation during joyous moments / times and a reduction of depression in sad moments / times. There’s a knocking off of the edges on both ends of the spectrum, leaving more monotone emotional state.
When my sons were prescribed ADHD meds, I noticed this same behavioral response at home under my own roof. We adjusted the meds, trying to find a happy medium, but still I noticed a marked change in personality. The highs and lows of life were gone.
How important is feeling pain?
My question is this: If you can’t feel the raw and true pain of life, how can you respond appropriately? How can you learn from it? How can you grow? If you ignore the warning light on your dashboard or just have the mechanic turn it off, as Terkheurst points out, you’re headed for a major breakdown. And isn’t that what psychiatric medications are intended to do, to numb the pain, turn off the warning light? These natural, God-given responses to life’s painful stimuli are meant to cause you to check under the hood of your life. Something’s wrong here, people.
Another kind of pain… Holy Spirit conviction
When you’re under conviction by the Holy Spirit of God, how does that make you feel? Lollipops and unicorns? If you’re like me – it hurts. That’s why it’s called conviction for heaven’s sake! A “good” sermon is one that causes pain, but it’s the good kind of pain. It’s the pain of freedom that comes when God has turned on the lights to reveal some of your sin to you. No one likes that, but sometimes I refer to it as “hurting so good” because I feel and know it’s the beginning of healing; sin has the greatest power in the dark, where it’s hidden… no one knows. Liberation begins when Someone breaks the chains holding us in slavery.
But how will you feel the pain of conviction if you’re medicating it?
“The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing.”
Currently, I’m looking at several dear friends in the midst of deep and troubling pain. Two in particular. One of those friends is a Christian with rock-solid faith and theology. The other is not.
So yesterday, after hearing about the deep pain of the non-Christian friend, I found myself deeply considering the subject of pain brought on by just being alive in this world. Brokenness is EVERYWHERE. And so I began to think… I run around with this lofty idealistic view of Jesus and how He really makes a difference in everything. Do I really believe that? And if I do, how exactly DOES Jesus make a difference?
So I made a list.
The good news. Conversion means….
Conversion to Christ means that God makes you into a whole new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus told his religious leader, Nicodemus, it’s called being born again. (John 3:3).
Conversion to Christ means you can see the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3). This one I believe I may have misinterpreted for most of my life… I’ve always thought Jesus meant when I die, I get to “see” the “Kingdom of God”. But what if Jesus was saying that prior to being born again, I was blind to everything in the Kingdom of God currently, historically and in the future? What if he was telling Nicodemus, “you don’t understand because you don’t know ME? You can’t see anything rightly unless you’re born again.”
Conversion to Christ means you get a new mind and a new mindset (Romans 12:2). I don’t think the way I used to think and testing (that horrible, nagging, daily grind of pain from living this life in a broken world) has a Godly way of transforming me out of the way I used to think and into thinking according to the will of God.
Conversion to Christ means I’ve been forgiven of my disobedience to God and I am no longer destined to condemnation. And my mind, which used to be set on selfish ambitions is now set on things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-8). Life-changing adjustment here, folks.
Conversion to Christ means I’m not a slave to the power of disobedience to God anymore, but I’m free from the power of disobedience. I don’t have to sin anymore, and Jesus has paid the price of my sin so that when God looks upon me he sees a precious child and heir of the King, not a wretched, evil child of wrath. (Galations 4:4-7, Romans 6:7-11, Ephesians 2:3)
Conversion to Christ means I can get a grip mentally and emotionally on all the crap that happens to me. Through Christ, I can handle it. (Phillipians 4:13) I can now make right decisions, no matter how much it hurts.
Conversion to Christ means I have a whole new perspective because my nose isn’t pressed firmly and painfully into the tree bark anymore. I can see the whole forest… I can get outside of my pain and suffering to see that, at worst, it’s “light and momentary affliction.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Conversion to Christ means I can withstand the pain and heartache of this world. (Matthew 7:24-27). Storms come and rage… the rain falls, the floods come and beat on our houses.. But those who are converted to Christ live in a house that will not fail.
Conversion to Christ means I am spiritually alive and pleasing to God. (Ephesians 2:1-10). What can spiritually dead people do to please God? NOTHING.
I could go on and on and on and on… this list is not and could never be exhaustive. These are but drops in the bucket to all the Scriptures God has communicated to us about the benefits of genuine Christianity. The benefits are supernaturally endless in their scope and time.
The bad news
Just as all the benefits of being converted to Christ are endlessly wonderful and beneficial, so the antithesis is true. Being outside of Jesus’ love and forgiveness means you’re an orphan. Lost. Worn out. Destitute. Hopeless. Helpless. Independent. Alone. Fearful. Guilty. Shameful. Prideful. Arrogant. Grievous. Disobedient. Dishonorable. Confused. Spiritually dead. An enemy of God.
So what about you?
After all this, I think I’ve answered my own question. What difference does Jesus make? All the difference in the world.
What about you? Is this new information for you? Are you weary of trying to handle the heavy load of life and its pain all by yourself? Take heart, my friend. You were NEVER created by God to carry the burden alone. Please call me and let’s talk about how to turn your life over to the One who wants to show you the Kingdom of God.
Sometimes God says no. In my 51 years of life, I’m positive God has said no to me a gozillion times. And I don’t like it, not one bit. I want what I want when I want it and no later. After all, it’s not like I’m asking for anything bad… I’m asking for good things like… well, I’m not gonna waste your time with all the good things I ask God to provide. So just trust me – they’re all good. But what if the “good” things I’m asking for – or maybe even assuming He’s going to give me – aren’t in His plan?
It turns out I’m not the first person to hear God say “no”.
God told Moses no, too
A long time ago, after Moses had spent 40 infuriating years leading the nation of whiny, petulant Israelites around in the desert, God put the kibosh on allowing him to lead them across the finish line into the land God was giving them. (Reading the Book of Exodus tells that whole story). Yeah, many years earlier Moses had a moment of disobedience and usurped God’s authority, apparently something God took very seriously, and He disallowed Moses from going into the Promised Land. What He did do was lead Moses up onto a mountain (Nebo) and let him set his eyes on the place where he couldn’t go. And then Moses died.
Fast forward over a thousand years later to the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36), located in the very place Moses was not allowed to go, and who do we see? Moses. Yep, there he is, 1400 years AFTER God told him he could not go into the promised land, standing on another mountain conversing with Jesus.
What’s the bottom line?
So, dear friends, a word of encouragement; just because God tells you ‘no’ today for something you greatly desire and have worked hard to acquire, doesn’t mean it will stay a “no” forever. God has a very specific plan and it will all be accomplished according to His will, not ours. And in case you haven’t remembered in quite a while, God is perfect. His decisions are perfect. He never makes a bad choice. Is that true of you?