(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 2)

Have people ever been ashamed of you? They have of me.

Now I’m not talking about the kind of shame where you behave poorly and so people are ashamed to be identified with you. I’m talking about situations where you’ve done the right thing, made the right decision but are suffering tremendously in life as a result, maybe in the form of hardship, unemployment, singleness or otherwise.

I’ve often wondered where my so-called ‘friends’ disappeared to and even family and some fellow Church members, when I was going through what I was going through. At one point for example, my Facebook Page was abuzz with activity but as my problems started coming and coming and coming and showing no signs of abating, seemingly, my Page became like a desert. No matter what I would put up on my status or how edifying, people, even family members, avoided it like the plague, without any explanation.

It is something that has bothered me quite a lot over the years and recently, I asked God to help me understand why I had been so ostracized by others, no matter what I did or how hard I tried for peace and harmonious relationships. Why was it that some family members were avoiding my Page? What had I done to them? Why, in real life was I so dismissed, when there was a time that people craved my time and friendship?

Yes I was going through hardship, again and people knew it but I had made the right choice and that is why I ended up in this place of suffering. So why wasn’t I being supported? Why were people not understanding?

Today, I think I finally got the answer or maybe part of it. The thing is people like to identify with what this world defines as ‘success.’ They like to support the people where it seems like lots of good things are happening and happening and happening in their lives, like they have a lucrative and stable job, they are married or are in a relationship (so soon on their way to marriage), have kids, have a healthy bank account and all of the other paraphernalia associated with earthly ‘success’.

I had been abandoned, seemingly because people were ashamed to identify with me and my ongoing years of suffering, especially in public!

After all, I was out of a job…again! I was still single and had no income coming in and every time they took a look at my life, it seemed as if I was in some kind of trouble or suffering in some kind of way.

It was too much for them to bear because people like to associate with those they consider to be winners, not sore losers as my life seemed to suggest I was.

Psalm 49:18 hit the nail on the head when, in talking about the rich, it said that people will praise a person, (not when he does the right thing or does well for others or acts selflessly by making a decision that is pleasing in God’s sight but) when he does well for himself. People like to see you doing well for yourself, ‘well’ often being defined as amassing this world’s riches, goods, having a successful career and making yourself into somebody of influence.

The scripture states of the rich: “…while he lived he blessed his soul and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.”

Believe it or not, people will be ashamed of you, even within the body of Christ and in your own family, where you stand for what is right and trials come as a result. They will be ashamed of being seen by others, like their friends and other Church members, to be identifying with you. Hence the reason for the Facebook Page desertion by even people who have professed Christianity.

I have noticed that because people don’t like to feel left out and they love to go in the same direction that the masses are going, they will tend to like a status or photo that has already generated a good amount of likes, so that they can feel included in what is popular.

Conversely, they will avoid supporting a status or a Page or a photo on a particular Page, no matter how nice, true or uplifting it is, if they realize that nobody else has or not many people have. For, that tells them that the author is unpopular (that’s me), not well liked and so they are ashamed to show public support for the person.

Today, I was reading a portion of scripture and this is where I realized that my ostracism was coming mainly from the fact that people, even in my own family, had gotten to the point where they were ashamed to identify with me because of my endless trials, although most of my trials have come due to me making the decision to deny self and stand with Christ.

That this would happen in the body of Christ and in one’s own family seems difficult to believe but it does! In fact, in 2 Timothy 1, Paul wrote of going through the very thing!

He told Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus, nor of him for the sufferings he was going through for the name of Jesus and commented that some had forsaken him, hinting that they were ashamed of his sufferings and so did not wish to be known to be identified with him.

He told Timothy:

  • “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God…This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:8,15)

In 2 Timothy 4:16-17, Paul also told Timothy:

  • “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

David had a similar experience when he was in trouble and felt overwhelmed. Ironically, when you’re hurting the most is when you get helped the least. When the going gets tough and you are at your lowest, people have a tendency to turn against you, criticize you or abandon you, especially if they are of the view that your sufferings are continuing for too long.

In Psalm 38:11at a low point in David’s life and when his soul was in anguish because he had been chastened by the Lord for his sin, he told the Lord: “My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.”

In Psalm 142:4, David again cried out to the Lord in his sufferings, with words that pierce my soul every time I read them because to a large degree, they are also true of my experience in the valley.

David cried: “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.”

When God chastens, people usually distance themselves from the child of God. However, even when we’ve taken a stand for what is right and try to consistently do so to ensure that our conscience is clear before God, when troubles come our way as a result and we are hurting deeply, support will still be scarce. People close to us may feel ashamed of us because we make them look bad in terms of the image they wish to project in society and that is okay.

We ought not to grow bitter or feel disillusioned. If we know we have taken a stand for God, then we can rest assured, in the midst of our sufferings, that he knows it too.

He saw when we turned our backs on that prospective job that was going to pay $40,000 a month because the work involved compromising our beliefs. He saw when we later walked away from that job that was paying over $25,000 per month because it involved work that required us to deny our Lord Jesus Christ.

He also saw that job interview we declined (while unemployed and wanting to work really bad) because it did not sit well with our spirit, as, among other reasons, they were repeatedly throwing the salary of $26,000 in our faces from the very onset and on the phone before we had even been interviewed, thereby implying that they were buying our allegiance without any room for future dissension, not even on the grounds of integrity.

God saw it all and once we turned our backs on all that for him, he is well pleased, even if those around you are ashamed of you because you did not take the easy way out.

He saw when you refused that extra $1,000 per month in your salary at a job because you found out it was not properly approved and he saw when you insisted respectfully in writing on the very day you found out (to the chagrin of some), that what was overpaid to you be immediately deducted and no such future payments be made to your account.

He saw that you were prepared to suffer ridicule, ostracism, abandonment and shame for the name of Christ and to take up your place of unpopularity outside the camp, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

He saw when you were interviewed by some of the highest dignitaries of the land and did not tailor your answers so as to hide your Christian faith but let them know who you were and how important your beliefs were to you, to which one such dignitary thanked you for your honesty. You knew then and there that that was it, that you would not get the job because you told them upon their enquiry, that your beliefs came first, not the career and that was an answer they did not want to hear. When asked what you would do if the nature of some assignments which came your way went against your beliefs, immediately, through discernment, you knew what that dignitary was alluding to and you answered that you would have to ask respectfully to be recused because it undermined your beliefs which you gave first priority in your life.

You left that interview, although you knew you would not get that very prestigious job, feeling at peace and content because you had stood on the side of your Lord. He had seen what had transpired and was pleased with the stance you took and that meant more to you than getting that job.

God also saw how you were viciously attacked by the enemy’s minions at a place you worked, where they teamed up against you because you belonged to Christ and they hated the fact that you insisted on holding unflinchingly to your integrity, come hell or high water, prepared to pay whatever the price.

He saw when you were harshly screamed at by your boss at a place you once worked because you refused to pretend that a client who had died was still alive and instead spoke the truth and how you insisted on doing what was honest throughout your career, not for the eyes of man but before God because you feared him above all.

He saw when with tears in your eyes and without a clue as to where your next pay cheque would come from, you boldly walked off jobs, twice because to stay would mean to approve the practices which were grossly dishonest and dishonouring to Christ.

God saw it and that is all that matters.

People may not have agreed with your decisions, nor the many others that you made throughout the years but once God agreed, He is a majority.

You will not recant, turn back, give in or surrender to the world’s pressures, simply to appease family, friends, Church folk and people in general, so as to cause them to give you applause, praise and to think of you favourably.

If you must suffer shame as a result of it, then so be it. If you must be ostracized, abandoned, looked down at as a failure in life and criticized because of it, then so be it. If they say you are lazy and don’t want to work because you seek God’s approval before taking up a position because you know, from your past experiences, that the devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy and you know you need the Lord to go before you and with you to help and empower you wherever you go, (which you can only rely upon when you wait on his leading and are within his perfect will), then so be it.

If you refuse to make decisions based on money and this means that your bank account is running low, while the tempers of those close to you are running high because you left that job again! (and it hurts you more than they could ever know or hope to understand), then so be it.

If some days you weep because you wish you could just settle down in a job like normal people, a job that was not highly dangerous, that did not require you to participate in wrongdoing or to go against your Christian beliefs but just one that you could do quietly without any major turbulence, where no demand is made for you to choose a side, that being the side of the world, money, the easy life and comfort or the side of Jesus Christ and if no matter how much you yearn for career stability, smooth sailing in this area does not seem to be the life script that God has written for you, THEN SO BE IT.

As Paul stated in Timothy 1:12 of his calling in Christ:

  • “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I AM NOT ASHAMED: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

Admittedly, there are times in my life where I have suffered as a result of my own evil, rebellious way and because I meddled in other people’s matters. However, when I suffer as a Christian, for standing for what is right and denouncing wrong and walking away from the allures of the world so that I will not dishonour Christ, the Bible states that I should not be ashamed but rather, I should give God glory.

In 1 Peter 4:12-16, it reads:

  • “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, LET HIM NOT BE ASHAMED; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Ironically, you remember telling an Uncle, while around the age of nineteen or thereabout and at the very start of your career, that you would hold on to your integrity, when he tried to warn you of the nature of the profession you were about to enter and had commenced studies for. Never did you guess then, as a naive young girl, the kind of hellish, dangerous situations you would encounter and over a ten year period. Yet God knew.

The past ten years have been for me, what can rightly be described as a nightmare or perhaps that is an understatement. It felt more like a horror movie.

Truth be told, people don’t know and cannot begin to guess the extent of what I’ve been through and the kinds of dangers I’ve faced over and over again but God knows. He is and has always been my source of sustenance, my defender and protector and he is enough.

The stuff I’ve been through will seem so surreal to some, that if I told them the half of it, they’d think that I made it up but God knows I didn’t. I’ve been through stuff that people would figure is for the movies but the most beautiful part of it all has been, that in the deepest of throes, God revealed himself mightily on my behalf and showed himself faithful.

People may be ashamed of me for making the right decisions, sacrificing my own comfort, not being ‘successful’ as the world defines success and walking away from the easy route in order to please Christ but I know that my God was well-pleased with those decisions I made and for me, that is all that really matters.

(Written on 03rd September, 2020)

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