54. AFFLICTED AND TOSSED WITH TEMPEST
Today, like I have felt on some other occasions, I felt overwhelmed by life’s issues and problems. I was tired of being attacked, insulted, discouraged, put down, rejected, ostracized, badmouthed, disrespected, treated like scum, wished evil by some and envied by others, misunderstood and hated upon, to the point where everything I did came under a radar of people’s disapproval, making me feel like I just needed to freeze at one point and not even sneeze or breathe.
I was tired of being oppressed, suppressed, ignored, disregarded, disrespected, treated like a dog and without dignity, by people around me, that I could not get away from, until and unless God made a way of escape for me. Like David, who at one point, longed to be like a dove, so he could fly away from it all, I have as well, longed to be free from the oppression and suppression I was being made to endure, for many years.
David said in Psalm 55, while praying to the Lord, putting into words, EXACTLY how I feel:
- “Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. AND I SAID, OH THAT I HAD WINGS LIKE A DOVE! FOR THEN WOULD I FLY AWAY, AND BE AT REST. LO, THEN WOULD I WANDER FAR OFF, AND REMAIN IN THE WILDERNESS. Selah. I WOULD HASTEN MY ESCAPE FROM THE WINDY STORM AND TEMPEST.”
Some days I’m okay but other days, the weight of all of the harassment, ridicule, misunderstanding and bad treatment gets to me. Knowing that you are generally unloved and that nobody understands or really cares for what you are going, is hard. Knowing that nobody is rooting for your spiritual success and that your pain, sometimes intense, is lost on those around you, who, by their actions, make it worse and demonstrate consistently that they don’t care in the least, not even to listen to you, can make you feel so heavy on some days, that it is a fight just to go on. You just want to give up because life seems like a drudgery and to throw your hands in the air.
Personally, I am tired of feeling stuck in an abusive environment. I am tired of being treated like scum, like I don’t matter in the least and as if I am not even breathing and therefore, don’t exist. I’m tired of trying to reach out and embrace people in love but yet to still not be liked, to be looked down at, scorned and rejected. How am I to go through life without being loved by others and where I am treated as if my existence was a mistake and that I am not even alive but have long died? How am I to cope with the sea of rejection I face ever so often, no matter how hard I try to win people over and to not do anything that would result in any kind of disharmony?
The more I try, it seems, for peace, the more trouble comes. The more effort I make to reach people and to improve relations, the more I am met with coldness and the more my actions are misunderstood, the enemy impugning evil motives to whatever I say or do. The more I try to be friendly to some people, the more they envy, ridicule, dislike or badmouth me.
The reality of the matter is that no matter what I do, I am generally not liked and am considered to be not at all important, not even important enough to be treated like a human being. I was even told by someone some time back, that people don’t like to be around me and that they merely tolerate me.
Needless to say, this led to a torrent of tears in private. I could not believe that someone would be so nasty as to say such a thing to me and that person has never apologized or shown any remorse. It was not very different from a comment that someone made years before that, to the effect that it was only so much that this world would be able to take of me. The statement was so sudden and in my view, uncalled for, that I was shocked. For, the person who said it was someone that had “professed” Christianity. The one who made the prior statement as well, was a “professing” believer.
To this day, I am still in shock at what I was told but I believe that the devil put it into the minds of these two people, to say what they suddenly blurted out to me. They are not alone either. Other people have come up to me, many times, unprovoked and said nasty things to me, even when I have been minding my own business and trying my best not to cause any kind of upheaval.
These attacks, along with all of what I have been going through, makes me jittery and nervy at times. Me just being myself, seems to upset people, which I have never understood. I search and search to see what I may have done in some situations to provoke what they say to me but although not perfect and at times, I have done wrong, on many occasions, even when doing nothing, people go out of their way to approach, harass and be nasty to me.
All that I have been going through, weighed heavily on my mind and heart this morning, even as I attended Church Service. I was hurting so much and I knew in my heart that, while the word “love” is mentioned often, nobody really cared. People only seemed to care about creating more pain for me and ridiculing, insulting, badmouthing and thinking the worst of me.
During the service though, I was reminded, when a portion of scripture was read by a brother in the Lord, that all that I was going through, in being left for dead by the people around me, being considered to be completely insignificant and being treated accordingly, Jesus, the Son of God and God the Son, also went through this treatment and even more. He could identify with being ostracized, not liked by others and hated. He knew what it was like to be oppressed, to be rejected and to feel grief and pain. He knew what it was to not be desired, to be despised, considered to not be of any worth or importance, oppressed, afflicted and to endure sorrow and grief.
The difference between me and him was that he had a perfect record. He never sinned and yet went through this treatment, even to the point where he was killed, whereas in my case, I had sinned endlessly, from birth to that point and was therefore nothing but a sinner saved by grace. I had also never suffered to the point of being put to death for righteousness but Jesus did.
In Isaiah 53:2-7, the prophet prophesying of all that Jesus would go through and the kind of way that he would be treated by others and regarded, stated:
- “…he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted…. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
This reminded me of some important truths as follows:
POINT 1 – JESUS WAS ALSO REJECTED, DISLIKED, CONSIDERED INSIGNIFICANT AND OPPRESSED
Jesus could identify with ostracism, rejection, not being liked and being considered to be insignificant by those around him. Although he was perfect, God the Son and the Creator of the world and all human beings in it, he too went through what I was going through and even worse. If he, as the perfect and glorious one could have been put through such pain, who was I, as a vile wretch, to feel resentful at life for what I, as a sinner, was going through?
POINT 2 – JESUS DID NOT FIGHT BACK IN THE NATURAL
Although Jesus was oppressed and afflicted, he did not open his mouth in retaliation or fight back in any regard. He simply submitted to the will of the Father, knowing that HE was in complete control and would settle every score. At times when people hurt and oppress me, I want to fight back or to desperately do something to right the wrong. Admittedly, many a time, I have had the wrong response and have reacted to the provocation. However, I need to leave the situation in God’s able and competent hands, even as Jesus did. I need to learn to be silent and to stand still.
POINT 3 – IN ALL HONESTY, I HAVE BEEN TREATED BADLY YES BUT I AM DESERVING OF FAR WORSE THAN WHAT I HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO
Often times when I consider how unfairly I have been treated by others, in different spheres, it hurts that God has allowed it to persist and has not put a stop to the oppression and suppression that I endure but then by right, as bad as what I have been going through is, the fact is that I am deserving of far worse. Unfair treatment is bad but due to me being a sinner, death and damnation is what I truly deserve. What people have been meting out to me therefore and how they’ve been treating me like scum, as much as it hurts, is still not as much as I deserve for my sin. God’s grace is still operational therefore because I am still in the land of the living, when in truth and in fact, I am worthy of death, physically and spiritually.
POINT 4 – OTHER MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD HAVE ALSO BEEN UNFAIRLY TREATED
My situation is not novel. When I feel the pain of what I am enduring, it is easy to think that I alone am being made to bear this load, which heightens my feelings about the unfairness of it all. Yet, others have gone through what I am going through and some are also going through what I am going through. In fact, some are going through far worse. In the Bible for example, men and women of God, like David, Joseph and others, have faced people’s rejection and been subjected to wicked, malicious and unfair treatment. Yet, they did not throw in the towel, put their hands up in defeat and give up.
They felt intense pain when going through what they were going through, dealing with people’s misunderstanding, hatred, rejection, envy, betrayal and oppression, yet, they still had to trod on, one day at a time. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and holding resentment at those who had offended them, they conducted themselves wisely, relied on the Lord who was in control of it all and he helped them.
This made me realize that when I make a fuss about what I am being made to go through and think that I cannot go on, it is because the pride in me is saying, “How dare them do this to me! How dare they reject me and oppress me!” Given that God’s people have been rejected, oppressed, abused, disliked, hated and envied in the past, some by their own brothers and sisters, why should I feel that I should be given a free pass? If this is my portion, then glory be to God! He is able to equip me to bear it. I can live a successful Christian life and do great exploits for him, even if disliked, treated as an outcast and considered to be of no value or worth by others.
Joseph wasn’t considered much and look at what God did with him! David wasn’t considered much by his brother Eliab and look at what God still did with him! Jephthah was actually hated and put out or expelled by his brethren and yet, it still pleased the Lord to use him mightily!
POINT 5 – GOD SEES AND KNOWS ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH
Whatever I am going through, as painful as it is, it is comforting to know that even if nobody else understands, God sees and he knows. He has seen the oppression. He has seen the abuse. He has seen the rejection, the ostracism, the disrespect, the complete disregard, the insults, the attacks, the attempts to accuse and frame me, to belittle and hurt me, to make me feel unworthy of love, suppressed and as if I have no worth. He has seen the undignified and unfair treatment, without remorse, the abuse, the wicked, malicious behaviour and the utter lack of care or concern for my welfare, including my spiritual welfare.
He has seen all of what I have been through and am going through and so knows all about it, even if it seems like he is being silent. He understands that my heart bleeds in intense pain, right this moment and that I feel tired and overwhelmed by it all. As a God that is able to renew strength as the eagles’s he knows the people who have been treating me poorly, who hide under appearances and show, so as to not be detected by the world. Yet, God knowing all about it, has allowed it in his sovereignty, for purposes that I realize I may never understand in this lifetime. So with this in mind, I must take up my cross, bear my burden and focus on following HIM, even in the face of all of the bad treatment and even in the face of a sea of rejection.
POINT 6 – GOD CAN DELIVER YOU FROM THE PAIN AND OPPRESSION AT ANY POINT IN TIME
God being all powerful, he can bring an end to your oppression at any point in time that he desires, if he desires, just like what he promised to do for his children, the Israelites. He told them in Isaiah 53:2-7 (and as I read it, I become emotional because I feel what is mentioned in the verses, like forsaken, grieved in spirit, afflicted and tossed with tempest):
- “Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
- For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
- O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”
POINT 7 – GOD CAN SHOWCASE HIS GLORY THROUGH YOUR SITUATION
The fact that I am weak, an outcast, rejected and considered a failure in the minds of most people, makes me an ideal candidate for the Lord to show up and showcase his glory through my life. If he chooses to intervene to help me and to change my story from mourning and sorrow to gladness and joy, then people will know for a surety, given that I was helpless to help my self, that it was God that did it, no one else.
In Isaiah 51:3 and 11-23, God told his people who were being sorely oppressed and considered as nobodies by those around them:
- “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody…Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
- I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?... But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
- Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out. There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up. These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?…Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: Thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.”
In light of all this, Hebrews 12:1-4, which was also read this morning at the Church Service, reminds me of how I am to treat with all that I am enduring. I am to lay aside every weight, not allow what people are doing or try to do, to affect my walk with God or to distract or derail me from purpose, no matter how much it hurts. I am to do even as Jesus did when he was oppressed and no matter how much pain I am in, not attempt to fight back or justify or explain a misunderstanding or defend or allow people’s sin to make me sin. I am to prayerfully remain still and let the Lord, who sees and knows, handle it.
The scripture states:
- “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”
(Written on 16th April, 2023, added to thereafter)