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Dealing with Physical and Emotional Pain

It’s hard for me to read Paul’s words without wincing:

Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
(2 Corinthians 11:24–25)

Can you imagine being beaten and stoned? I cannot. Here is the awful reality of physical abuse. Few people will ever know such extreme pain. But if you think the man was pretty much alone in it all, get hold of a copy of Fox’s Book of Martyrs or read it online. There is no way to get around it; God’s servants often become scapegoats. Too frequently, this is what we pastors experience . . . even today.

This is true emotionally more frequently than physically. Humanity’s twisted depravity, for some reason, likes to express itself in this way. Take the prophet Daniel, for example. Faithful, efficient, honest, and absolutely dedicated, the man served others with a pure heart. But it backfired on him. According to the sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, the very people he worked with turned on him. They set out to prove he lacked integrity. They went on an extensive “witch hunt.” They left no stone unturned.

Can you imagine how that hurt? You are the object of suspicion that leads to an investigation. You hear whisperings about your character. Stories swirl around, calling into question your words, your actions. Every move you make is being watched by frowning critics. And yet there is not a shred of truth to it. You have been a model of authenticity. You have devoted yourself to the dual role of helping others and honoring the Lord. You’ve served Him faithfully . . . and this is the thanks you get.

It takes the grace of almighty God for us to press on under those circumstances and to accept His plan over our own. Press on!

—Chuck

Comments

I'm actually going through this exact experience. The problem is friends and family don't know how to help because they are limited too, and sometimes they don't like to hear the issues or problem. The good thing about man is that good men generally want things to work out for the better and wish for the best for all. So it's hard for them to accept how evil can be so indifferent or as Hannah Arendt calls it, "banal." I have gone through this experience for 7 years at my place of employment. Even knowing that the situation is filled with lies, biases, and misconstructions and projections about my character, integrity, and work ethic does not alleviate the pain of having to go "before the firing squad" daily. Daily, I have done my best to accept them and to sustain an aura and atmosphere of love. Could I have been more loving? Yes. Could I have done more of everything, yes? But in the end, their assessments are predicated on their own insecurities and personal identities. But still, in this reality, these very things can mean the difference betweeen success and failure. When failure is the result, brothers and sisters in Christ who have not known the suffering of being a Christian and view Christianity through the commercial lens of modern American consumerism and comfort, cannot understand -- they can't even relate. Because American blandishments is about comfort and being upbeat; and anything too deep or serious is beyond their mental or spiritual reference.

What have I learned?

To not be so critical of myself so that I can be more accepting of others. To not be so critical of others so I can accept God's grace to myself. To be quick to acknowledge the strengths of others and to build them up without competition or jealousy. To reserve opinions and criticism and to see positive where it exists. To let others win discussions or flaunt knowledge. To give up working in my own strengths and let God do the rest. To shed the mantle of perfection so that I can be productive.

I have learned to abandon self. Very very difficult.

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