There is a natural phenomenon that’s easily verifiable. As an object travels away from its source, it becomes smaller, and as it travels towards the source, it becomes bigger. In other words, the closer we approach the sun the bigger and hotter it gets, and the further we move away from the sun the smaller and cooler it seems.
Often our resolve, our decisions, are like this. On the day these resolutions are made they are bright and burning strong within us. The further we are away from the moment we made them, the weaker and less necessary they seem!
Are Your Impurities Being Burnt?
How is it with you and our Lord Jesus Christ? Are you daily approaching the Son and finding that all your impurities are being burnt away, or are you stuck in some distant orbit of practical comfort? Is He becoming bigger and more real to you daily, or is it a distant and slightly vague hope?
Each of us is like particles of light moving towards the Son or going away from Him daily. Either our repentance and love of God grow stronger and more intense daily, or it tapers off into a meaningless acceptance of His presence with an unspoken, perhaps even unrealised, “all that can wait while I sort out my life first.” We can still continue with our habits of prayer and church-going but it makes no dent on our person.
Some others tend to give up with the apparent meaninglessness of it and find their own way to commune with God. Somehow, to those in orbit, God seems to be waiting only for them to die before any real transformation will occur to them. It is as if this world is for survival with the maximum comfort, and the next is for real change if any.
We are Constantly Hurt by Others
In the meantime, we are constantly hurt by the way others behave or respond to us.
Why do others insist on hurting us? Insults, humiliation, being ignored, misunderstood, taken for granted, unfair reciprocity of our own goodness and kindness…it seems this is our cross, and painful as they are, we generally tend to carry them. Once in a while, if we find it too much to bear, we throw the person (and the cross they have become) out of our lives.
What hurts inside us? Where is the real pain?
Our beliefs are the source of our identity. We are literally who we believe ourselves to be. Parenting, the environment of our lives in the womb, infancy and growing up is extremely important because many of our beliefs are formed without our conscious knowledge during this time.
We behave as we believe and this is the source of our identity.
As a result of sin in us, two things can occur (1) We can believe things about ourselves that are false. (2) We can operate therefore not from our true identity, but out of a love for an image that we create for ourselves. (Because of the false beliefs we possess)
Therefore, we can either be our genuine selves or we can create an image of ourselves.
Hurt vs. Suffering
Now in this article, I use the words ‘hurt’ and ‘suffering’ to mean two completely separate and different things, which is explained below.
It is easy to understand physical pain, as when someone pinches your arm. You feel hurt because that part of your body has been attacked.
When you are ignored, however, or when someone hurts you by their words where exactly is the pain? What is hurting by their words and why?
When the image we have created for ourselves is attacked, we get hurt. We find a need to protect this image and reestablish it.
A person with an image of being loving, therefore, can never accept anyone who says anything about him or her being unloving. It hurts tremendously and the person counters this attack in some hurtful way to reciprocate. In this way through the actions of that person, we can see that he or she was genuinely not loving but only desired to be seen and accepted as being so.
For someone who is genuinely a loving person, being accused of not being so, causes deep suffering, and there is no retaliation. The loving person does not stop loving when they are falsely accused. Only the person, who wanted the image of being loving, stops pretending when rightly admonished!
We have only two real choices in this regard: – Worship God or worship the image we have of ourselves. The one produces suffering and the other hurt.
The closer you move towards God, and His one and only Son our Lord Jesus Christ, the more intense will be your suffering.
The further you move away from the Son, the more it hurts, and the more you find yourself explaining, rationalising and trying to convince others who you really are!
With these meanings for suffering and hurt, therefore, praise God every time you get hurt. It is the easiest way to see the image you have erected before God.
The simplest way to recognise our false selves from the genuine self is this – If you need to rectify someone else’s idea of you, or if you need to distance yourself from the other who seems to possess this ‘wrong’ idea of you then it is because of an image you have of yourself.
If it pains you deeply, and you are able to accept that the other person’s evaluation is right from that person’s perspective, and you don’t need to cut off the other from your life then you are going forward with your genuine self.
Remember though, that that are many aspects to our identity so don’t be disheartened when you come across one facet of a false image you possess.
Refined by Sandpaper
None of us are all bad. We are good people, now corrupted because of sin. Being passive, half-hearted, complacent about what sin is doing to you, this is the only real all-bad thing you can do. Ignoring the Salvation, God has prepared for you at a real cost of His Son Jesus Christ’s suffering, makes us bad without hope.
The real good thing we can do is to take our weakened, wounded selves to Jesus daily and confess that the Iron He gave us is rusting and to please sandpaper it off completely and repaint us once more.
God uses other people and circumstances to sandpaper us. Let us praise Him and rejoice in this suffering, for we know that irrevocable incorruptible paint will envelop the iron soon.