Here is the text of the first article I wrote for the Young Adult Network over the summer:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” –Matthew 5:10
The word persecution is one of those heavy words that seem too intense for day-to-day use. When we hear of Christians getting persecuted, we often think of people getting thrown in jail or killed, martyred, for their faith. However, there seems to be such a need in the human heart to stand up for a cause that sometimes we create our “persecutions” and try to appear like a “martyr.” Have you ever done this? I know I have. I remember at a church that I used to work, I kept having disagreements with one of the other staff members and I felt like things were never going my way. I would complain about this person to any one who would listen. It took me so long to realize that the source of feelings had nothing to do with being persecuted but with harboring unforgiveness. I wasn’t being martyred; I was just dying a slow death in sin.
John and Staci Eldrige, authors of Wild at Heart and Captivating, say that every person is wounded in some way deep in their hearts. Often that wound can be traced back to a parental or adult figure, or a significant event. A lot of the anger we feel towards people is triggered because something that they did targeted that exact place in which we have been wounded. That is what happened with me in the story I just shared with you.
My wounds seem to deal with time and worth. I think they always have. Through some consistent devotional time and an accountability partner, I’ve begun to discover the source of these wounds. However, they are still tender. For example, not long ago I was with a person that belittled an idea that I had been working on. I felt more attacked than I actually was. I responded in 2 ways:
1. I sought out every possible thing that this person did that wasn’t perfect so that I could feel better about myself.
2. I worked even harder so that I could prove to myself that what I did was worthy.
While I was doing these things, I was not in fellowship with God, I lost time with my family, and I hurt my relationship with this other person. Those things that I did to prove myself were not done with a servant’s heart, but with a selfish heart. God was taking me down the rough road. I had a critical decision to make:
Should I continue masking my wound and acting persecuted or should I continue on with the Lord down that rough road and place my hurts in His hands?
Have you been faced with this question?
God is the only one who can deal with our wounds. When we are hit where we are wounded, though, we often try to deal with it ourselves. We don’t lay our wounds and our feelings at the cross. We search for more injustice to further our case in the eyes of others. We try to appear taken advantage of, martyred, so that no one will realize that we’ve been hurt and wounded–so that no one will recognize that we are not letting go. Oswald Chambers says it best: “The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves…Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to him,” ( My Utmost for His Highest). You are on a mission for Jesus Christ. You must “let go and let God” take care of these hurts and this anger and the shame.