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When They Don’t Understand

A Story of Rejection

You may be familiar with the story from the Bible of Jesus spending time with his disciples when they walked by a man who had been blind from birth.

With surprising efficiency, Jesus’ disciples quickly assessed the blind man’s physical and spiritual condition, and asked Jesus:

“Who was it that sinned [resulting in the punishment of blindness], this man or his parents?”

Maybe you’ve been in the blind man’s shoes before (I have).  People like to figure things out.  Sometimes we fallible humans make the mistake of trying to figure out other people’s problems for them (in 10 seconds or less).

Throughout your suffering, you may have experienced this quick (and ungracious) assessment and accusation.

It’s not a fun place to be.  You’re begging for God’s mercy, for Him to send help.

God, please just send someone to love and comfort me during this trial.

But that friend you saw coming, who you thought might be your answer to prayer, ends up judging and accusing instead.

Job knew how this felt.

Eliphaz, Job’s friend, finally broke the silence: “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?  Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:7-8)

Bildad, Job’s second friend, says much the same. “See, God will not reject a blameless person nor take the hand of evildoers.” (Job 8:20)

And Zophar repeats the refrain. “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear.…Your life will be brighter than the noonday, and its darkness like morning.” (Job 11:14-15, 17).

It hurts.

It’s hard.

Can you imagine being the blind man who had not done anything to cause his blindness?

Yet snap judgments were made about his condition on a daily basis.

He couldn’t even see his accusers, but I’m sure he heard their words.


Accusing Words in Your Life

Who are your accusers?

  • Maybe your loss has left you in a place where you don’t even recognize your own life anymore.  The hole of grief is so deep and vast, it seems like you will never be able to move out of and beyond it.  But yet you’ve been mistaken as being “un-spiritual”, or your waves of grief misunderstood as a lack of trust in God’s plan for your life.
  • Sometimes these accusations come from a spouse that doesn’t understand.  Even though they live with you and see your suffering, they think surely you can’t be enduring the pain you feel. “You’ll be fine.
  • It could be your close friend who can’t understand why you’re suddenly unreliable, non-commital, so “selfish” and always thinking of yourself.  In reality you’re just trying to cope, hanging by a thread.  Survival mode. Just trying as hard as you can to keep it all together.
  • Or, that doctor you seek out (or maybe that 15th or 20th doctor you seek out), who gives you a pat on the hand and offers you his best option: admit that your problems are “all in your head” because certainly you must be making up your symptoms to get attention.

I know you’re suffering. That you’ve become this person you never anticipated, never chose, never wanted.

But what do you do when they don’t understand?


God’s Purpose in Your Suffering

What if, in your lonesomeness and sorrow, God is drawing you to Himself, desiring that you learn more about His love and care for you?

What if He wants you to care more about His opinion of you than the opinion of your accusers?

Rather than giving us trials in our lives for the mere reason of punishment (as people often think), the Lord is loving and kind and allows us to go through hard things – sometimes excruciatingly painful things – to remind us that He is our perfect source for strength, for comfort, and hope.

I love these words from Gloria Furman, recorded in her husband’s book, Being There:

“When you can’t see what the Potter is making, you trust the Potter. He delights in his sovereign will, so we don’t have to apologize for God or feel embarrassed or embittered about what he has designed.

“He loves us with an everlasting love and is willing to put us through trials in order to purify us for himself. So we do not lose heart…. By the grace of God in Jesus Christ, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”


Jesus’ Conclusion to His Disciples

Going back to the story of Jesus, His response to his critical disciples had two components:

1. Answering their question (“Who sinned?”):

It was neither him nor his parents who sinned.

2. And then explaining the purpose for the blind man’s plight:

“This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”


My Expectations of Serving God

I don’t know what comes to your mind when you envision God’s works or glory being displayed in your life as you serve Him.

Maybe your expectation includes trendy catch-phrases we have in modern Christianity today.

You know the popular phrases.  They go something like:

Following Jesus – with reckless abandon

Being “sold-out” for Him

Fully surrendered

Completely devoted

“All-in!”

And sometimes like these phrases from a song:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”

“Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.”

These phrases often make us feel good about ourselves, and cause us to get excited to “do” whatever God would want us to, and to “go” wherever He wants.

How thrilling!  How exciting!

But what if the reality of glorifying God in your life looks like the last thing you ever wanted to do?  The last place that you ever wanted to go?

How is a Christian supposed to live when their life isn’t actually catchy phrases with consitent mountain top experiences and triumphs?

When, instead, “fully surrendered” dedication to Him looks like constant valleys and struggle?


To the Praise of His Glory

Sometimes it’s easy in our limitations to feel much like the blind beggar.  Beaten down and lonely, it feels like no one cares.

What if, despite the accusations of others, despite your inability to be some super “all-in” Christian involved in every activity you wish you could be, what if your life actually does have significant impact?

What if God can use your cast-out, looked-down-on self “so that the works of God might be displayed in you?

My personal experience with suffering has enlarged my heart for people who may not “have it all together” according to the church’s or world’s standards.

I know God loves us mis-fits just as much as those who have boxed-up, packed-with-a-ribbon-on-top lives.

In fact, us “sub-par” people are often the ones God chooses to use according to 1 Corinthians 1:

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Cor. 1:28-29


Purpose

Can you imagine the sadness and disappointment of the blind man’s mother when she realized that her son couldn’t see?

The hard circumstances that he had to overcome in his life growing up and as a beggar to meet his needs?

The abuse the blind man endured daily by people who, like the disciples, judged and perhaps showed their hatred?

“What good will he ever do in the world?”

Despite the misunderstanding of people around him, this man was blessed to know (this side of heaven!) the purpose of his suffering – to bring God glory and put His power on display.

Jesus essentially said to him, “It was for this moment that I created you!”


Hope

Take heart, my friend!  You are not alone in your suffering, even though it may feel that way.

God, in His wisdom, knows your weaknesses, and guess what?  He can – and will – love, protect, guide, and use you anyway.

Your life and the heart-breaking circumstances can be the way that God chooses to display His glory and His power.

And this experience of suffering may help you learn how to love and comfort others in the way that God has perfectly comforted and loved you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 

who comforts us in all our affliction,

so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,

with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Comments (29)

  • Ann 1 month ago Reply

    Amen! praising Him in the midst of situations that never makes sense, are hurtful and are hard is like letting our faith become bold …

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    You’re right, Ann! It has shown me how weak my faith really is. Paul Tripp said this once and I can identify:
    “One of the things that God has clearly revealed to me – it’s humbling – is that so much of what I would have said was faith in Christ wasn’t faith in Christ at all; it was just that I was healthy and strong. And had the ability to produce.
    “And when that was taken away it was very, very hard. We curse weakness, because we don’t actually want to need a savior.”- Paul Tripp, Parenting: Gospel Principles that Can Radically Change Your Family – Live Conference, Session 4

  • Kara 1 month ago Reply

    Great points to keep in mind when struggling in this manner. Thanks for sharing!

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    You’re welcome, Kara! 🙂

  • Melissa Parcel 1 month ago Reply

    Very insightful, I really appreciate your thoughtful (prayerful) look at situations like this. I think, in order to make ourselves feel better, we often default to trying to figure out what that person did wrong so we can reassure ourselves that something similar won’t happen to us. I think that your insights reflect just as much on the “accusers” taking a look at their lives as it does to the person going through something.

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    Making ourselves the standard by which we measure others, essentially, right? Completely agree with you, Melissa!

  • Laura Belle 1 month ago Reply

    Very interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    Thanks for reading, Laura! 🙂

  • Alice Mills 1 month ago Reply

    Suffering can be incredibly redemptive and purposeful if we let it. Or we can resist and suffer to no purpose.

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    Yes! It’s having humility and not growing calloused that is the hard part!

  • Melissa 1 month ago Reply

    I would add ourselves to our list of accusers as well and this can be the most damaging. When we ourselves believe the false “truth” that we must have done something wrong to endure our trials. That generally leads to shame.

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    You’re right, we can be our own worst critics sometimes, Melissa! “The rain falls on the evil and the good.” 🙂

  • Rebekah,
    You hit my heart hard with your truth. I’m losing my mom everyday due to dementia and I am constantly trying to figure out how I can fix it rather than just love her before she forgets who I am, It breaks my heart, but it has also drawn me closer to God because no one can fix it. I have to trust and rely on God everyday to give me the strength to endure. My prayer is in her affliction that I learn to comfort and simply love rather than trying to fix it.

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    Oh, Sheila, I am so sorry. I can’t even fathom how hard it is to be in your shoes, and can only imagine your desperation to find a cure. Our faith grows that place where we feel so helpless, yet realize and rely on God’s power to love and comfort. But it’s so hard. Love to you and your sweet momma. <3

  • Carmen 1 month ago Reply

    So thankful for His mercy and love and ways that seem foolish to us, choosing the weak and lowly. Love Him!

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    Yes! Me too, Carmen!

  • Stacey Billingsley 1 month ago Reply

    This is helpful. I’ve been in that place where just coping with day-to-day life is a struggle. We don’t always know what someone is dealing with!

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    You’re right! Glad it was helpful, Stacey! 🙂

  • Gina 1 month ago Reply

    This is a beautiful post and very comforting. Thank you for writing!

    Rebekah
    Rebekah 1 month ago Reply

    You’re welcome, Gina! 🙂

  • Jessica 1 month ago Reply

    It’s great that you have found something that makes you happy! I know a lot of people who use this same strategy. Good for you!

  • Julie 1 month ago Reply

    Thank you for your insight about this! I know God uses the hard times to shape us, but I don’t really enjoy the experience. They definitely make me cling tight to God.

  • Jess 1 month ago Reply

    Beautiful reminder that the valleys and struggles of our lives are for God’s glory, and that we should expect hardship because it refines us to His image!

  • kiersten 1 month ago Reply

    Such an inspiring read, especially for anyone going through a difficult time.

  • Kisti 1 month ago Reply

    So powerful…what if our loneliness is drawing us closer to God! So many times we try to rely on those who are physically around us when we need to be relying on God. When we rely on Him our faith blossoms and grows in ways we never could have imagined. And sometimes this is “forced” because we have no one else to rely on but Him.

  • Rachel 1 month ago Reply

    Thanks for your post. It is in times of adversity that we grow the most. This is a reminder of that.

  • Cerin 1 month ago Reply

    We all have our struggles. Great read!

  • Kim 1 month ago Reply

    This was a great read. We all have our own issues and its helpful to remember that we’re not alone

  • Gloris 4 weeks ago Reply

    “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Cor. 1:28-29
    One if my favorite passages.
    Thanks for the encouragement.
    “Your life and the heart-breaking circumstances can be the way that God chooses to display His glory and His power.” Yes. Amen!

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