Yes It Hurts – But God…

We have all been there. We have been mistreated and abused and maligned and attacked and kicked off a cliff. It hurts, and it is no fun. And if you are a believer, you perhaps expect it from non-believers who may not always want to treat you with dignity and respect.

But such treatment from fellow Christians is what can really hurt. It really takes its toll when believers treat you like dirt, say all manner of evil about you, lie about you, and so on. It can be devastating. And I know this is a very widespread experience unfortunately in part because of something I recently posted.

On a social media site I put up a brief comment, and I was a little surprised at what a quick and strong response it generated. Quite a few people responded, liked, shared and commented on it. So it seems to have really struck a nerve in many believers. What I wrote was this:

Christians can betray you. But Jesus never will.
Christians can hurt you. But Jesus never will.
Christians can abuse you. But Jesus never will.
Christians can disappoint you. But Jesus never will.
Christians can abandon you. But Jesus never will.
Sad, but that is the way it is.

betrayal-2The truth is, my intention of that post was to emphasise the second half of each sentence. That was my main reason for posting it. It was as much to encourage myself as others. It was meant to help me to keep going, despite the relentless attacks, betrayals, smears and vilification.

Yet many people were empathising with the first half of each sentence. It seems plenty of folks have known all about being back-stabbed, betrayed, lied about, let down, and so on. And it is so sad that this is the case. Jesus said the main way the world would know that he was sent by the Father was the unity and love Christians have for one another (John 17:20-23).

But that love is so very often lacking. Thus our testimony to a watching world is far from what it should be. I will be the first to admit I often fail in this area as well. But we would like to think that Christians would treat one another a bit better than the world does.

And the pain, as I said, is very real. Some of these things are like a kick in the gut. You feel utterly devastated. You feel so let down, so betrayed, so misused and abused, that you really think about giving up. You wonder if it is all worthwhile.

You may understand when non-believers give you are hard time, falsely accuse you of things, twist your words, impugn your motives, and attack your character – but when fellow Christians do it? That just becomes so unbearable at times.

So I can understand how some believers just drop out – either from saying anything in public, or worse yet, from the faith itself. Some just give up on the Lord because of the way the Lord’s people have treated them. Yes I get that. I can be tempted to do the same.

But as mentioned, my emphasis was on part two of those lines: “But Jesus never will.” He will not treat us like dirt. He will not love us and leave us. He will not play games with us. He will not use us then dump us. He will not walk over us like a doormat. So while Christians can and will misuse us and abandon us, Christ never will.

So if Christ will not give up on us, then we should not give up on him. We need to differentiate between Christ and his people. The former is always faithful, loyal and committed to us, but the latter sadly may not always be. Sure, believers should be faithfully imaging their Lord, but they often fail in this.

So this is both a challenge and a warning. We Christians need to get a lot better at being the sort of people we are meant to be as his sons and daughters. But we also cannot count on other believers to be for us what only Christ can. Christians will let you down. The church will let you down. Christ will not.

That is why our ultimate faith and trust must be in Christ alone, not in his fallen and fallible followers. So if the church has really hurt you or let you down, or other believers have done a good job of maligning the gospel right before your very eyes, look instead to Christ.

Believers will disappoint, Christ will not. As has been said, if you leave the faith because of what the church has done to you, you may have had your faith in the wrong place. He alone must be the one we pin our hopes on and the one we look to for all things.

And let me say that there can well be a place for letting go of some of the folks who have hurt you, abused you, or been disloyal to you. While we seek to keep bridges built with others, and pray and work for reconciliation when and where we can, this is not always possible.

Sometimes you have to cut people loose, whether by unfriending them on social media, or by severing a relationship. It is never pleasant, and will cause sadness and grief. I don’t like it when it happens, but sometimes it has been my only choice. None of us need to be treated like a punching bag, or someone’s dirty dish towel.

But the main point here is to run to Christ during such painful times. We must stay true to Christ, even if it seems everyone we know is turning against us or treating us so very poorly. The pain will eventually heal, and the bad memories will eventually fade.

So hang in there and persevere. Soon enough we will have our eternal reward. So don’t give up. Let me offer a few quotes by some great Puritan writers in conclusion:

“Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.” Thomas Brooks

“When we are foiled, let us believe we shall overcome; when we have fallen, let us believe we shall rise again. Jacob, after he received a blow which made him lame, yet would not give over wrestling (Gen. 32:25) till he had obtained the blessing. So let us never give up, but, in our thoughts knit the beginning, progress and end together, and then we shall see ourselves in heaven out of the reach of all enemies.” Richard Sibbes

[1131 words]

16 Replies to “Yes It Hurts – But God…”

  1. Hey Bill,

    How are you? You sound like you can use some cheering up! As a part of The Old Testament Prophets and Writings degree unit I am auditing at the moment, we are into our second week of a study on the Psalms, Last week the Forum Questions were about Psalm 102, analysing it’s four parts and the cycling between lament and praise. We reflected on it’s overall structure and the meaning it gains through being quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12 which makes Psalm 102 a Messianic Psalm. Studying Psalms, I think, helps us to put our lives into perspective especially when we consider them in the context in which they were written and especially what the Psalms tell us about the God who is to be worshiped as well as His abhorrence of sin.

    The next Forum was about a study of Psalm 61. When you read the Psalms consecutively, it is such a joy to enter into the beautiful imagery of this Psalm after an exhausting period of wrestling with David’s enemies in Psalm 52-60. Try it. What impact does reading through Psalms 52-60 have on the way you read Psalm 61? Reflect on the value of reading Psalm 61 in its literary context. David is up against his many enemies and even a friend as well. “Psalms are such a divine-human encounter, they find their actual setting within the formal worship of Israel” Tremper Longman, “How to read the Psalms” The Psalms tell us about the many attributes of the God who is to be worshiped, they give His people an idea of how, when, where and why He wants to be worshiped, magnifying his sovereignty they certainly make our troubles appear small in comparison and give us faith in God who is to be worshiped who never lets us down as He keeps His promises to His faithful followers that’s why I think you will be cheered by reading Psalms Bill. Blessings and love from yours in Christ, Sandra

  2. Dear Bill, It hurts deeply when we are misunderstood and reviled for taking a stand to uphold the Word of God. I would like to share some thoughts that helped me at times like the one you are going through. Your hurts are on two levels: first, is the personal hurt due to harsh words and accusations hurled at you, some may have even accused you of not being a Christian. The second pain comes from realizing many who profess to be Christians are so shallow in their faith that they would even have it in their hearts to do such a thing. Your first reaction is, “Lord, I was doing what Your Word says we are to do!” Then you begin to suffer from what I call “The Elijah Syndrome”, “Lord, I am the only one on earth….”
    There is much understanding and comfort in God’s Word: David knew all about it. Psalm 55:12-14 Psalm 41:9 Psalm 42:3-4. Hypocrites always miss the truth. They don’t recognize Christ in others because they don’t really know Him…John 8:19, Jesus calls us blessed when we are reviled and persecuted for His sake: Matthew 5: 10-11 [Blessed means happy, to be envied and spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation regardless of their outward conditions. [Amplified Bible}
    A. W. Tozer wrote an essay called, The Saint Must Walk Alone. You can find it on the internet. A very wise, Godly, older man once told when I was lamenting about some friends who had turned away, “The higher you climb up the mountain, the less vegetation you see.” I’ve never forgotten that. It still hurts when that happens, but it is understandable and predicted by our Lord. [John 15: 18-20] We also have the example of our Lord as well as all the Godly men and women down through the halls of time who have trod this path before us. We can draw comfort from their lives. God bless you and all of us sojourners and pilgrims who are just passing through,

  3. Sadly, believers who call themselves “Christians” do not realize that this title REQUIRES that we reflect JESUS CHRIST. Kept a young woman for a few months who told me that a married couple, atheists, had helped her get a place to live, gave her a job, and bought her a car. They had been my neighbors for years, and all that time they were so “Christ-like”. Had assumed they were Christians, now know they were not, but had reflected Jesus in how they lived. My point is this: if we have to tell people we are Christians, we have missed it. Our lives should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind. Thank you Bill, your articles are always worth sharing with my very few close friends. If we truly live “like Christ” our light shines on every dark place. And that is what we are called to do.

  4. Yes, thanks for all you do for us in your many articles. Bringing sense and accountability to us Christians, reminding us that it’s a long, hard road keeping the faith! You keep it real, remind us to be true to our faith and not swayed by feelings, but most of all you constantly remind us that God is faithful and we can, and should always rely on him at all times. He will never abandon us! Thank you once again, keep on fighting the good fight, you are doing great works, and so many of us look forward to and need to read what you write, May God continue to bless you always!

  5. Unfortunately, Bill, there are “Christians” who WILL do the things you listed, because not all “professing” Christians are truly “possessing” the gift of Salvation, resulting from a truly repentant heart and confession of faith.

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:21, 22, 23.)

    Scary thought, but Jesus said it! Take heart. I believe you are doing the will of the Father. \o/

  6. It’s the shallowness of many Christians (not all) that bothers me. They can be just as fickle and easily prone to be offended as any one in the world. if you say the slightest thing to challenge anything they believe or think-end of ‘friendship’!. What about love and forgiveness!

  7. Bill, I know that feeling of hurt and rejection from “fellow Christians”….it’s devastating. That has not led me to reject Christ, though – it has actually strengthened my faith, because I turn to Him who is the source of all comfort. Reading your words is also an encouragement and validation…..Thank you for your perseverance, your wisdom and your faithfulness.

  8. It’s the times we are in Bill. They are unnatural for believers. All this comfort and security and all Christians have to worry about is paying off their little house and sending their kids to a nice little christian school so they can become as shallow as they are! you say one thing they don’t like, you challenege one idea or though-that’s it, they won’t talk to you, ever again! It’s called spiritual and emotional immaturity. Apologies for sounding a bit cynical. I take comfort in the fact that God is going to do one hell of a shaking soon. It wont be nice for any of us, but the fellowship will be sweet. oh yeah! it’s coming!

  9. You have touched the heart strings of three good sisters Bill! Good on them! I love those two quotes from the Puritans. Thomas Brooks’ “Your life is short… ” and so on is just how I’m feeling this morn, tired in my old body from working on an old house – and struggling to say something that others can hear. And getting from (some but thankfully few) Christians “I don’t understand that Safe Schools thing and I don’t want to know”!!! The reason behind the (sincerely wrong) opposition of Christians is lack of teaching or understanding of the totality of the word of the Cross. How can I condemn another – brother or foe if I have seen what the Son of Man bore to utter destruction of the sins of the “whole world” 1John 2:2? There is now nothing to condemn. No need for me to react to injustice done. “This is the judgment light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light.” “The height, the depth the length, the breadth – to know the love of Christ”. Sibbes the “heavenly doctor” must have had understanding of the depthless mercy of God in Christ. This bit of dust (yours truly) loved with everlasting love? Gotta believe it or everything will hurt – it does not have to! There’s the victory that overcomes this judgmental world – our faith, freely given to His (untellable grace!!!) elect sons and daughters. Wow. I get that you want to turn our eyes upon Jesus, but people have their eyes on what comes our way – the answer to their need is “turn your eyes on the Cross of our risen exalted Lord Jesus, Son of Man”. What He has done, He has done – forever – and that is both grace and judgment in one act – His Cross. Soli Deo Gloria. An old Methodist preacher said to me by the Holy Spirit, forty years ago “Keep your eyes on the Cross”. I still say Amen. As always Bill thanks for your great work in the Lord.

  10. I appreciate all the comments submitted on this topic. The issue reminds me of the words to a vintage hymn, “Earthly friends may prove untrue, doubts and fears assail. One still loves and cares for you, One Who will not fail. Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails. Heaven and earth may pass away, but Jesus never fails.” These are wonderful words to remember and sing during times of discouragement and betrayal.

  11. I really feel like we are hitting the Matthew 24:12 moment : ‘Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold’. I think the trust of so many people has been violated that there is no grace in most relationships and a strong fear of vulnerability. I know I have only a heart of stone on my own and I need to continually ask God for his love and to increase my love for others. Psalm 51 may need to be our continual prayer – Create in me a new heart. But Bill is right, God alone is enough. If we focus on our love and acceptance from Him, we don’t have to ride the roller coaster of rejection from others as we are first loved Children of God. May God continually bless us all with hearts of flesh as His Spirit works in us.
    I also believe that where atheists show love, it is the love of God as all real love is of God. While they may not yet have the In-dwelling Holy Spirit, I believe God is guiding them to himself. Loving atheists I know see their own sin to some extent but are still a bit blind to the evil around them as maybe they are yet to have experienced a major betrayal by someone close.

  12. I am not saying it is good behaviour or justified, but I think some people drop others so suddenly because they are looking out for ‘micro-aggressions’ and any possible sign they are being rejected so they can reject you first. If you are real and honest with people (even if you show kindness) and not in flattery-mode or following PC rules, any disagreement may be seen as aggressive. It is comforting to know Jesus was despised and rejected and acquainted with grief. God grant us all compassion and a desire to pray for those that reject us because it is impossible to feel that compassion ourselves, but with God anything is possible.

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