Upset, Hurt….How Can The Scriptures Help?

G001_Fear - Woman

Hurt? Upset? …..How Can the Scriptures Help?

Have you ever experienced HURT?

Have you ever been UPSET?

I want you to cast your mind back to a situation in which you were upset or felt hurt. Some of you might not have to go back because you are hurting right now.

I am going to add to your burden, because I am going to suggest that maybe you could have avoided being upset and the hurt that you experienced was unnecessary.

Recently, someone shared with me an issue that could have caused us to be upset and even to experience hurt. My response was to invite them to consider some things that might have produced the situation. I had taken those things into consideration and consequently being upset did not even occur to me.

I had a conversation with another individual who indicated that they were taking care not to get caught up in reacting to what could be seen as disrespectful behaviour from a colleague.

With the exception of those who walk under a halo, from time to time something rubs us the wrong way and we get upset and may even experience hurt feelings.

That said, it is equally true that how we process and file incoming information influences how we relate to others and how we respond to events. What it all boils down to is that the only factors that determine what rubs us the wrong way are the images we play in our heads and the words we frame.

What am I saying?

I am suggesting that your thoughts are the only things that determine whether you are upset or hurt.

To use Rohan’s psychology class example:

If an insane person hurls some really terrible insults at you, would you get upset and feel hurt?

Put the same words in the mouth of your least favoured colleague and……

All that has happened is that you processed the events differently. YOU and only YOU decided to smile in one instance and to fly into a rage in the other.

So who caused you to be upset and hurt? YOU. Single-handedly, all by yourself, working alone, with no outside intervention, in your own wisdom YOU took it up on yourself to be upset and experience hurt.

Why we do that to ourselves is hard to understand.

I want to share with you how the Scriptures and a renewed mind can help you to better manage upset and hurt.

  1. Other’s shoes

Matthew 7:12New International Version (NIV)

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Some of the upset and hurt that we experience can be avoided by making one fundamental adjustment.

The critical change that will make a huge difference in our lives is to “put yourself in the shoes of others”. Before you turn off and think you have been hearing that from childhood, bear with me a little longer.

I am suggesting that you develop the discipline to consistently ponder why the individual did what they did or said what they said BEFORE reacting.

Some of us are far too sensitive and touchy. Our first impulse is to take offence and to feel disrespected. In that state of mind, it is difficult to think objectively and things go downhill from that point.

We all know people with that mentality and relating to them is like walking on eggs. The challenge is that traces of the mindset that leads to that kind of reaction might be more present in us that we realize.

Pause for a while and reflect on some situations in which you have been upset or experienced hurt.

Can you say that you fully explored what could have caused the individual to act the way they did?

Can you say that you treated them the way you would have wanted to be treated?

Give others the benefit of the doubt to reduce upset or hurt.

Our next stop is the role of SELF

  1. Focus on Self

When you think of the hurt you experienced, were you focused on yourself and your needs?

When we focus on ourselves to the exclusion of other considerations, it is easy to find things that are not in sync with where we are mentally. Anything that falls outside of our needs prompts internal conflict which may or may not be expressed.

Supressed conflict often manifests as upset or hurt.

You can reduce the incidence of upset in your life by being more mindful that we need to be inter-dependent.  We have to make sacrifices to support each other.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matt 16:24

Deny SELF and reduce upset.

  1. Pride

We do not like to accept the role of pride in our lives but we have some explaining to do. Why would we feel disrespected because we were not mentioned by name in a speech and others were?

Why else would Donald Trump throw away the advantage of his Convention Speech to return to his childish tracing because Ted Cruz did not endorse him?

Why would we take umbrage to the fact that we were not consulted in the decision making process or invited to the meeting or function?

In those cases, a haughty self-image has got the better of us.

Reduce instances of being upset by accepting that you might be less important in the scheme of things than you think.

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 16:18 

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall

Proverbs 16:5

The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

Solomon was pointing out that the natural progression is for healing to take place. Conflicts should move to resolution …not fester and grow into malice.

Increase humility and reduce hurt.

  1. Low self-esteem

We are not happy accepting that we might have low self-esteem. However, it is an issue for some of us.

People who are lacking in self-confidence tend to attach a negative spin to unfolding events. There is a tendency to think that things are not in their favour. The motive of others is questioned and rarely deemed to be in their best interest.

Hurt and upset linked to this mindset can be reduced by spending considerable time in mental visualizing exercises. Picture yourself experiencing positive outcomes. Play mental videos of things going well for you. Time and time again see people being kind to you and giving you the respect that you deserve. Above all, know that you are worthy! Increase self-esteem and reduce upset.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

What about Forgiveness?

You notice there is no mention of forgiveness. If there is no offence taken then there is no need for forgiveness.

Are there situations in which there is genuine cause to be upset or to experience hurt?

Yes, but I prefer to pass on some opportunities to be upset.

It gives me peace of mind and enhances my relationships.

Romans 12:18 New International Version (NIV)

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I include myself in that. I want to be at peace with myself and others. Taking offence moves me away from that. Even if I do not raise it with others, I will not be at peace internally. I would rather not take offence in the first place.

In closing, I draw your attention to the Mark 12:28-31

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g]There is no commandment greater than these.”

This has implications for you. Loving God with all your heart, means being obedient to Him. If you are here and you have not followed His plan for rescuing you from sin, you need to fix that before it is eternally too late. God’s system for rescuing you from eternal damnation includes affirming that Jesus is the Son of God and being immersed in water for the removal of your sins.

The other implication of the passage is the command to love your neighbour as yourself.

If you are firmly grounded in Christ and stay true to these commandments you will experience less hurt and find fewer reasons to be upset.

God bless you!

 

 

 

 

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3 Fatal Dangers of Failing to Live in the Shoes of Others ….Christian Living from Inside The Shoes Of Others

The objective of this lesson is to share insights as to how we can make “love your neighbour as yourself” become a reality and a feature of how we relate to others.

I suggest that one essential and sufficient component of our quest to love our neighbour as ourselves is the need to consistently place ourselves in the shoes of others.

I invite you to reflect on whether someone who consistently appreciates the circumstances surrounding the actions and mindset of others is not ideally placed to be more considerate towards them.

On the other hand, is it not reasonable to conclude that someone who seldom sees things from the perspective of others is more prone to be engaged in conflicts and to be challenged by requests for empathy?

I want to highlight three sets of dangers that hang over our heads when we fail to “live” in the shoes of others.

 

Esteem issues 

One of the goals of our socialization is to get us to feel good about ourselves.

That process has the side effect of inviting comparisons with others.

That is the first danger we face when we are not able to put ourselves in the shoe of others.  We run the risk of getting caught in the trap of comparison.

Remember that our traditional socialization seeks to position us in a favourable light.

This often means that we are more likely to view others less favourably. We might be led to think that if we dim their light ours may appear brighter.

This, however, runs counter to the Scriptures which commands us to esteem others better than ourselves. (Ph 2:3)

Sometimes when we compare we fall short. We do not always come out feeling that we are better off than others.

When that happens too often we might be driven to question our own self worth.

The tendency towards comparison opens up risks to our Christian walk.

When we perceive that others are more favourably placed than we are, we open the door to the fatal sins of covetousness and envy.

Our socialization strongly encourages us to be ambitious. In satisfying our ambition we face the ever present danger of falling prey to envy and covetousness.

What about the other end of the spectrum?

What happens when we weigh ourselves in the balance and come  away with the sense that we have the advantage?

A sense of feeling better off than others has as a constant companion the risk of being proud. Pride has been identified as one of the deadly sins and the Bible is a strong advocate of humility.

What then of this living in the shoes of others concept?

The starting point is the recognition that as humans, we are not in total control over our circumstances. Our actions do impact how life unfolds for us but we are also subjected to influences outside of our control.

We appreciate and accept that the shoe that someone else is standing in is not entirely of their design and construction. We also note that but for the grace of God, those very shoes could be ours.

Do not imagine it to be unthinkable that you could find yourself in the situation in which some people find themselves. Life is a great leveller. The unthinkable can become our reality without notice and despite our protestations.

So we proceed from the foundation of the recognition that the shoe in which we stand is not necessarily of our design and creation.

From that foundation we can learn to see people where they are and to respect their position. We also arrive at a place where we recognize that there is no need for comparison.

If your shoes could be mine and mine yours of what value is to me to compare?

I learn to come to a perspective of life which understands that the shoes that I am in are not entirely of my own creation but these are the ones I am required to wear. They are mine. I had better learn to be comfortable in them.

Fixating on how much more or less attractive and comforting other shoes are is not particularly helpful. That thinking is not going to change mine.

Competitive Instinct

The second danger of failing to consistently live in the shoes of others is that comparison has a tendency to encourage competition.

The nature of competition is that it involves opposing sides. Further, the objective of a competition is that one side will defeat the other side. Victors emerge from competitions. There is the joy of victory and the agony of defeat.

Consider going through the socially required comparison with the neighbour next door. Once again, they come out ahead of you in your evaluation.

Your socialization coaching yells at you that you are betraying a lack of ambition and a defeatist attitude when you continue to let the balance be tipped in the favour of your neighbour.

Wake up and show some spunk!

Responding to the strident and persistent coaching you reflect on your neighbour. You blame yourself for helping to create the imbalance because you have always been so supportive and willing to help.

That has to stop!

No more offers of help. You are on your own neighbour. In fact, I now fully recognize you as my opponent.

That is the very real danger that comparison invites.

What about the neighbour on the other side?

Truth is I have been putting out a lot to help him through difficult times. But with my new understanding of the fact that we are in fact competitors and opponents, I fear that it is only a matter of time before he catches up with me and passes me…………. with my help!

Sorry neighbour — er opponent, I can no longer be as receptive to your call for help. I have challenges of my own. I am so far back in this competition that I have to start paying attention to catching up.

I just can’t afford to channel my time and my resources to address your needs.

You could see from this how variations of the Parable of the Good Samaritan could play out itself with this mindset.

The scary truth is that this mindset is prevalent and attends to our own personal doors more than we would like to admit.

It is cleverly disguised and is not manifested to us in this unvarnished state. But be not fooled, some element of fallout from comparison and competitiveness is at play in our lives.

The socialization is so deeply ingrained that it is difficult to totally root out the competitive instinct. Indeed, the NEED to be competitive is reinforced daily.

We can see then that a logical extension of comparison with others can quickly lead to feeling a need to be victorious over them. The world loves winners. We all crave being in the winners circle.

This mindset if left unchecked can produce serious challenges to Christian living. In our worldly thinking, those that we believe come out better than us in the comparison need to be brought down.

Those who are worse off need to be kept down.

With that mindset, the thought of providing assistance in a time of need is alien.

It is great that high riders are brought low. Let them look to their own kind to rescue them.

They do not need my help.

If they are lower down on the rung, then we really do not want to get caught up in their misery. We are past that and want to move on.

Either way, the misadventure of others gives us a competitive advantage. It gives us a higher place in the competition.

From this we can more readily understand some of the mindset that underpins the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

It builds on the philosophy of a Scarcity mentality. A belief that there is just not enough to go around and so the more I can prevent others from getting the more will be available to me.

The provision of manna and the exposure of those with a scarcity mentality reinforces the weakness of this philosophy.

Lack of Understanding

The third set of dangers arising from the failure to live in the shoes of others is the fact that it discourages longsuffering and forgiveness.

When we put ourselves in someone’s shoes, we come to a deeper understanding of what is going through their minds. We come to appreciate the factors that are influencing their thinking. We have a sense of how they may have been prompted to act.

From the perspective of their shoes, we have a better handle on how events unfolded and we are positioned to respond appropriately.

One immense advantage of ensuring that we are in the shoes of others before we respond is that it gives us cause to pause.

An emotional reaction is triggered when an incident takes place. This is a raw gut reaction to stimuli.

We sense that we have been insulted so we react be sending out an even more caustic insult.

The call of the renewed mind is to quickly step in the shoes of the insulting party. Come to appreciate the circumstances that led to the incident.

That process provides us with precious cooling off seconds. We are now no longer being driven by fickle and dangerous emotions but by rational thinking.

That simple pause that shifts the game from emotional gut reaction to thoughtful reasoned response makes a huge difference in being Christ-like as it relates to longsuffering and forgiveness.

One feature of the old man that must be mercilessly slain is the tendency to be led by our emotions. An indication of our level of maturity is the extent to which we are driven by our emotions instead of being guided by the Scriptures to respond appropriately.

Impatience aside, there is also the challenge of un-forgiveness.

If we can fathom why someone behaves as they did, we are better placed to be understanding and to forgive them.

This is especially true if we recall that shoes may move among people. Your shoes today might be mine tomorrow.

So, what is the conclusion of this matter?

Empathy or living in the shoes of others is the bedrock on which loving others as you love yourself is grounded.

We must bear each other’s burden and be united in a common cause (Gal 6:2). That is the very opposite of the spirit of competitiveness where each one seeks their own good – totally ignoring the needs of others.

We must be patient with others and forgive them they way that God forgives us. (Col.3:13)

Philippians 2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The bottom line is that when we fail to live in the shoes of others we set off a C chain:

We Compare, We Compete and we are quick to Condemn.

From the shoes of others, we replace Comparison with Celebration or Commiseration.

We no longer Compete instead we Cooperate.

Instead of swift Condemnation we Comfort or Correct.

1 Corinthians 13: Love

Love

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Love is patient

There is a tendency for us to more readily spot flaws in others than in ourselves.

Matt 7:3

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

One challenge is that having identified the flaws, we want them to be removed quickly. We get upset when the change that we require does not take place immediately. We are increasingly upset when the undesirable behaviour occurs.

There is an important fact that many do not recognize or accept.

In many instances, we are especially frustrated and annoyed at behaviours in others that we have struggled with in our own lives.

This is usually some event or action or behaviour that happened or continues to occur in our lives that we detest.  Our feelings about it are so strong that we want to hit out at it – wherever it appears with a passion.

We project the frustration that we have about ourselves (past or present) unto the offender with increased intensity.

Consequently, it is useful to review those things that bring out your wrath to see if at some stage they were or still are issues for you.

1 Corinthians 13 is reminding us that in the context of the overarching command to love our neighbours, patience is required.

Colossians 3:

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

A charge to you today is the examine ways in which you are impatient. See if in those moments of frustration a feeling of deep and sincere love for the other person is your primary motive.

When love is at the heart of what we do, the level of impatience with others is not as great.

 

Love is kind

One key to letting kindness be an active part of our lives is to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.

If we were in their position, what would we want?

That mindset has a way of bringing out the best in us.

It is important to remember that being kind is not only about providing money and things.

At the same time, sometimes our kindness should extend to providing for physical needs.

I John 3:

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

 

Love does not envy

Aristotle (in Rhetoric) defined envy (φθόνος phthonos) “as the pain caused by the good fortune of others”, while Kant defined it as “a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others” (in Metaphysics of Morals). Source: Wikipedia

If we go back to wanting for others what we want for ourselves then we will be happy with whatever blessings they have received.

The command to “love your neighbour as yourself” directly opposes any thought of envy.

 

Love does not boast and is not proud

Boasting and pride are linked to our EGO or deceived SELF.

Recall the two main highways that lead to a corrupted way of thinking.

The first one leads us to getting attached to things, people and positions.

The more things we can claim as “mine” the fatter the EGO and the greater the level of deception.

The second highway takes us to a place where we focus on thinking how different we are from others.

The more different we are the bigger the EGO and the more deceived we become.

Christians are called to renew their minds (Romans 12). They are to reject the corrupt way of thinking that is wrapped up in “Mine” and “I am not like that”.

The key is to recognize that we are merely stewards of our material possessions and the positions that we hold. That situation can be dramatically changed without warning.

When we realize that things and positions are not an intrinsic part of who we are, then we deny self the right to boast or to be proud.

Only the insane will boast about a castle on a hill as if it belonged to them when they have no connection at all with it. Be careful how we use “my” and “mine” to impress others and to feel good about ourselves. We really do not own anything in a real sense.

The love of which 1 Corinthians 13 speaks comes from a renewed mind. This mind no longer conforms to the dictates of the EGO – the deceived Self. It does not hang on to things and positions.

 

Love does not dishonour others

Something that is unique – one of its kind – is highly treasured. A normal man who runs 100 meters in 11 seconds will not be widely celebrated. If you are the only one that runs it in 9:59 seconds then respect and adoration for you abounds.

The EGO feeds on adoration and on being celebrated.

If you put these two thoughts together you will recognize why it is important for the EGO to work hard at being different. The more we are just like everybody else the less respect and adoration we can claim.

A well fed EGO – our deceived SELF – actively puts down others in a drive to elevate itself.

Alternatively, it constantly reminds others of things that make them standout so others feel diminished and “less valued.”

Think about the “My father..” verbal contests among young boys or the “Your Momma” insult trade off of adolescents.

The love that comes from a renewed mind is humble. It seeks to relate to others where they are and to respect them.

 

Love is not self-seeking

The scriptures consistently prod us to become “equal opportunity thinkers”.

We should have a mindset that wants the best for not only self but for all others.

Php 2:3  Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. (Good News Bible)

2Ti 3:1  Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. 2 People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; 3 they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; 4 they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God; 5 they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people. (Good News Bible)

 

Love is not easily angered

Anger is a melting pot of many ingredients. These include:

An action/event … a stimulus

Personalities

Relationships

Historical events

State of mind

How the event is processed

Implications & Consequences

Circumstances under which event took place – private/public etc.

Mindset

Col 3:12

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

The Mindset has the power to overwrite the impact of all the other elements. That is why with a renewed mind, we can turn the other cheek.

We cannot overemphasize the importance and value of working on the way we think and getting to the point where we are more Christ-like in our thinking, feelings and actions.

 

Love keeps no record of wrongs

Col 3: 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

The false sense of “ME” that we embrace and protect so vigorously is a major contributor to the difficulty we have in dealing with what we perceive to be the wrongs of others.

The more highly we think of ourselves the greater the chance that someone is going to do or say something that does not fit well with our self image.

That is why some people get the feeling of being disrespected so easily.

Amazingly, people who have low self esteem are also very easily hurt by the actions of others.

The arrogant and conceited personality as well as those that have doubts about their competence and self worth tend to hold on to hurts for a long time.

When you feel good about who you are, the darts that others throw at you tend to bounce off more easily.

Another mindset that promotes unforgiveness is the desire to take revenge and punish the offender.

This is the eye for eye mentality that Christ warns against.

Matt 5: 38

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Lev 19:18  Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the LORD.

Rom 12:

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;     if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is associated with a transformed and renewed mind.

It is tied to a mind that manifests the fruit of the Spirit:

Gal 5: 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like, I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

It is clear here that the flesh (our sinful nature) is the source of behaviour that wars against the Spirit.

Mat 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 

Love always protects

Think about the love that a mother has for her newborn baby and you get the picture of what this means. Nothing more needs to be said here.

 

Love always trusts

Trust is the glue that holds healthy relationships together.

When we act in ways that betray that trust, we weaken the bond of love and place the relationship at risk.

At the same time, trust is a two-way street. The failure of one party to trust makes it difficult for true bonding to take place.

In the scriptural framework, it is far better to trust and be betrayed than to withhold trust and be constantly imputing dishonest actions or motives on the part of others.

 

Love always hopes

When we love someone we want the very best for them. We hold out great hope that their wishes and aspirations will be achieved.

No surprise then that a love that is anchored in loving God with all our heart, loving ourselves and loving others as we love ourselves is full of hope and positive expectations.

The mind that allows the fruit of the Spirit to ripen in it will demonstrate a pure love and will rejoice in hope.

 

Love always perseveres

True love is not fickle. It is not easily disappointed or discouraged.

There is a sense of looking beyond faults and focusing on the end goals.

 

2 Peter 3:9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Love never fails

The love of 1 Corinthians 13 overcomes all obstacles.

Its poster example is reflected in Romans 5:8:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The challenge to you today is to let love be central to your very existence.

Repent of the unloving ways in which you have acted and continue to act.

Develop a deeper relationship with Christ and His teaching. Obey His commands and follow His example.

Punishment or Obstacle? How to Tell and What to Do

Punishment or Obstacle? How to Tell and What to Do

As you go through life you face stiff challenges. You find yourself in difficulties that are not easily overcome. Some of the problems that you are forced to handle appear to be overwhelming. Coping seems to be beyond your capacity in those dark moments of your life.

In the midst of some of these crises you might be tempted to wonder if you are being punished:

“Is God punishing me for some wrong that I did or for some other act of disobedience?”

“Am I paying the price for sin in my life?”

In your more buoyant and optimistic state of mind, you might look at difficult situations as challenges that you will work to overcome. You see this as a test of your faith and resolve. You think in terms of increasing your patience and commit to achieving the victory.

Which mindset is the correct one?

How can I distinguish between situations that are obstacles and those in which I am being punished by God?
Is there a difference in how I should respond to these challenges?

The fact is that we are not able to know the mind of God – except where clear precepts and principles are outlined in the Bible. We are not told when and how God will effect punishment on those of us who are living under the New Covenant.

Since we cannot tell then when punishment is being meted out to us, there is no point in focusing our energies on trying to get an answer to the “Punishment or Obstacle” question.

Here is a practical approach to handling crises and difficult times that will work for you:

1. Remember that we all fall short of what God would have us to be. (Rom 3:23 )

2. We are all required to be penitent about our short comings and to decide to correct them – the process of repentance. (Luke 13:3)

3. You then should constantly reflect on your life and its alignment with Biblical principles. Seek forgiveness and commit to making the required changes.

4. God promises that He will look favourably on persons who have penitent and contrite hearts.(Psalm 51:17 ) If you adopt that posture, you should not need to fear that God’s wrath is being poured out on you each time you encounter difficulties.

5. Having sorted out your alignment with God, you can now focus your energies on resolving the problems that confront you.

6. It helps to remember that you will not get a challenge that is greater than you are able to handle. ( 1 Cor 10:13 )

7. You are now ready to solve the problem at hand. Your first challenge is to identify what is the real problem.

8. Here are some problem solving guidelines:
a. Problem Definition: Gather as much information as you can to support why you think there is a problem. What is the evidence that things are not what they should be?

Adding the question “Why?” at each step is extremely helpful in ensuring that you identify the real problem.

b. The source of the problem: If you spend time identifying the cause of the problem you will be better able to find long term solutions. Do not be tempted to apply band aids to deep-seated problems.

c. Solutions: Take the time to examine all the approaches to solving the problem that you can identify. Evaluate each option – pros and cons – and select the most appropriate strategy for achieving your objectives.

d. Implementation: Once you have decided on the approach to solving the problem that you will take then you need to develop an Action Plan. We often have good strategies but they fail because of poor execution. The Action Plan should cover clarity about the desired outcome, the resources – human and other – that will be required, who will drive the process and how you will determine when the problem is solved.

e. Monitoring: Problems have a way of returning to bother us. You should take care to be alert to signs that the problem is about to rear its ugly head again. Your early response is likely to save you a lot of heartache.

f. Lessons learned: One way to avoid the recurrence of problems of like nature is to reflect on the lessons that you can learn from each incident. Making the same mistakes over and over is not wise.

So, how can you tell if you are being punished or just facing an obstacle?

The truth is that you can’t tell for sure because we cannot read God’s mind. However, it is not important to answer that question. Instead, you should take care to be penitent and to have a mindset that is repentant.
With that settled, you can now focus your energies on solving the problem. The step-by-step problem solving strategy outlined in this article will guide you calmly through those challenging episodes.

One-way love

Being love sick is not fun. It distracting and debilitating.

You may be in a situation in which you feel that the passion and affection between you and someone special is flowing in only one direction – FROM you and not TO you. This feeling can be quite depressing. The fact of this unreturned love and affection is constantly in your thoughts and saps your energy.

One huge problem with being in a one-way love affair is the hopelessness that envelops your entire being. The relationship that you desire is not happening and there seems to be little that you can do to improve your situation.

The following step-by-step process is guaranteed to bring you some relief from your heartaches and assist you in returning to some sense of normalcy. Be warned this is tough going.

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