We love to talk don't we? When someone hurts us or makes us angry we are all over that with our words, our opinions, and spouting things we shouldn't say. Words hurt. They cut like a knife into our heart, leaving a gaping wound that takes forever to heal, especially when the knife just keeps going in repeatedly deeper.
Hurt people, hurt people. Plain and simple. Just a few days ago while at our post office I pulled in a little crooked while my son ran in to get the mail. He comes out with a package! One of those brown ones full of books I love to get! Well, I began to open it. No one was by us, so I knew I had time. As I looked through the other mail, a man pulls up in a big car, honking his horn. I don't mean just a little tap to let me know he was there, but blaring on it. At first when I looked up I thought it was a friend just playing, but no, no friend here. With his window down, I wave, and say, "Oops, just a moment." He didn't like that very much, as he started cursing through his open window. Now, part of this fleshly girl wanted to open my door and tell him exactly what I thought, but I didn't. I sat there, looked at him, and said, "Sorry", while he was still screaming at me. Now, don't go thinking I really took the high road there, cause in my mind, well, lets just say, he was being dragged out of his car and slapped over the head! But in that moment I kept my mouth shut. I didn't yell back, but moved so he could get to the outdoor mail box. I don't know, maybe he didn't get sleep, maybe he had a really important package to deliver. I could just maybe all day long, but in reality, he was just rude, and crabby.
We can make all kinds of excuses for our behavior can't we? We love to blame it on others. We like to play that place it and face it game, only we would much rather be placing the blame than facing it. It's easy to point the other finger at another, saying they were wrong. But we don't just do that, we speak about them, we even shout about them. There is something about being hurt, that just changes us, making us hurt others. I am not even sure if we mean to, if we really know what we are doing. I think the point is, when we are hurting, we just really don't care.
Now, see, I can point the finger at this man and say how wrong he was, but if I look at the big picture, even though we live in a very small town, everyone knows each other, and most are so gracious, I wasn't suppose to park there, even for a second. But since no one was there, I did, and if I had been doing what I was to be, the whole episode could have been prevented. Now, I am not making excuses for the man either. His behavior was ridiculous to say the least. To him, I interrupted his day, his plan, and I was in his way. For me, I was just picking up my mail, and going to town with my son. As my son sat there, he was not happy about this man cursing at his mother. (Our sons get very protective when they get older) But I quieted my son, and shared with him that in that moment the best thing to do was just drive away. Nothing I said to this man was going to help the situation. There are times it is best to walk away, saying nothing, but being in prayer.
I am sure there were times during trials I have gone through that I might not have been smiling Sally either. Hurt has a way of changing us. Hurt brings us down into depths we didn't know existed until we are there, feeling alone and as though no one cares.
In John 19 is where we find Jesus on the cross. Another place where we witness Jesus on the cross is in Luke 23. The verse that speaks to me today is verse 34, "Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." And the soldiers gambled away His clothes by throwing dice." In this picture I can choose to see the ugliness around Jesus, the name calling, the beating, the blood, all those shouting things about our Savior, mocking Him, and tearing His clothes. I can see this picture before me of all the anger around Him. The people who choose to not believe. Those selfish, mean and hateful people shouting, cursing, and degrading Jesus were not seeing what others were seeing. They were not seeing their precious Savior upon the cross. They saw a man, a threat, someone who they didn't like. But instead of seeing the ugliness, I choose to see the beauty. Although there is no beauty in death and blood, it was that shed blood that saved me, that freed me, and removed the chains of this world. I see obedience, I see hope, and I see love. Jesus didn't mock those in return. He didn't shout to the roof tops telling them how wrong they were. He didn't hurt those in return who were hurting Him. In reality He was showing the love He had for them, they were just not willing to see it. Even as Jesus hung there between two others, criminals, He didn't scorn them. In fact He spoke and said, (verse 43) "I assure you, today you will be in paradise with Me."
Listen to verses 35-42 "The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. He saved others, they said, let Him save Himself if He is really God's Messiah, the Chosen One. The soldiers mocked Him, too, by offering Him a drink of sour wine. They called out to Him, If you are King of the Jews, save Yourself! A sign was fastened above Him with these words: This is the King of the Jews. One of the criminals hanging beside Him scoffed. So Your the Messiah, are You? Prove it by saving Yourself-and us, too, while Your at it. But the other criminal protested, Don't you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn't done anything wrong. Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom."
I can't imagine what sour wine would have tasted like, but I have had a sour taste in my mouth, and leaves an after taste doesn't it? We seem to take our hurts as though we are the only one who has been hurt, but we forget to look upon the hurt our Savior took that day. Those who knew Him, were on their knees, weeping. Those who didn't were laughing it up, watching with smiles. But Jesus says, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are are doing." (verse 34a) He didn't say, "Get them! Don't let them into heaven!" Jesus forgave, and He loved. Jesus looked beyond Himself and His pain. He looked to us, those He loved, those He came for.
In all of our hurt, there has never been one to come before or after that took more pain and suffering than Jesus. He shows us through not only His life, but His death how to live, how to love and forgive.
If you are holding onto an offense today, let it go. Let it go and let God work through that offense and offender. Allow Him to work in you to bring healing and peace. We are to pray for one another, lift one another up, and when those offenses come, don't hold them in our hearts, allowing bitterness to take root. Bitterness is like a cancer that will slowly eat you alive.
We have a choice my friends. We can take the offense and hold it, or we let it go, knowing we are a child of the King. God works through all things. We can't change others, but we can change ourselves, and that is the best place to begin. We can change how we receive another and how we react to all circumstances. If we look to Jesus, He will show us the way, just as He did upon the cross. On the cross is where we find forgiveness and love. Allow the Lord to heal your heart today. Allow Him to wash over, washing you with grace for yourself, and grace for others.
Proverbs 17:9 "Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends."
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged."