Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It Hurts My Heart...But Not for the Reasons You Might Think

I cancelled our newspaper subscription a couple months ago.  I had a few reasons, but my main reason was that all too often I came away from reading the newspaper...specifically the editorial page & letters to the editor...feeling sad, disheartened, discouraged, or frustrated.

There's so much out there to make us feel overwhelmed...and not just in our newspapers.  It's in social media too.  So many opinions.  So many hurting or angry people who lash out at others whose opinions differ from theirs.

And, so many people who reject God.  And many of them seem to hate, or at the very least have serious disdain for those of us who believe in Him.

So, I canceled the paper because it seriously depressed me.  But, the last couple weeks it's been coming to our house again.  I can only guess that this is a marketing strategy by the newspaper to try to woo us back as customers.

I'll admit.  I've enjoyed getting the paper again.  For as much discouraging news & opinion there is, there are also interesting and joyful tidbits.

But, this morning I was reminded of what it was that made me cancel it in the first place.  I was reading the letters to the editor and there was one in there where the author was responding to some earlier letters written by people who were obviously Christians and expressing their Christian views.  This author wrote in to disparage the views he had read in those earlier letters.

His opening line included..." I would note that this country was not founded on religious principles but on the freedom to worship any manmade entity chosen".
Did you catch that?  Any 'manmade' entity.  It immediately clued me in to the direction and the tone that his letter would take.  But, I kept reading.  Here are some additional exerpts from his letter...

"the book of fairy tales known as the Bible."
"The women of this country and the world crack me up: They believe in a silly book that has held them as second-class citizens since fools started reading it."
"In 2007, a poll showed 78 percent of Americans considered themselves Christian. By 2015, such poll results were down to 70 percent. I take great comfort in seeing that the people of this country have gotten 8 percent smarter. I guess it is harder to get people to believe in silly stories when you can’t force them at the point of a sword or business end of a firearm.'

Actually, that was the majority of his letter.  There were only a few other sentences I didn't include.  I came away from reading that letter to the editor feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach.  And, I haven't been able to shake it from my thoughts all day.

The things written by the author of this letter were actually quite mild.  If you spend any time reading comment threads under posts or articles about controversial subjects that appear on the internet, you'll quickly notice the prevailing attitude toward people of faith....and there's a lot of anger and hatred.

I know some of that anger comes from the way that some Christians have abused the name of Christ.  Sometimes wounded people walk into the Church and walk away with deeper wounds than before.

I also know that the Bible tells us that we can expect to be hated, persecuted, and ridiculed.  I know that people will see the Cross as foolishness or a stumbling block.

I know this.  And, yet, it still hurts.

Here's the truth.   Part of why it hurts is because it hurts my pride.  It's no fun to hear people say that as a Christian I must be a fool or a bigot....lacking intelligence or any sense of reason.  It hurts my heart to hear people mock the Truths and the Faith I hold sacred and dear.  I cringe when they take the Name of the One who created our inmost beings in vain....flinging it about as just another cuss word.

But there's another reason it hurts my heart.  It is the reason that it follows me through my day....the reason that my heart is in inner turmoil.

You see, they can call me a fool.  They can call me deluded.

But, what really hurts is when I see how closed their hearts and minds are to God.  I CARE about these people.  I care deeply about those who have rejected God.  And, I don't know how to reach them.  I don't know how to change their minds.

I know that ultimately only the Holy Spirit can change a heart.  But, I so often pray for  or look for the words to say that might plant a begin to open their hearts and minds to the reality of God.

I've taken apologetics courses.  And, they have been great confirmations for me of what I already know in my heart.  There are so many logical, fact-based, science-based arguments for God.  But, I'm not good at recalling a specific argument during a discussion.  And, I'm certainly not as eloquent as some of our modern-day apologists like Mary Jo Sharp, Ray Ciervo, Norman Geisler, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and many more.

I can hear and take in and understand the excellent points that they share.  But, I feel like a total dud when I try to incorporate those points into a conversation.  I'm not a great communicator.  And, I'm certainly not a great debater.  I'm too emotionally driven.  It's too easy for me to become emotional in the midst of a discussion.  And, someone who is truly effective in debate needs to be able to keep their emotions in check.  They need to maintain an attitude of compassion but also to have a clear mind and not allow themselves to become clouded with emotion.

So I think of the many people I know who are atheists or agnostics.  And, I think of those who have placed their hope in a false god.  I think of an entire world of lost people.  And, I don't know what to do.  I don't know how anything I can say or do can put a dent in their unbelief.

I feel helpless.

And, this is so critical.  This is a matter of eternal life and eternal death.

I know I can pray.  And, I do.  I frequently prayerfully intercede for those I know who don't believe.  I pray that God would work in their lives, would reveal Himself to them.

I recently had someone tell me that I am a burden-bearer.  I see the needs or hurts of other people and I feel it deeply in my own heart.  And, then someone else mentioned that burden bearers are also those who are often called to intercessory prayer.

This seems to fit me and my personality and the way I am wired.  But, then, I still question myself.  Am I using prayer as a cop out from actually DOING or SAYING anything?  But, then, I argue with myself again and say that kind of attitude reveals my true attitude about prayer...that it's a nice thing to do but doesn't hold the same power as physically doing or saying things.

And, round and round I go.  I get myself so turned upside down that I'm no longer effective at anything. 

And, so instead of taking the burdens of the world upon myself (only One can and DID do that), I need to keep it simple or I will analyze it to death.  What should my response be?

Pray:  Prayer IS powerful.  More powerful than we realize.  NEVER underestimate prayer.

Love:  Love whenever the opportunity presents itself....a kind word, encouragement, a good deed.  These all go further than we can know.

Speak:  Don't be afraid to speak the truth.  But choose your times to speak wisely and always with compassion.

Trust:  Trust that God's got this.  He knows the hearts of each and every man, woman, and child more intimately than we can know or they can know their own selves.  He is still sovereign.  He reigns.

"I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say:  My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."
Isaiah 46: 9-10

Related Posts with Thumbnails