Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
This is one of my most favourite verses in the Bible. It spoke to me at a time when the only friends I had were my immediate family who loved me. At that time, I had broken away from the powerful group that I belonged to and refused to do something that I believed to be wrong. I was very vocal and public about my opposition to their schemes. The leaders at the time told me that I would have to pay a price for my breaking away; maybe not right away but in time they would make me pay for my actions. My hot headed anger flung the threat back into the urbane faces of those who uttered it but in my heart I knew that it would come to pass. A few years later, I did pay the price for following my beliefs. Although enduring the ‘payback’ hurt ‘big time’, God delivered me from the worst of it. Praise the Lord!
I admit that even at the time while doing the right thing my heart was prideful. I rode a high horse through the whole thing and my motives were not pure. Anger and pride drove my actions just as much as any notion of doing the right thing for His sake. ‘Tony is not pleased’ was more operative than ‘God is not pleased’ as to the inner motives of my heart. I didn’t think about how my actions might affect my family or those I worked with. When you ride a high horse you end up trampling on those around you. I hurt people who felt as I did but chose another path for their own reasons and I judged them. Through this difficult time I was not always faithful to God. God was (and is) always faithful to me; ” . . . for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)
I had to work through more than a few of my own resentments over the battles I fought going through this. I have learned to do this using AA’s Step 4. Doing this process, I discovered my part in the circumstances; “Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame?” (AA’s Big Book Chapter 5) I realized my pride and arrogance were working overtime through the whole situation. Much of what happened would have been mitigated had I chosen a less judgemental response to the whole thing. That would not have required any change in my personal convictions. Even though I’m not an alcoholic, applying the 4th step in AA’s program to my own resentments has always helped me understand my character flaws. Our job as Christians is to dig deep into ourselves and cry out to God to heal us; “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
So where was the Word of God in my life at this time? Where was my hope in the Lord? My hope in the Lord was where it is now – in me, along with all the other contending anxieties, resentments and prideful attitudes. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are wicked and deceitful – who can know it? And the next verse in Jeremiah tells us that God knows our hearts and rewards each according to what they do about it; “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Like all humans my life is complicated and impure. Yes I hurt my friends and yes I stood up for what was right. I am sorry for hurting those who cared for me. I’m not sorry for sticking up for what I believe is right. That being said, I could have expressed my deeply held convictions in a more Christ like way. Spiritual growth occurs when you realize that even when you’re right you can be wrong. Self righteous pride is exposed in that realization. Healing and restoration of friendships are possible when a person comes to see this and repents of it.
When you’re making your way through a tough time, hope in the Lord. We can count on God; “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6) We aren’t perfect. If you’re like me often you’ll be wrong even when you’re right. Even in my brokenness, I hope in the Lord. I don’t have to be perfect to receive His love and help. His work in me proceeds; “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ecc. 7:8) After many years, I have been able to let go of my resentments and realize that in everything that happens to us, we have a part in it. Reflection and prayer leads to repentance and healing. The Bible tells us; “When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and He shall save the humble person.” (Job 22:29) The healing journey just begins when the arrogance ends!
My wife who was a nurse used to take care of a wonderful old person who always prayed; “Oh Lord, please make me humble.” What wisdom!
Praise the Lord!