What do you do when people offend you?

One thing I’ve had to really work on is my response and reaction to people who go out of their way to offend me, purposefully try to impede progress, who outright disrespects me, and those who virtually have zero manners and upset me because of their ignorance.

c551ce45e10aed57520dbc5b5ae1c3a2How do you handle things like that? I know in my earlier years I always had a quick comeback and snarky comment ready for those exact moments to use them. Other times I laid awake devising up a quip to throw back at just the precise moment to throw the proverbial pie in the face. Most often, I’ve had the chance to just be silent and let the silence speak for itself… ignoring someone who wants to do verbal battle gets under their skin just as bad as a severe tongue lashing throw-down. 

I’ve had to learn to keep my mouth shut in many situations because my snarky comments and unabashed head-on tongue lashing only added fuel to the fire, and I became aware that I was stoking a monster set on everlasting fire. I had to realize that me saying something was them accomplishing getting under my skin, and I couldn’t stand that they were able to ruffle my feathers. However, when I remained silent and did not succumb to the tit-for-tat play that they wanted, the fire and bite was never that bad or lasted that long, and eventual boredom set in… 

Today I had a strange thing happen to me… First of all, let me back up and give some historical context about the situation.  I’ve been working out with a trainer for a little over 1 year… from September 2015 to present. I’ve paid this person weekly for performing this service, and had been having buyer’s remorse, but feeling empathetic, I just stuck with the program. Off and on, this trainer would not show up or text to let me know they wouldn’t be able to make it. Very rarely would I have to do a rain-check or inform them I would not be there to train… mind you, I gave ample time to inform this person (2-5 hours versus the 2-5 min heads up that I would get whenever they couldn’t make it). 

“It is what it is!” That was my mentality… I’ll just take whatever you got because doing it on my own wasn’t cutting it. So I was happy just to have someone train me… Anyways, as the months and weeks wore on, I learned that he had skin cancer and would have to be out due to being sick or whatever… I accommodated. He wouldn’t show up some days, and I’d realize that 5 min into our scheduled time when I didn’t get a text message… no problem, “it is what it is!” So I just took it upon myself to work out on my own. I have never been a no-call-no-show. I have however, been unable to make our standing appointments, but as I mentioned earlier, I have always informed him ahead of time. Today, was another unfortunate time where I have come down with an ailment… an allergic reaction to something that makes my hands and feet swell up with a rash… so I told this trainer… the one who couldn’t make it on Friday, but texted me ahead of time to make sure I could come, then to turn around and text me 10 min before our scheduled time to say they couldn’t make it. The same trainer who didn’t text me or show up for 2 days, without an explanation… I digress… so today I let them know I wasn’t going to be able to make it.  This person says, “this stuff pisses me off more than you know. There is a term in Pittsburgh we say about stuff like this, “jag off” and it fits.” So of course, being the young person that I am, I look up the term, “jag off” and it means that you are an annoyingly selfish a**hole. So my first emotion that hit was anger… ‘cause I just felt like he was trying to offend me. Second, I re-read it because then I thought, well maybe he didn’t really mean anything by it… but the meaning of the term is clear about what that person means when they use it.  Third, I wanted to delicately explode on them with articulate words to basically blow their ignorance out of the water. 

1d835882f7f543e444303542fe2baa5dHowever, I have come to the conclusion where silence is golden here… however, my actions will be priceless. Here will be my opportunity to share the power of God… and I have to ensure that what I do next is impactful, in a gospel sense. Do I turn the other cheek? Do I feign ignorance? Do I respond tacitly with a cool response that will ensure they never speak out of turn again? Do I terminate the relationship because they have now disrespected me, and for that I have no tolerance? Was it all a misunderstanding? Should I even get clarification?? All of these things are running through my mind as I read and re-read the text message. Again, I need to be powerful with my actions… in considering, what would Jesus do in this situation? As I’m thinking about WWJD, I wonder how that could even apply because Jesus would know that person’s heart… he would know what their motive was… he would know more than I can know… and so it would be unfair to try and figure out what Jesus would do when Jesus would already know the past, present, and future of this person… but I digress… 

a39956242e2f8e99ba9bc03d40fa2cacThe Christian spirit in me wants me to forgive and forget. Brush it off as just something old people say, and move on. The parent in me wants me to say something, get clarification before I take something the wrong way and just gain understanding before making an assumption. The person I’ve become through my life experiences wants to immediately respond with such an articulated, grandiose, black woman educated vernacular (aka Angry Black Woman) that I don’t even think he would understand. I went back and forth on this decision all day to say or not say something… I conversed with a few close friends to gather more understanding because I could just be overreacting, so I waited. Silence. The next time I was supposed to meet him, he was there… and I found out that he was talking about doctors, not me… so my lesson is learned… take the Christian way… give the benefit of the doubt and follow up with clarification as need be… and save the scathing, well articulated, emotional tirade for something that is an obvious affront to my person. Sometimes it’s better to be late on the trigger than to give in to your hot emotions prematurely, which could lead to ruination to a part of your oikos without even realizing it. a3594e7fc7a93e91de840822c314b780

Why do the wicked prosper??

I know most of us are wondering what in the “h-e-double-hockey-sticks” is going on around here in our world. Our glorious U-S-of-A is crumbling around us, and it seems as if we are unable to prevent the eventual fall and demise of our global standing in the world. How did we get here? Why can’t we stop the destruction and hate that’s going on right now? Why are “good people” suffering right now? Why are the wicked prospering and succeeding in terrorizing people of this land??a58f26e6fcf5abc233660ed57d9d82cf

There are more questions than answers right now for many of us, and quite frankly, I’m not sure what we can do about it. It seems as if our protests and our voices are being heard, but not in the direction or with the impact in which we would like for it to be. Our cries and screams for justice is going up and coming down with no impact… our prayers, our tears, our hopes, our fears are being crushed and realized all at the same time.

How does the wicked prosper?? I have been wondering for so long why “bad people” can sail through life doing as they please without any obvious repercussions. It unnerves me to no end to see how these usurpers are destroying everything we’ve worked so hard for with a stroke of a pen with no valid explanation given… only lies and lies upon lies… and nothing else. Take it or take it… basically. We can’t leave it because we live here, we are being forced to accept executive decisions and orders being handed down by a wanna-be dictator in training. It is truly disgusting!

fb8f6cb2aa4c47cb139054c69c72c1ccAs I was contemplating writing this, a verse popped up today on my Bible App and the verse says, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall” (Psalms 55:22). I want to take solace in that… matter of fact I need to take solace in that because there is nothing else left for me to do. I am distressed when I read the news, I’m distressed when I check Twitter, I’m distressed when I see reposts on Instagram… and I deleted my Facebook app so I wouldn’t check it and get distressed from that. In all actuality, I would really love to live in a bubble… in a protective layer against all hurt, harm, or danger… but then I think about God’s word… and in the Bible, he says that he does not give us a spirit of fear. We are not to rely on man for anything because when we start to fear man, we are going down the wrong path. Man does not make the rules… although it may seem as if man is having his way with reality, but if we really think about it, man has no control over anything… he can’t control if he wakes up in the morning, and he can’t control staying alive all day… what man is doing is just abusing the assumed power given to him… but as quickly as that power came, it can be taken away.

In the Bible, Jeremiah asked God a question: “You are right and good, O Lord, when I complain to You about my trouble. Yet I would like to talk with You about what is fair. Why does the way of the sinful go well? Why do all those who cannot be trusted have it so easy?” (Jeremiah 12:1)

In Psalms, this topic of the wicked is brought up again, and this is what the Bible says about the wicked.

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.
Soon the wicked will disappear.
Though you look for them, they will be gone.
The lowly will possess the land
and will live in peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.

(Psalms 37)

I realize that God is allowing these things to happen… be it for fulfillment of his promise of his return or something else that prophecy has foretold, but whatever it is, we cannot let fear of man consume us… yes, we should speak out, yes we should protest, yes we should not back down from demanding justice… but also know, that as furiously as we protest and resist wicked and evil, we also should know that God’s purpose and his will cannot be stopped.

de022ce18d310c6c4f4b094dceae4b44In my weekly bible study group, we recently had this topic of conversation come up about why evil and suffering occurs in the world.  As we were studying “Reason for God” by Tim Keller, we came to know the million dollar statement that most people say or think in regards to this topic: “I cannot believe in a God who would allow this evil and suffering to happen to me.” Enduring any type of pain, suffering, or evil is never easy and even harder to sometimes explain to someone who cannot see or refuse to see God’s purpose in everything that happens. Tim Keller suggests that we 1.) Listen compassionately 2.) Respond with empathy 3.) Do not give a reason for the pain, suffering or evil. Even with all of these protests and detainments in the airports, we have to remember to respond compassionately to people who have been affected by this evil and hatred. We have to put ourselves in their shoes and feel what they feel. We should never give a reason as to why this is happening because we honestly don’t know… we just have to trust and believe that God knows all and sees all, and he will not let the godly fall and slip.

We then discussed, “is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Or is he able, but not willing?” Many people, right now especially, want immediate alleviation from the pain and suffering. Most often we don’t understand why this pain and suffering is even being allowed in the first place. Tim Keller states that this question of whether God is not able or unwilling to stop the bleeding has a false premise that preventing evil is better than permitting evil. He also states that this has a false premise that God doesn’t have a purpose in the suffering/evil/pain that’s being allowed. One thing that I’ve realized is that God is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. He will not leave us or forsake us. Yes, this is hard. God never promised our lives would be easy. He did however, promise that we would never be alone. We cannot allow man to be the dictator of our fears, emotions, or thoughts. We have to help each other stay strong, find resolutions and solutions to problems we can figure out and allow God to open those doors and change hearts and minds of people where we cannot.

a32590a43036fa2366841aef24c2fc13God does care about what’s happening! We have to remember, God suffered the ultimate sacrifice of giving his only begotten son to be killed for our transgressions. He had to watch his son be tortured, whipped, prodded, stabbed, and killed without stepping in and taking it away… through that sacrifice, we were made whole! We were given a way into the kingdom of God, to be with him through all eternity. This earth is temporal. It will pass away. We should look toward the future of what is to come and what is in store for us in heaven… we should not give up on justice, fighting for what’s right and fair… but also know that God has our back! “Suffering drives us like a nail deep into God’s love and into more spiritual power than we can imagine.” (Tim Keller) Now that we are all in the same boat, let’s get close to God more than we’ve ever had… and lean on him for strength, guidance, wisdom, and comfort during these hard trials. God has never led us astray, and he never disappoints. b8cc8076444b49065c3419cd8db0ae04

I leave you with this verse to meditate on… and I ask you to pray for our nation! Pray for healing, and pray for strength!

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

(Psalms 1:1-6) 

Praying Through the Pain

344ae2f8d0ae72cb5bd2721f46ccfadcPraying through difficult times can be virtually impossible sometimes. Praying at times where you are barely making it through each day is just a reality in many situations. Every new year, my mother and I choose a different name and attribute of God that we want God to manifest in our lives.

 

The characters we choose from are:

  • NAME OF GOD: Elohim – MEANING: The strong, Creator God
  • NAME OF GOD: Adonai – MEANING: Master Over All
  • NAME OF GOD: El Rai – MEANING: God Seest Me
  • NAME OF GOD: El Shaddai – MEANING: Almighty God
  • NAME OF GOD: Jehovah El Elohim – MEANING: The LORD God of gods, the LORD, mighty, powerful, strong One over all
  • NAME OF GOD: Sar Shalom – MEANING: Prince of Peace
  • NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Jireh – MEANING: The LORD Will Provide
  • NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Nissi – MEANING: The LORD My Banner
  • NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Rophe – MEANING: The LORD (our) Healer
  • NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Roi – MEANING: The LORD My Shepherd
  • NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Shammah – MEANING: The LORD Is There

    Praying and Pronouncing the Names of God – check here for other names of God

Last year I chose Jehovah Nissi and Jehovah Jireh because I needed God to fight my battles and also provide resources especially during this time. The year before last I chose Jehovah Nissi because I was still in need of God to fight my battles. During both years, I prayed that God will manifest his attribute and his name over my situation. The first time, I didn’t essentially allow God to fight my battle… fearfully I felt like I should be the one to step in and do what I could in order to set things right in my life… since I felt like I was “supposed” to do what I could “humanly” do and believed that God would do the rest… but that’s not how it’s supposed to go. True, faith without works is dead, BUT we are supposed to let go and let God… meaning, I should have entirely given over my situation to God, praying that he does manifest himself in all manners of his infinite wisdom and power and move when He says move… and do what he says do… and work in His strength and not rely on my own when it comes to God moving and working in my life. God most often doesn’t work right in front of our faces. He works mostly behind the scenes… he changes the hearts and minds of people, he closes doors that were previously wide open, and opens doors when they seem to be made out of brick walls sealed shut with gorilla glue. We don’t know or can even fathom how God does what he does, but we do know that he works in mysterious ways.

So let’s get back to praying through the pain… How? Why? For how long?

fba899e90e42ffad0cd46dfe3afb118eWhen something devastating happens, is your normal response to pray? Most of us pray because we want something to stop, turn around, or get better… Do we ever thank God for our devastating news or situation? Not really… in all honesty… why? Because it’s uncomfortable and goes against our human feelings… we want pain to stop, we want immediate alleviation, we want a healing, good news, and favor. We often think that God is distant and not hearing our cries.  I recently had my mother tell me that she lost her job. That’s devastating news! I was speechless. I never expected that to happen because she was great at her job. Everyone had nothing but great things to say, and people helped her with everything to make her job easier. To hear in my mother’s voice a tremble as if she was holding back tears, that was hard to swallow. My mother is a very resiliant woman, but she seemed shaken. Shocked. Upset. Disappointed. Devastated. Although she may have said she was “fine” I knew she wasn’t. I knew she felt insecurities creeping up. I knew she felt some sort of self-doubt… that morning she said she prayed to God to direct her steps that day, “and that’s where he lead me”, she said… “right into being laid off.” I instantly wanted to make things better for her, and I tried to share words of encouragement and remind her of God’s promises… especially the names of God that she chose this year, and how He is moving in our lives, essentially because we prayed for Him to do so.

Most times when we pray for something, we have to get ready because God will move in our lives. When God moves it’s most often a very uncomfortable thing… because in pain we grow…in agony we learn… in devastation we become resiliant… in trials we develop patience and endurance. God is definitely moving, but initially it feels horrible and uncomfortable, but we grow. We learn. We move on. We become resiliant. We develop endurance to outlast trivial upsets… and then we share with others going through things we’ve went through in the past.

0b712aee4e58799c5702168fd62d7f66When doors close, we have to be prepared to pray through those trying times. We have to find our strength in God because only he can give us what we need to get through. When we branch out to other outlets we tend to have disarray and chaos and we make life much more terrible than it should be. God is the first and only one who can fix our problems, so why shouldn’t we rely on him only to make things better for us in his own time? We should pray for insight, for some wisdom, for some emotional stability, for understanding, for opportunities to share our heartache with another so that someone else can be encouraged and believe that if they just trust God, their situation will eventually turn around.

So let me share something with someone who may be feeling the pain, suffering, devastation, or disappointments in their life:

WHEN GOD FEELS DISTANT 
 
Does God feel distant? Floyd McClung writes: “You wake up one morning and all your ‘spiritual feelings’ are gone. You pray, but nothing happens. You rebuke the devil, but it doesn’t change anything. You go through spiritual exercises, you have your friends pray for you, confess every sin you can imagine, then go around asking for forgiveness of everyone you know. You fast; still nothing. You begin to wonder how long this spiritual gloom will last. It feels like your prayers bounce off the ceiling. In utter frustration you cry out: ‘What’s the matter with me?’ This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. We all go through it. It’s painful, but it’s absolutely vital to developing your faith. You see, God is always present, even when you are unaware of Him. His presence is too profound to be measured by intellect or emotion. He’s more conceded that you trust Him than that you feel Him. Faith, not feelings, is what pleases God” (Hebrews 11:6). You ask, “So what can I do?” Isaiah answers, “The Lord has hidden himself… but I trust Him.” Focus on God’s unchanging love and faithfulness. Cling to His promises. During times of spiritual dryness, rest on his Word, not your feelings. Realize that He’s taking you to a deeper level of maturity. Any friendship based strictly on emotion is shallow indeed. So don’t be troubled by trouble – God’s grace is still in full force! He’s with you even when you don’t feel Him. His word to you today is, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1: 6-9)