I've spent enough time sorrowing with family and friends to realize many of us have experienced deep hurt by those who, for whatever reason, have demonstrated difficulty in moving toward us and loving us with the compassion of Jesus. Whether unable or simply unwilling to step out of the comfort of their own world, our frame of flaws and failures is met by their silence and their distance. And when our sincere request for forgiveness or reach for reconciliation is dismissed by that silence, the hurt runs especially deep.
Though this shunning comes with a sting of rejection, it's a sharp sting that can be used to powerfully engrave the message of the gospel more deeply upon our heart. Echoing the words of mercy with every cut, God can beautifully use the relational distress to make us more fully alive to His love that is pure and perfect and powerful enough to plummet the full depth of our darkness. With every cut, He can more fully open our eyes to the great mercy that is ours through a Suffering Savior who is the one true Healer of our Heart.
With wounds crying for grace, God can powerfully use relational hurts to recalibrate our focus and renew our vision to love others like Jesus. Experiencing the warmth of His hand of mercy in the cold silence and space, our broken hearts can be saturated with compassion for others in a way that they never would have been otherwise. And to that compassion, God can secure a strength of confident joy that shatters the silence with echos of love enough for us to forgive ourselves, to move forward, and to more gratefully embrace the blessing of those who have the loving grace to receive us and rejoice in us.
God's mercy never leaves us alone in the cold silence of the night. His boundless love will always reach the darkest and deepest recesses of our sin and never ever run dry. His patient lovingkindness will never be weakened by our flaws or wearied by our failures. Never ever. He is a friend who will always stick closer than a brother. A true friend who will forever love at all times.
My heart isn't selfless and humble enough to even begin to love others like Jesus. But His beautiful hand of mercy in the midst of my own relational suffering has filled me with an ever-increasing desire to extend the compassion to others that He has so freely extended to me. But I don't have enough virtue within me to love others like this. My flesh and my self-righteousness will fail me the second I'm met with that person whose violation of my senses or breach of the law (God's or my own) touches a matter that is simply too discomforting for me to extend mercy, grace and kind compassion. My sinful flesh will have me shunning them, meeting them with my hurtful silence and space.
So I praise God for the darkness of relational hurt that has given me increased sight to His light. I praise God for increasing my awareness that I need Jesus. That I need His mercy and grace. That I need His compassion. And that I need His forgiveness. In other words, I praise God for increasing my awareness that I desperately need a righteousness that is not my own. The passionate desire of my heart is to love others like Jesus, but my need is to have Christ live and love through me.
I'm skilled at being wise in my own eyes, and as a result I far too often have foolish responses that reveal the seflish ambition of my heart. God knows what it takes to humble me, mercifully eroding my earthly wisdom of division and replacing it with the heavenly wisdom of peace.
My husband shared the following verses with me this morning, sweetly reminding me of the power of the Word to painfully and yet beautifully slice right through the pride of my heart: