My book, How to Win When You Lose, is primarily about the losses my husband and I lived through in relation to ministry in the church, future vision, and loss of friends. The lessons, however, are universal.
The preface to this was a quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary regarding pain caused by others, “Let us then consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.” While I don’t agree that the afflictions were sent by God. I do agree that when they come, they can be used for our spiritual good. Here is an excerpt
“Well, to be honest, it didn’t feel spiritual or good. Possibly because we were short-sighted; only seeing the “now;” impatient; wanting everything to quit hurting immediately. That is what it is to be human, and God knows that we are but dust. He is tender and patient with our weakness and limitation.
At the time, we had no idea of the wonderful things God could bring for us out of the pain. The afflictions we were enduring were not brought on by God; however, we wondered why an omnipotent God let this happen (the loss of our church and friends). Why did He tell us one thing and seemingly do another? We had a great deal to learn about God’s ways and methods being higher than ours. When you are in pain, it can be hard to remember that. When I am hurt by someone, I want to blame them. I do blame them! It’s easy to blame God as well.
Can you blame God and be an elder in the church. Of course. (Just listen to King David in the Psalms.) Can you blame a person and still be an elder in the church? Yes. Even though the fight is not against flesh and blood, it was flesh and blood – the malice of men – that had nearly destroyed us spiritually and financially. It left a deep imprint of distrust on the hearts of our children, no matter how much we tried to wipe it away with the Word. In order to be victorious in loss, we had to accept that injustice had happened and that God would redeem it for us. God wasn’t trying to kill us – He wanted to transform our pain, teach us valuable lessons that hold their truth for eternity.
We were eventually able to forgive the other pastor. Forgiveness and the end of pain are not simultaneous; the second follows the first at a distance not determined by the level of your faith. Rather, it is determined ultimately by the unfailing love God has for you, a love that will carry you through your worst pain and piece you back together again, in time.”
Since we have all been hurt by others, by their malice – being lied about or betrayed in some way – we can identify with each other. Some remain in the healing process longer than others and that is partially due to varying levels of pain. The bad thing is that some stay there. After all, it feels good to blame and be angry at the other person who, quite possibly, was totally in the wrong. Our anger may be absolutely justified. However, remaining there only hurts you. The other person has moved on (which may also be quite anger-arousing). Be angry. Tell God all about it and take the time you need to heal – just don’t hold on to all of it.
The best comparison I have found is this. Something happens in our lives creating a pile of stinking pain, anger, bitterness, and destruction. It wasn’t our fault, but there it is anyway. We spend time looking at it, sifting through it, crying and putting into a bag piece-by-piece. If we decide to find healing, we then dispose of the contents piece-by-piece or all at once. If we decide to hang onto our self-justification, we carry a bag of stinking garbage around with us and gradually we begin to stink also. We don’t realize it because we have become so accustomed to it. If someone points it out, we may feel even more justified – after all, they don’t understand.
If years have passed and you still have the bag, they aren’t wrong. It’s time to go to the dump! You do that by turning to your Savior, asking for help, and then doing what He shows you to do. There is a lot of letting go and acceptance that needs to happen. He wants you to be free and unhindered.
The malice of men should never be given the power to enslave us!