Sometimes life seems like a never ending cycle of hurts.
Trust me, I actually get that.
People we love wound us. People we trust betray us. Life goes wrong.
Sometimes, it goes way, way wrong.
We slowly become wounded and begin to walk away from whatever or whoever we perceive has hurt us.
Walking away from a source of continual wounding isn’t a bad instinct if placed in the proper perspective. Too often , I fear, it becomes tempting to walk away from the wrong thing.
We walk away from the solution to our hurts instead of walking away from the source of our hurts.
We get hurt by church experiences, hurt by other Christians, hurt by family, and hurt by life events– and at least in a practical sense, we end up walking away from Jesus.
I believe the most important reminder we can give ourselves is to remember the truth that Jesus isn’t the one who did that.
We all have a “that”, and I don’t know what your “that” is. But whatever “that” is, I do know one thing: Jesus isn’t the one who did that.
Jesus isn’t the one who wounds, but is the one who embraces the wounded. Jesus isn’t the one who hurts, but is the one who longs to sit next to the one who is hurting. Jesus isn’t the oppressor but instead becomes one of the oppressed. Jesus is the one who chooses to be counted among the outsiders instead with the powerful.
Jesus is not the person, people, institutions, or life events that we functionally blame on him when we walk away from it all.
Jesus isn’t the controlling pastor, the church gossip, or the oppressive clique. Jesus isn’t the cheating spouse, the dishonest employer, or your swindling mechanic. Jesus isn’t the abusive mother, the absent father, or the babysitter who molested you. Jesus isn’t that drunk driver, that freak accident, or that chronic pain. Jesus isn’t the terminal illness, the empty bed, or the sleepless nights. Jesus isn’t the lost job, the negative bank account, or the foreclosed house. Jesus isn’t the wounded relationship, the insufferable betrayal, and the lost years. Jesus isn’t that fire, he’s not that fall, and he sure as hell is not that child-sized casket.
Jesus, I assure you, isn’t any of that.
In fact, Jesus is the opposite of whatever that is.
I don’t know about you, but I have a long list of “thats” in my life. Most days, it’s this that, or the other that, that temps me to crawl into my emotional hole… alone. Sadly, it’s easy to blame that, even subconsciously, on the only one who is not responsible for that.
Jesus, my friends, isn’t that. In fact, I actually believe that he is the solution to that.
Instead of functionally taking it out of him Jesus invites us to get a giant burlap bag, load up all of our “thats”, and let him carry the weight of that for us.
“Come to me– everyone who is tired, burnt out, and who has a load too heavy. Come to me, and I’ll trade off with you… because what I’m carrying isn’t that.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus isn’t the cause of that but one who wants to walk beside you while you’re dealing with that.
So, if your “that” is something that you’re subconsciously taking out on Jesus and is keeping you from following him, can I just remind you of something?
Jesus isn’t that.
He’s the opposite.
this is good, and I know in my heart it is the truth, but I wrestle with it still. All of it comes down to suffering, for me anyway. I believe I have shared before about my 19 years of suffering with a rare and chronic disorder, and how my dad killed himself in my front yard because he was in chronic pain for 3 months, he couldn’t even sleep. my dad is the one that helped lead my life back to Jesus when I was 20. I am 40 now, and for almost half my life I have suffered –to the point of hospitalizing myself twice because I did not want to commit suicide. stories, like Job, completely confuse me. does God allow suffering? why do some people receive healing from Him and others do not –like me? I am tired of the church’s pat answer to that last question. Anyway, you have definitely given me a lot to think about and consider here, in a positive way, so thank you.
It is tough, no doubt about it. I still wrestle with this stuff also from our dissolved adoption, to chronic pain from a surgery gone wrong… no easy way to reconcile it. What gives me hope however, is the belief that this story is moving in a direction where God will one day restore and reconcile everything. I endure the hardships now, waiting for that day– in tension.
thank you, Benjamin. “Surprised by Hope” by NT Wright helped me understand the reconciliation of all things, and how our suffering is not in vain, but has purpose for the New Earth. I just forget that fact way to often. Thank you for reminding me!
I needed to read this today. Thank you so much Ben.
I’m in the midst of working on my teaching about James 1:13-18– “Let no one say when he is tested, ‘God is testing me’… every good and perfect gift is from above.” Your post is perfect for this passage. Thanks.
Sometimes when you blog about things like this it makes me face some of the bullshit that’s made me into who I am today, only I don’t know how to deal with it and it just makes me angry and I want to punch you.
Well, I’m an Anabaptist so I can promise that I won’t punch you back!
Way back on 12 Feb. you identified yourself as a “Christian outsider. At home no where, and out of place everywhere.”
Now you identify yourself as “an Anabaptist,” a member of a tribe.
Why the change?
I’ve identified myself as Anabaptist for a long time. It’s more a way of identifying my core theological beliefs (centrality of Jesus, nonviolence, etc.) than an actual tribe, in that it’s not easy for folks to find a local community of folks with this core set of beliefs.
The art of client recovery. Minus the fundamentalist phrase “bitterness and resentment.” With more therapeutic deism.
Thank you…someday I’ll write another rambling message and tell you about our Benjamin. Yes, that size of a casket is tough to remember.
Yes the size of the casket breaks the heart.
Yes…which is why I don’t care anymore about the size of my home here. Let the pastors and non-profit execs have their big homes…it never satisfies.
This is beautiful and very healing. Thanks!
Jesus also isn’t the Church. It’s important to note that just because someone walks away from church doesn’t mean they’ve walked away from God.
Thanks so much for this post. I print out your posts that I find helpful so I can re-read them, and this is one I’m printing out! I’ve struggled so much with this concept in recent years, that God directly causes or at least allows some really awful things to happen to people. I’ve read a lot and gone back and forth, and I keep having to come back to the conclusion that I’m just not going to be able to know the answer to how that works in this life. However, I can know Jesus in this life, and I can know and trust his heart for me.
Thanks Benjamin, for another excellent commentary. On a related note, it’s good to remember that Jesus isn’t the mean-spirited evangelical troll in the comment sections. I honestly don’t know how you do it, but I’m pleased to know you have maintained a virtually troll-free space here. Many thanks!
I can’t tell you how badly I needed this post today.