Self- esteem (4)

Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. (Isaiah 53: 1-3)

A few days ago, I was thinking of people who rejected and despised me, feeling the pain anew, when this scripture came to my mind. And it was good. Knowing that Jesus, the Author of life and faith, the One without sin, the perfect and holy One was despised and rejected comforts me, brings me some peace.

The past is the past. I cannot change it, but I can stop feeling guilty and trying to become that person who will never be rejected and despised again. And that is where what Jesus went through makes all the difference. What did He need to do to be accepted and respected, to have men’s esteem? Change? But changed what? Perfection? It helps to understand that when people reject and despise you, it is not because you don’t measure up, it is because they don’t measure up. Because like you, they are sinners in need of mercy.

Yes, I am not a beautiful soul every day. I am a miserable soul every day in a way or other. I sin more than I would like to. However, if someone rejects or despises me because I am a sinner, it is just that they have forgotten who they are. Just like I forget who I am when I reject or despise people because they are not who I think they should be. And I am not talking about someone refusing to repent. And even then, there is no place for reject and contempt. The goal is their repentance, not to act as if they were unworthy of us.

How many people have you cut off without taking the time to speak with about the sin that makes you distance yourself from them? How many people did you look down on because their sins were not the same as yours?

Thinking of Jesus being despised and rejected helps me understand I am not a problem even though I have issues. But it also helps me understand that others are not problems even if they have issues. And even when they treat me badly I should love them because that is what Jesus did for all who despised and betrayed Him, for you, for me, for all of us as the verses 4 to 6 of Isaiah 53 say: “Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.

No, you are not the problem, but neither are others. We all have issues, problems, those things called sins, and Jesus took care of them in love, with kindness, compassion, mercy and patience.  So who are we? Needy and loved people whom the King of kings, the Holy One pursues with love and will never reject.

Remember what the Lord said: “and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37.)

 

A compassionate God

Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36 HCSB)

Some versions say “compassionate” instead of “merciful”. Being compassionate defines someone who has “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. ” And Being merciful is to provide relief.

What the verse above tells us is that when God sees us in our difficulties and sorrows, He wants to help us, comfort us, and soothe us. And because He is who He is; because He is not powerless, He does it: He provides us with relief. How does He give us that relief? Here is an example.

You certainly know the story of Gideon. God called him and sent him to fight against the Midianites. But he was afraid.  So God told him “Get up and go into the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant. Listen to what they say, and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp.” (Judges 7 9-11 HCSB)

God felt a deep sympathy for him. God understood what He was going through. When Gideon went to the camp, he listened to a conversation that gave him courage. God reassured, strengthened him because he needed it. But God went further. He told him to go with his servant. He did not shame him for being afraid, but instead provided him with solutions.

And since God doesn’t show favoritism, there are no reasons it won’t do it for you, no reasons it won’t do it for me.

 

Happy New Year!

Here comes the New Year. I made it spiritually alive! I have been carried by an almighty God and I made it thanks to His strength. If I could remember only one thing from this year, it would be that God is merciful. I learned that His mercy is a part of His holiness. He is not holy, then merciful and compassionate and forgiving. His kindness is part of His majesty. Isaiah 40, this great chapter telling of the greatness of God, begins describing it by exposing His goodness. God’s goodness is His glory. Let’s read it.

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11)

God is so merciful that He longs to show us mercy.

I have heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:18-20).

And if there is something I want to take with me in 2015 is that God’s way is different from mine. His way is a way of compassion and forgiveness. He is ready to forgive because He is different. My God is different. What a blessing!

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9)