Psalm 27: Sinned Against Again
"Though an army besiege me..."
Your Lord has chosen to keep you here in this world that's been so bent and twisted by the Fall. He's chosen you to live in an environment where there's no perfection to be found. He's chosen you to live as a flawed person among flawed people. He's chosen to keep you where injustice, corruption, jealousy, greed, anger and conflict are everyday occurrences. He's not coated you with situational teflon, protecting you from the disappointments and hurts of a world gone bad. There's no way you and I will avoid being sinned against. There's no way we'll escape being besieged. God's covenant promises to you don't include a "being sinned against" exemption clause.
So, how do you do when you're sinned against, again? Wives how do you do when your husband comes home and treats you harshly? Husbands what do you do when your wife seems more demanding than thankful? Parents how do you respond when your children make a mess of the great family day you'd planned? Workers how do you deal with the fact that that fellow worker has been speaking negatively about you to your boss? What do you do when no one notices how well you've served? What fills your thoughts when that friend has proven to be disloyal once again? How do you deal with family injustice and favoritism? What do you do when the irresponsible choices of others have altered your life, maybe even for the long run? You see, you'll not escape these experiences. Your life won't be free of interpersonal trials and you're responding to them daily in some way.
What's the typical way you respond to being sinned against? Do you give way to fear, trying to conceive all the possible "what ifs," as if figuring out what could happen will protect you from it actually happening? Do you tend to wallow in the "if only's" of what could have been, wishing for outcomes that have already passed you by? Do you bunker down and determine to live self-protectively, telling yourself that you've been taken once and it won't happen again? Are you tempted to strike back in anger, wanting that person to hurt in the way that they've hurt you? Do you tend to slip into your cocoon of silence, refusing to deal with the person who's hurt you? Do you speak and act in haste? Do you allow the failure of others to initiate a new round of doubtful thoughts about the Lord, his love, mercy, and grace?
What do all of these reactions have in common? They make what's happening to you the most important thing in your life. They make your disappointment the saddest thing in your life. They make your feelings the most accurate indicator of how good your life really is. Yet, here's the truth of what's happening in those moments of being sinned against; you've been called to endure those experiences because of the choices of another. You and I aren't in control of our lives, we're not the writers of our own stories. Our individual stories have been embedded in the story of another. We're not the chief actor in the drama that's our own lives. The decisions of someone else are driving the plot of each of our stories. No, I'm not talking about the person who's mistreated you; I'm talking about your Lord. You're facing what you are facing, not simply because of the sin of that other person, but because of the wise choice of a loving Redeemer. The fact is that God has us exactly where he wants us. He never manages a poor schedule and he never gets a wrong address. He places us in interpersonal difficulty because he intends that difficulty to be a workroom of redemption. This was exactly what Joseph understood when he endured the life-altering injustices of his brothers. Hear his words; "You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20) Because this is true you can respond to being sinned against in brand new ways.
Let me suggest four God-centered, grace-recognizing ways to respond to being sinned against.
1. Run to the temple. Run to your Lord, not away from him. Instead of meditating on all the nasty things that you've had to endure at the hands of the person who's hurt you, give yourself to examining, meditating upon, and recounting the beauty of your Lord. Let your mind consider his love, mercy, grace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, wisdom, power, forgiveness, and kindness. Require yourself to consider that this moment may not be a contradiction of his character qualities, but rather a demonstration of them.
2. Remember your place. Your life no longer belongs to you. Your story is no longer just your story. You've been welcomed to the kingdom of another and your life is part of the plan and purposes of that kingdom. Don't allow yourself to begin to think that you're in the center of your universe. Remember, you've been chosen to live for the glory of another, and when you do, you'll reach levels of personal contentment and joy that aren't possible any other way.
3. Learn your lessons. God has you in the painful moment, not simply to reveal himself to you, but to grow and change you through it as well. He's chosen to keep you in this fallen world because he hasn't finished redeeming you. Sure, you long for the grace of release and the grace of relief, and sometimes you do experience these, but primarily this moment is a moment of refinement. The heat of interpersonal difficulty is meant to purify us, something that each of us continues to need.
4. Reflect his light. In these painful experiences, God is not only calling you to submit to his will, but to actively give yourself to the values and work of his kingdom. He calls you to reflect the light of his character. He calls you to suffer in ways that can only be explained by his presence and power in your life. Jesus said it this way, "that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
Remember, you're not alone and what's happening to you isn't an accident. You're the child of the King of Kings, the Creator, the Sovereign God, the all-wise and all-loving Savior. In ways that are hard to grasp, you're being loved. Rest in that love and run to its source, saying no to all those other responses that only add further trouble to the trouble you're already experiencing.