A Grief Observed: Overlooking Offenses

Something messed me up yesterday morning during service for  a few moments. It was communion service, and as I waited for an usher to offer me a fellowship cup on my left side (I was sitting at the beginning of my row), the usher for my row chose to give me a rough hit on my arm to get my attention, holding the tray of fellowship cups on my right side in between me and the congregant on my right. The usher seemed to have a real irritated look on his face, like he had to go out of his way to offer me the cup, hence the reason this messed me up. I don’t believe he would’ve been that physically demonstrative with someone else. I thought, ‘What in the world could’ve been his problem that I he had to do that?’ ‘What made you feel like you had to do that to me?’ ‘Would it have been terribly demanding for you to gently touch me on the arm to let me know you were holding the tray for me?’ I gave the usher no reaction at all, just took a fellowship cup and turned my attention back to the service. But I couldn’t bounce my mind back in to the peace that I had before.

At this time were in the middle of worship. I found myself dumbstruck. That man needed to be told about himself! I had been grieved. Disturbed. I wanted to open my mouth and sing, but the hurt I felt had me struggling to do so. The hurt and resentment were bubbling. I quickly prayed to God to give me the strength to “overlook the offense” as what a prudent person would do according to Proverbs 12:16. But it was difficult to let go. But because it was difficult for me to get rid of my hurt, I threw up my hands and started singing to God in worship.

I couldn’t overlook the offense with my own power. My self-righteousness wouldn’t let me do that then. So with the rest of me, I just gave up. I chose to focus on my Lord by honoring him. In that moment. Still offended and still hurting.

Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, VA) has this rich podcast  (#32) given by Lysa Terkeurst that reminds us of a few things when dealing with offenses and raw emotions that follow:

  • Proverbs 12:16 wasn’t written for our health. “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” (NIV) I could’ve definitely taken the opportunity to ask the usher ‘Was that really necessary?’, or something that would’ve been spoken very gently but would’ve clearly shown my annoyance, and not my good deposit. When you feel the need to press and address, you have to ask yourself “Am I trying to prove that I’m right or am I trying to improve this relationship?” (I’d drop the relationship part if it was more like an encounter with a stranger like my situation with the usher – focus on simply improving your response) You can’t prove your justification and improve at the same time. Choose the option that honors the Lord.
  • Proverbs 10:19 says “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Pause, take a breath, let the Holy Spirit in and interrupt your feelings when you want to explode, react, or ask a well-framed convicting question. *Wink*
  • Proverbs 10:14 says “Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.” Store up knowledge of the Lord, the fear of the Lord, rather than proof and grief. Don’t let your hurt run and rise over the Lord’s work in you. Surrender your raw feelings to God using the power of His Holy Spirit. Hang on the Holy Spirit for dear life.
  • This wasn’t in the podcast, but here are two prayers you can say when you encounter offense: 1) Lord, purify me in this moment. Prune my pride and self-righteousness from me. Be my one defense and righteousness. 2) Lead me to take my thoughts and feelings captive and surrender them to your power.
  • Adorn and use your full armor, as outlined in Ephesians 6:10-18. Don’t neglect that last part bout praying in the Spirit with on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Stay alert and always keep praying for ALL the saints – that includes the ones that offend you.

Be encouraged! And stay tuned for some new changes to Gab & Graffiti during the week!

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