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Posts tagged ‘emotional pain’

Anger, Pain and Depression

SOURCE: Nando Pelusi, Ph.D./Psychology Today

Anger, pain and depression are sometimes perceived as one big emotion, but when you don’t distinguish between them, they could end up fueling each other.

Anger, pain and depression are three negative experiences so closely bound together it can sometimes be hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Pain is a complex phenomenon that has emotional and physical components. The emotions play a huge role in the experience of pain, and pain is intimately associated with depression. It’s long been known that the psychic pain of depression feeds anger. But just as often, anger fuels depression.

A powerful emotion physiologically and emotionally, anger often feels good—but only for the moment. It can be a motivating force that moves you to action. But there are good actions and bad ones; it’s vital to distinguish between the two.

Many people confuse anger and hostility. Anger is a response to a situation that presents some threat. Hostility is a more enduring characteristic, a predisposition, a personality trait reflecting a readiness to express anger.

Anger is usually anything but subtle. It has potent physiological effects. You feel it in your chest. You feel it in your head. You feel it coursing through your body.

Nevertheless, anger can be insidious. Anger confers an immediate sense of purpose; it’s a shortcut to motivation. And if there’s something depressed people need, it’s motivation. But anger creates a cycle of rage and defeatism.

When you feel anger, it provides the impulse to pass the pain along to others. The boss chews you out, you then snap at everyone in your path. Anger, however, can eventually lead you into self-pity, because you can’t slough off the self-hurt.

Anger is classically a way of passing psychic pain on to others. The two-step: You feel hurt, “poor me,” “I hate you.” It’s a way of making others pay for your emotional deficits. It is wise to change that tendency. Whether or not anger fuels depression, it isn’t good for the enjoyment of life.

Here are ways to keep anger from feeding your depression.

  • First, of course, is to identify anger and to acknowledge it. Anger is one of those emotions whose expression is sometimes subject to taboos so that people can grow up unable to recognize it; they feel its physical discomfort but can’t label it.
  • Build a lexicon for your internal states. If you have a word for your emotional state, then you can begin to deal with it. Feelings are fluid; you need to stop and capture them in a word, or else you lose them and don’t know you have them. A label improves your ability to understand your feelings.
  • View your anger as a signal. It is not something to be escaped. It is not something to be suppressed. It is something to be accepted as a sign that some deeper threat has occurred that needs your attention.
  • Make yourself aware of the purpose your anger serves. Be sure to distinguish purpose from passion. Things that have a positive purpose seek betterment, growth, love, enhancement, fulfillment. Things that have a negative purpose are motivated by a sense of deficiency. Your boss yells at you, you feel diminished; the anger you express at others is driven by the blow you’ve just received. Are you enraged about an inequity or unfairness?In order to identify your motivation, you need to look within. It’s a matter of becoming psychological-minded and engaging in introspection. Tune into the inner dialogue that you customarily have with yourself.
  • If your anger is deficiency-motivated, driven by a wish to rectify a wrong you believe done to you, work on acceptance. Give up your obsession about the wrong. See that the opposite of anger is not passivity but more functional assertiveness.
  • Uproot mistaken beliefs that underlie your response. Very often anger is the result of beliefs that lead you to place unreasonable demands on circumstances, such as, that life must be fair. Unfairness exists. The belief that you are entitled to fairness results from the mistaken idea that you are special. If you feel that you are special, you will certainly find lots to be angry about, because the universe is indifferent to us.Insisting that life must be fair is not only irrational, it will cause you to collect injustices done to your noble self. Even if you are experiencing nothing more than your fair share of unfairness, such a belief can still fuel rage and lead to depression.Those who hold the deep belief that life should always be fair cannot abide when it is unfair. That leads directly to rage that is totally inert, because they believe there is nothing that they can do about the unfairness. They feel helpless and hopeless—in other words, depressed. Self-pity is another description of the same phenomenon.
  • Notice your own complaining. Listen for both overt and covert complaining. Overt complaining hassles others. It’s really a manipulative strategy. Know when it’s becoming a downer and a barrier to a strategy of effectiveness—like complaining about a fly in your soup. Covert complaining hassles you; it drags you down into passivity and inertia. Once you notice it, determine to give it up.
  • Once you can accept that life sometimes is unfair, then you can pursue positive purpose. You can work constructively against injustices you find, transforming your anger into passion. Or you can pursue fulfillment in spite of the unfairness that exists.

Suffering From REJECTION ?

SOURCE:  Excerpted from Rejection by June Hunt

Favoritism can be extremely painful.

Children catch on quickly when there is a “favorite” in the family. The favored child often comes late in life—late like young Joseph in the Bible, the beloved son of Jacob. In his heart, the father not only favors Joseph over his ten brothers, but also flaunts his favoritism by giving Joseph the infamous “coat of many colors”—a coat Jacob himself has made! Meanwhile, the older brothers seethe with anger at the sight of this richly ornamented robe, which has now become a symbol of their father’s painful rejection. Little did Jacob know that his own favoritism would be the breeding ground for jealousy—the spark that would create a climate of hurt, hostility, and lasting hatred.

“Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” (Genesis 37:3–4)

WHAT IS Rejection?
Have you ever wondered, What was the very first rejection on earth? The first rejection is recorded in the first book of the Bible. God gives Adam and Eve everything they will ever need. He also gives one warning, “Don’t eat from that one tree.” And what do they do? They eat from that one tree! Their direct defiance means that they reject not just God’s Word, but also God Himself (Genesis 2:15–17; 3:6).

• Rejection is the act of refusing to accept or consider a person or thing that is not wanted or not approved.1

▆ When you experience rejection, you feel unloved, unwanted, unacceptable.
▆ The Greek verb apodokimazo means “to reject as the result of examination and disapproval.”2 (apo = away from, dokimazo = to approve)
▆ Jesus felt the pain of rejection. The Bible refers to Christ as the “Cornerstone”—the vital, the most essential stone of a major structure—yet He was the cornerstone (or capstone) the builders rejected.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” (Matthew 21:42)

• To be rejected is to be cast aside, cast off, cast away—to be thrown away as having no value.3

▆ When you are rejected, you can feel useless, abandoned, worthless.
▆ The Greek verb atheteo means “to do away with, to set aside, to cast or throw away as useless or unsatisfactory.”4
▆ Jesus challenged the Pharisees and teachers of the law because they were rejecting the laws of God.

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” (Mark 7:9)

• To reject someone means to despise, refuse, shun, turn away from.5

▆ If you reject others, you use your attitudes and actions to reveal the condition of your heart.
▆ The Hebrew word maas means “to reject, refuse, despise.”6
▆ Because God has given each of us free will, we may choose to reject the Word of God and even God Himself.

“The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:9)

QUESTION: “My father died six years ago, but I’m still having trouble dealing with the anger I’ve had toward him. He was partial to my brother, but treated my sister, my mother, and me like second-class citizens. I tried to please him with my achievements, but we never communicated and he never recognized my accomplishments. How can I stop being so controlled by my anger?”

ANSWER: Anger has four sources: hurt, fear, frustration, and injustice. The anger you describe comes from at least three of the four. The rejection you experienced is very hurtful. Seeking to please him and never achieving recognition is extremely frustrating, and being treated in a negative way simply because you are a female is most unjust. The truth is that his treatment of you had nothing to do with you, but everything to do with him. He was the one in the wrong. His inadequacies let you down. Recognize this truth and turn loose of your expectations regarding him. Admit that your father was unable to be loving and accept him simply for being your father. Choose to forgive and release him to God so that your anger does not produce bitterness in your own heart.

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).

WHAT IS Acceptance?
Joseph understood rejection. Although he was his father’s favorite son, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. Imagine Joseph as a teenager—he suddenly finds himself jerked out of his comfortable home, only to be carted off to a foreign country to live as a stranger, to live as a slave! The grief of losing his family must have been frightening.

Still, Joseph accepted the will of God in his life, which enabled him to accept the sovereignty of God over his life. In spite of one betrayal after another, Joseph refused to become bitter. Instead, he accepted his circumstances by humbly entrusting himself to God.

As years passed, Joseph rose to a position of highest respect and power. When his brothers journeyed to Egypt in search of grain, they found themselves at the mercy of Joseph. Immediately, he knew who they were—but they didn’t know who he was!

Did he take revenge and refuse to give them grain? Did he send them off with grain, but not acknowledge them as brothers? Did he extend his hand of help, but insist they bow before him?

No. Joseph refused resentment—he accepted his brothers despite their past betrayal. By inviting them to become part of his life once again, they knew his acceptance was not merely conditional, but rather unconditional. And, in truth, his acceptance was possible only because of the condition of his heart—his heart of true forgiveness, which allowed him to focus on the future, and his heart of true commitment, which enabled him to let the past stay in the past. (Read Genesis 37:12–29 and chapters 41–45.)

• To accept someone means to approve or to receive that one favorably or willingly.7 We should receive and value others because of their God-given worth.

▆ Your acceptance of others is based on the disposition of your heart, which, in turn, is expressed through your attitude and actions.
▆ The Greek word proslambano means “to accept, receive, welcome.”8
▆ Jesus Christ provides the supreme example of acceptance. The Bible says we are to accept others the same way Christ accepts us.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)

WHAT ARE Three Levels of Acceptance?
When we reject someone, if we look closely, we may find that we are repeating the same rejection that we ourselves have received. The same is true of those who have learned to be accepting of others. Typically, we give what has been given to us. However, your past rejection need not determine your future. You can grow in your ability to become more and more accepting—even when you yourself have been rejected. The Bible says …
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18)

The Three Levels of Acceptance9

1 Zero Acceptance

• “No matter what I do, I’ll never be accepted.”
The person who totally rejects you harbors deep hurt and bitterness and extends no grace and mercy. But the Bible says …
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31–32)

2 Performance-based Acceptance

• “I feel accepted only when I perform perfectly.”
The person who accepts you based only on how you act demands, “You must meet my requirements,” and rarely offers grace and mercy. But the Bible says …
“Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13)

3 Unconditional Acceptance

• “No matter what I do, even when I fail, I always feel accepted.”
The person who accepts you—especially when you fail—lives with a heart of grace and mercy and reflects the heart of God. The Bible says …
“Show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

QUESTION: “Can an authentic Christian be rejected by God?”

ANSWER: No. Based on various verses in the Bible, an authentic Christian who has truly trusted in Christ will still sin but will never be rejected by God. If you find yourself fearful of being forsaken by God, claim the following truth from God’s unchanging Word:
“For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.” (Psalm 94:14)

CHARACTERISTICS OF THOSE FEELING REJECTED10
The teenage years can be replete with life’s most painful rejections. Because of severe insecurity, young people crave acceptance from others and often overreact to any rejection.
By age seventeen, Joseph felt the sting of rejection from his older brothers. But, in truth, Joseph played a part in causing his brothers’ jealousy. Although God had given Joseph a special ability to interpret dreams, Joseph unwisely disclosed a certain dream to his older brothers which implied that one day they would all bow down to him. Speaking these words was not smart on Joseph’s part!

“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.’” (Genesis 37:5–7)

How insulting! How impertinent! How arrogant! Resenting the implication that Joseph would “lord” over them, his brothers continued to be filled with an animosity that eventually reached a boiling point. These brothers, who felt such intense rejection, in turn took revenge and made sure that Joseph would pay dearly. Joseph’s brothers did not realize that although some say, “Revenge is sweet,” it can also leave a bitter aftertaste. That is why the Bible says …
“See to it that … no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)

ARE YOU Controlled by the Fear of Rejection?
If your sense of self-worth is based on the approval of others, you are on a runaway roller coaster with no ability to control when you are up or down. Your feeling of value is at the mercy of what others think about you. Your sense of identity is determined by how others respond to you. To get off this uncontrollable roller coaster and conquer your fear of rejection, allow the Lord to control your life. He created you and established your worth when He made you in His image. As you put your trust in Him, He will turn your fear into faith because …
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

Messages of One Who Is Addicted to the Approval of Others
If you think you may be living for the approval of others, honestly evaluate the following statements to see if they reflect your self-talk.

• “I am not good enough.”
• “I have to try harder.”
• “I have to earn your love.”
• “I have to be perfect.”
• “I can never please you.”
• “I always feel stupid.”
• “I am always the one at fault.”
• “I am not acceptable in the eyes of others.”
• “I know that what I think isn’t important.”
• “I know there is nothing likeable about me.”
• “I don’t deserve to be loved.”
• “I don’t feel anyone could really love me.”
• “I don’t feel that God could ever love me.”

Even though you may think these thoughts are true about yourself, they don’t reflect God’s truth. The Bible says …
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

The Fear of Rejection Test11

If we feel controlled by the fear of rejection, then our focus will be on being “people pleasers.” However, we need to say what the apostle Paul said:
“We are not trying to please men but God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

If you are uncertain whether or not you are living for the approval of others, answer the following questions honestly to see if you live with the fear of rejection.

• Do you avoid certain people out of fear that they will reject you?
• Do you become anxious when you think someone might not accept you?
• Do you feel awkward around others who are different from you?
• Do you feel disturbed when someone is not friendly toward you?
• Do you work hard at trying to determine what people think of you?
• Do you become depressed when others are critical of you?
• Do you consider yourself basically shy and unsociable around others?
• Do you try to see the negative in others?
• Do you find yourself trying to impress others?
• Do you repeat negative messages about yourself to yourself?
• Do you look for clues as to how others are responding to you in order to avoid the pain of rejection?
• Do you say “Yes” when you should say “No” to others?
• Do you expect others to respond to situations and conversations in the same way you would?
• Do you hear people saying that you are a “codependent person”?
• Do you experience hypersensitivity to the opinions of others but insensitivity to your own emotions?
• Do you often feel overly controlled by others?
• Do you struggle with anger and resentment toward others?
• Do you seem to be easily manipulated by others?

If you conclude that you have been controlled by the fear of rejection and you have lived for the approval of others, take this verse to heart:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

WHAT ARE Inner Symptoms of Rejection?12

What are the ramifications of rejection? Perhaps you’ve been unaware of its subtle impact on your soul (your mind, will, and emotions). One obvious assault that rejection makes on your soul is an altering of your own self-perception and the inevitable insecurities that seem to arise out of nowhere when someone painfully turns away from you. That rejection can sear the deepest part of your soul and at the same time “mess with” your mind, taint your thoughts, and make you question your ability to function normally. But God, who knows every rejection you will ever encounter, never planned for you to be emotionally or spiritually disabled. Although you will be rejected, the Bible says …
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The following are many of the classic symptoms of those who have been rejected in the past and as a result have a fear of future rejection.

• Ambivalence—“I have difficulty making decisions— if I make the wrong decision, I could be rejected.”
• Anxiety—“I have real apprehension when someone says, ‘Trust me.’”
• Bitterness—“I harbor bitterness toward those who rejected me and toward God, who allowed it to happen.”
• Depression—“My heart feels so heavy. The pain has pushed me down.”
• Distrust—“I can’t really trust others not to desert me.”
• Escapism—“Life hurts. I just need to numb the pain.”
• Fear—“I live in fear of being rejected again.”
• Flat emotions—“My heart is so deeply hurt that I can’t seem to feel excited about anything.”
• Guilt/false guilt—“I feel so bad about myself. No wonder I was rejected.”
• Inability to accept love—“Even if others say that they love me, I know it’s not true.”
• Inferiority—“I know I’ll never measure up!”
• Insensitivity—“I can’t feel for others who are in pain.”
• Introspective—“I’ve got to keep analyzing what’s wrong with me.”
• Low self-worth—“I know I’m not worthy of being accepted.”
• Resignation—“Whatever will be, will be, so why try?”
• Self-condemnation—“I feel terrible. I know I’m to blame whenever I’m rejected.”
• Self-pity—“I’m always ignored. No one reaches out to me.”
• Self-rejection—“I wish I’d never been born!”
• Withdrawal—“I’m not willing to be vulnerable again.”
• Worry—“I’m afraid I’ll be scarred for life.”

WHAT ARE Outer Signs of Rejection?13

The unseen pain of rejection can sabotage your soul and shatter your spirit; however, the outer signs of rejection are easily seen and even felt by others. When someone special walks out of your life, the joy of living is snuffed out like having a wet towel thrown on a lit candle. The darkness of desertion can discolor your perception of others and do untold damage to your relationships. The saddest part of it all is that rejection breeds rejection!
In truth, no one can avoid being rejected or treated unjustly at times. However, when you remember that your identity is in the Lord, because of your relationship with Him—not in your having been rejected by others—you will experience the truth that you, like Paul, can be …
“ … hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9)

Many of the outer signs of rejection are:

• Abuse—Mistreating others and even yourself
• Addiction—Seeking solace in addictive behavior in an effort to numb your pain.
• Anger—Feeling bitterness toward others and even toward God
• Apathy—Giving up on life—not caring about anything
• Arrogance—Acting superior to others
• Competitive—Assuming, I have to be the best
• Critical spirit—Being condescending toward others
• Defensive—Arguing with others for self-protection
• Dominant—Controlling others and situations to an excess
• Exaggeration—Bragging to impress others
• Hatred—Loathing (primarily directed toward yourself)
• Isolation—Becoming a loner as a means of self-protection
• Jealousy—Resenting suggestions and successes of others
• Legalism—Complying with rigid rules based on black-and-white thinking
• People pleasing—Trying too hard to please others
• Perfectionism—Feeling like a failure unless you do everything perfectly
• Performance-based acceptance—Believing your acceptance is based only on how well you perform
• Rebellion—Resisting the authority of others
• Subservient—Cowering in the presence of others
• Undisciplined—Lacking self-control and boundaries around others
• Vengeful—Getting even with others

WHAT ARE Thoughts, Feelings, and Vows?14
When you experienced painful rejection in the past, do you remember rehearsing repeated thoughts, feelings, and perhaps even “vows”? Unfortunately, these repetitious thoughts (I’m not accepted) and emotions (I feel unwanted) lead to an illogical conclusion (I vow that no one will hurt me again).
How we live our lives is based on what we believe. Therefore, if we believe we are rejected, we will live a life of rejection in our minds, our hearts, and our emotions, even when we are not outwardly rejected by others.

• Repeated Thoughts:

▆ “No one loves me.”
▆ “No one cares about me.”
▆ “I don’t really matter.”
▆ “I’m not good enough.”
▆ “I don’t fit in.”
▆ “I’m not accepted.”

• Repeated Feelings:

▆ “I feel empty inside.”
▆ “I feel all alone.”
▆ “I feel insignificant.”
▆ “I feel like I’m not worth anything.”
▆ “I feel unwanted.”
▆ “I feel excluded.”

• Repeated Vows:

▆ “I’m not going to get close to anyone again.”
▆ “I’m not going to let anyone be important to me again.”
▆ “No one will ever hurt me again.”

This progression demonstrates the importance of taking your thoughts captive, training your mind, telling yourself the truth. You are accepted by God; therefore, allow Him to heal your heart from the pain of the past. If you will cancel the vows that are contrary to God’s Word, you will experience perfect peace in your life.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

———————————————————————————————————————–
Hunt, J. (2013). Rejection (june hunt hope for the heart). Torrance, CA: Aspire Press.

Forgiving the One Who Hurt Me

SOURCE:  Living Free

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

If you are divorced or have recently experienced a broken engagement or separation, you probably are having painful feelings of rejection.

The sense of loss felt in these situations can be overwhelming. You thought you were secure and now you suddenly find yourself on your own. You might even have children to care for and inadequate resources of time and money.

Even though you have been rejected by someone very close to you, your attitude toward that rejection is your choice. You may choose to allow the pain of rejection to dominate and define the rest of your life, causing bitterness, depression and self-pity. Or you may choose to forgive the one who has hurt you, to accept your singleness—at least until God leads you in a different direction—and to move on with your life … making the most of each day.

Even with positive choices, the pain won’t immediately disappear—but it will begin to heal. The time and money challenges will still be there, but you will be able to start dealing with them.

We live in a society of “quick fixes,” but recovering from this kind of hurt is a process. Learn to take one step at a time, trusting God to strengthen you and allowing him to love you.

Father, help me to forgive. You have forgiven me of so much, even though I didn’t deserve it. Help me to forgive and to begin rebuilding my life. I know I can only do that with your strength, your love and your guidance. Thank you for freely giving me all this and more. In Jesus’ name …

7 Suggestions for Processing Pain

SOURCE:  Ron Edmondson

What’s a great way to process (emotional) pain?

Here are 7 biblical ways:

Expect God to use pain for good – Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28

Use it to comfort others with similar pain – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Reconsider your perspective on the pain – Romans 8:18

Receive the honor of suffering pain – Philippians 1:29

Accept the normality of pain – 1 Peter 4:12

Celebrate His sufficiency during pain -2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Look for the reward in suffering through pain – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

How we respond to emotional pain is a choice we make.

The promises of God are real, even during our times of suffering. In the earliest days of any trial, we may not see any of these truths at work. That’s okay. We are frail people. The key is as we move forward, what we do with the pain in the days to come. Painful times are not going away in this earthly life. Jesus told us that. Learning to rest in Him is part of maturing as followers of Christ.

Suffering reminds us that His grace is sufficient for all our pain. In fact, though I don’t completely understand it, His power is perfect in our weakness, but only when I surrender the pain to Him.

We are not intended to handle pain alone. Thankfully, by His grace, we don’t have to.

Are you learning to “cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you”?

Hide the Pain, Suffer Longer

SOURCE: Adapted from  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Most of us are very selective about the parts of our lives we voluntarily bring into God’s presence.

We hesitate to bring traits that we consider shameful … partly because we actually believe He doesn’t see them, and partly because we are ashamed to even think about them again. Some of us are so used to living with pain, loneliness, guilt, fear, anxiety, and stress that it never occurs to us to ask God for help in dealing with various elements of these problems. We assume help is not available and that the pain is an unavoidable guaranteed sentence from which there is no relief.

You see, it’s as if we believe we can accumulate degree-of-difficulty points (like in diving) for overcoming hardship and pain, commonly called the martyr syndrome or victim mentality. Many times I notice people trying to one up each other by making their own path harder, then even bragging about it. “You think your life was hard, wait till you hear this” kind of mentality.

For many, pain of some kind has been such an integral part of growing up that, in a weird way, it is hard for them to navigate life without the pain, almost waiting for the other shoe to drop, feeling they don’t deserve any luck or good fortune. People like this seem to sabotage success, and even go out of their way to create problems. When  we are preoccupied with our struggles, we can even forget God is with us and will provide help.

God really desires to heal the hurting parts of your life.

However, some of the pain has been with you so long, it becomes part of your identity. Sometimes, we are so addicted to certain painful patterns that we find it difficult to break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to God’s healing presence and applying His instructions in the BIBLE will bring you long-term healing and freedom.

Today, turn to your Lord when you are hurting. He will share and reduce your pain.

Remember, the Bible is the book about suffering, especially spiritual suffering. The Bible tells how God loved us so much that He miraculously provided a way for ultimate healing. He also has many promises for the smaller daily sufferings we experience. Turn to your Lord when you are in pain and rejoice in these circumstances as you remember that He is with you. He has joy, peace, and comfort, as well as a message for you. He is communicating to you through your pain.

How you deal with pain is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I am so grateful to You, Lord, grateful that I can come to you no matter what condition I am in … just as I am. Thank You, Father. I am relieved that I don’t have to “clean up my act” before I come to You; You already know the worst about me. When I am hurting, I want to be with someone who understands me without condemning me. When I am happy, I delight in being with someone who loves me enough to celebrate with me. I pray that You help me bring more and more of myself to You. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who divides my pain and multiplies my joy, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 

Psalm 126:3

 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 

Romans 8:1

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

1 Peter 5:6-10

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, and recover sight to the blind, and to set at liberty them that are bruised,  Luke 4:18

The Gift of Forgiveness

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick

Forgiveness is the oil that smoothes over the rough spots as two people struggle to love when it’s hard and become what God calls them to be. When we keep score on marital wrongs, love is impossible. Although some excellent books have been written on the subject of forgiveness, I still find in my counseling practice a common misunderstanding of what it is. When I asked one client how she will know she has forgiven her husband for his adultery she replied, “When I don’t hurt anymore.”

Getting past the emotional pain caused by someone who has hurt you is a reasonable goal, but not a prerequisite for forgiveness. In fact, it was while Jesus was in pain he forgave those who abused him saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness doesn’t remove the hurt or the consequences that sin has inflicted upon the victim. Sometimes the life-long consequences are worse than the original sin.

For example. Susan wasn’t honest with her husband about how much debt they were in. She had started her own business just a few years earlier and the expenses were much greater than she had ever anticipated. Instead of sharing that burden with her husband, Susan kept it to herself and tried to resolve the household cash flow problems by taking cash advances on all the new credit card offers she received.

When the creditors finally started calling the house because of unpaid bills, Danny hit the roof. Although it wasn’t easy, eventually Dannydecided to forgive Susan for her deceit and pride even though he stillfelt hurt and angry. They had to file for bankruptcy. They lost their home and Susan’s business. If Danny waited until he felt no more anger or pain before he forgave Susan, their marriage may not have survived. The consequences of Susan’s deceit was devastating and would impact their lives for years.

Extending the gift of forgiveness doesn’t guarantee an absence of pain. Neither does it imply an automatic restoration of the relationship. Sometimes we confuse forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is something we can choose to offer because of who we are. God tells us we are required and empowered to forgive because we have been forgiven, not because the other person deserves our forgiveness or has even asked for it. In fact, it is often the person who has hurt us the most that never asks us for forgiveness. They are not sorry, or they simply don’t care.

Forgiveness is choosing not to hold onto our right for justice or vengeance. We cancel the debt they owe us. In order to be able to do this we must free our heart from the bitterness and resentment we often feel when someone has wounded us. Although love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 3:8), there are times that reconciliation of the relationship depends upon the genuine repentance of the one who has sinned. 

When we sin, God eagerly desires to forgive us, but our relationship with him is broken until we repent. In order to move back into right relationship with God, we must acknowledge our sin, turn away from it and seek his forgiveness. Like God, we too must extend the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt us, but for true reconciliation to take place, repentance and forgiveness must work together.

Part of Susan’s repentance involved cutting up all credit cards, allowing Danny to handle the checkbook and being accountable for all expenditures. The restoration of their marriage relationship involved both Danny’s decision to forgive and Susan’srepentant heart and behaviors, leading to their eventual reconciliation.

As fallen human beings, forgiving someone is not something akin to our nature. Justice and revenge come more naturally. We can only truly forgive someone if we learn how to do it from the great forgiver himself—Jesus. Part of seeing what God is up to when our spouse acts wrong is understanding that God teaches us how to become more like Jesus through this process. For how do we ever learn how to forgive if no one ever hurts us?

There is wonderful freedom in knowing we do not have to react to a painful wrong either by shutting down or retaliating. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, we become a reflection of who he is in us rather than a reflection of what others have done to us. Gary Thomas author of Sacred Marriage writes, “We will be sinned against and we will be hurt. When that happens, we will have a choice to make: We can give in to our hurt, resentment, and bitterness, or we can grow as a Christian and learn yet another important lesson on how to forgive.”

**The gift of forgiveness as well as the other gifts are from chapter 9 of How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong (WaterBrook, 2001).

Why Endure a Pain-Filled Marriage?

Editors Note:  The author of this article states he was inspired by reading a review of three new books about Abraham Lincoln (Books and Culture, Sept./Oct., 1995, p. 6).

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by John Piper

Lincoln’s marriage was a mess, and accepting the pain brought deep strength in the long run.

I write this not because it is wrong to seek refuge from physical abuse, but because, short of that, millions of marriages end over the agony of heartbreaking disappointments and frustrations. They do not need to, and there is much gain in embracing the pain for Christ and his kingdom.

Our culture has made it acceptable (and therefore easier to justify) divorce on the basis of emotional pain.  Historically, the misery of painful emotions was not a sanction of divorce in most cultures.  Marriage durability—with or without emotional pain—was valued above emotional tranquility, for the sake of the children and the stability of society.  In Christianity such rugged, enduring marriage, through pain and heartache, is rooted in the marriage of God to his rebellious people whom he has never finally cast off.

“Your husband is your Maker … For the Lord has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you” (Isaiah 54:5-7).

Lincoln brought debilities into his marriage to Mary Todd.  He was emotionally withdrawn and prized reason over passion.  She said that he “was not a demonstrative man … When he felt most deeply, he expressed the least.”  He was absent, emotionally or physically, most of the time.  Before his presidency, for years he spent four months each year away from home on the judicial circuit.  He was indulgent with the children and left their management almost entirely to his wife.

Mary often flew into rages.  “She pushed Lincoln relentlessly to seek high public office; she complained endlessly about poverty; she overran her budget shamelessly, both in Springfield and in the White House;  she abused servants as if they were slaves (and ragged on Lincoln when he tried to pay them extra on the side);  she assaulted him on more than one occasion (with firewood, with potatoes);  she probably once chased him with a knife through their backyard in Springfield;  and she treated his casual contacts with attractive females as a direct threat, while herself flirting constantly and dressing to kill.

A regular visitor to the White House wrote of Mrs. Lincoln that ‘she was vain, passionately fond of dress and wore her dresses shorter at the top and longer at the train than even fashions demanded.  She had great pride in her elegant neck and bust, and grieved the president greatly by her constant display of her person and her fine clothes.’”

It was a pain-filled marriage.  The familiar lines in his face and the somber countenance reveal more than the stress of civil war.  But the two stayed married.  They kept at least that part of their vows.  They embraced the pain, even if they could not or would not remove it.

What was the gain?  God will give the final answer.

But here are two historical assessments:

1) How was it that Lincoln, when president, could work so effectively with the rampant egos who filled his administration?  “The long years of dealing with his tempestuous wife helped prepare Lincoln for handling the difficult people he encountered as president.”  In other words, a whole nation benefited from his embracing the pain.

2) “Over the slow fires of misery that he learned to keep banked and under heavy pressure deep within him, his innate qualities of patience, tolerance, forbearance, and forgiveness were tempered and refined.” America can be glad that Abraham Lincoln did not run from the fires of misery in his marriage. There were resources for healing he did not know.   But when they fail, embracing the fire is better than escape.

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