You know that expression that claims bad things tend to happen in threes? Well, I’m not given to superstitions. I’m not into following patterns or clichéd expectations. Nevertheless, I did experience a trio of terribles in the past few days. Maybe you’ve had such unpleasant intervals in your own life.
First, someone rifled through some of my stuff in a spot where I’d expected it to be safe. Nothing was missing, but more than a few things were totally wrecked. The damage seemed to be perfectly pointless.
Next, I noticed some significant scratching on my car (see photo). I’m pretty sure I know when and where this happened, and I am earnestly trying not to connect the dots to the first incident.
Photo by LAN/Heart of a Ready Writer. All rights reserved
If those two things were linked, it could point to something truly terrible.
Third, someone near to me has broken trust again. And, although that isn’t exactly an unexpected thing at this point, it’s still a whole lot worse than a couple of possibly random vandalisms.
You might say this whole series of disappointments has left me feeling sort of damaged, dented, and deceived. It would be easy to build a nest in the valley of unwelcome, unacceptance, and unforgiveness.
I’ve been wronged, worked over, and wounded. There’s no denying that.
And it’s left scars of various sorts.
But Jesus knows. My Lord understands scars (see Isaiah 53:4-6). And I believe He weeps – not just for me in my little season of momentary woes, but for those who certainly must carry so many deep hurts that they feel the need to harm others.
Although it may be tempting to take all of these dirty tricks personally, perhaps they really aren’t about me at all.
What sort of inner anger, pain, and shame causes people to abuse or misuse those around them? What force of wickedness draws individuals to make mayhem or misfortune for anyone else?
We know the answers to that question.
We live in a sinful and hurting world.
Sin isn’t just a list of evil deeds. It’s a disease that afflicts mankind (see Isaiah 64:6) and weighs people down. It divides us. It can make us feel agitated, angry, ashamed, cruel, discouraged, dissatisfied, envious, frustrated, greedy, grouchy, hopeless, insecure, lonely, mad, mean-spirited, miserable, overwhelmed, resentful, sad, scared, and even sick – whether we realize it or not.
People struggle under burdens they need not carry. They wrestle with guilt and shame and sorrow and regrets, maybe not even knowing relief can be found. So they sabotage others’ security, fly into foul play, demonstrate deceit, and create casualties (minor or major), simply because they cannot figure out how to unload the unpleasantness under which they stagger.
What might happen, if so many wounded people came to realize that God offers grace, forgiveness, peace, and freedom from blame and shame?
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, NIV)
God help me.
Now I sit here with scars on my soiled and stained stuff, scars on my car, and scars on my spirit. But He knows, and He hears. He offers healing to restore my soul. And He promises to turn my pain into prayers, my irritation into intercession, and my suspicions into sympathy for those who struggle so severely that they cannot help but inflict their own inner injury upon others.
If I will let Him.
I think sometimes God sends a song that fits a struggle so neatly. Here’s an example.
From the song:
“Give me Your eyes for just one second.
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing.
Give me Your love for humanity.
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted,
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.“Give Me Your Eyes,” by Brandon Heath