What makes us quit; what keeps us from doing so
I thought I might share with you a recent article I just sent out to my parents at Heritage Christian Schools in September of 2009. It is a message I introduced to my staff when they returned to school this fall concerning how to handle the hurts and wounds of life. I hope it can minister to you as it did to me when I was preparing it.
Last week during our Spiritual Emphasis Week here at Heritage Christian Schools, case there were several spiritual lessons discussed and taught – all relating to our school’s theme of: Be Lion’s for God. Aside from the most obvious instruction about being bold as a lion when it comes to one’s faith, there were five others lessons, too, with each letter in LIONS representing one of them: Lovers of God, Inspired to Learn, Open to Others,Never to Give Up, and Saved to Serve.
Out of all of these lessons, the one that has meant the most to me of late is the N – Never to Give Up. Before I launch into the nitty-gritty of what I would like to share, there are a few facts about lions that might be helpful to know. First of all, lions are very powerful animals, fearless, and hang together in large social groups called prides. On average lions weigh between 175-200 pounds, can run as fast as 65 mph, and hunt cooperatively together in groups to hunt down any animal they want. They are unmatched by any other animal, which is perhaps why they are called the king of the beasts. An additional fact which directly pertains to this article is how lions handle hurts and injuries. When they are wounded, which often happens when they are in a fight with another animal, they know how to retreat to a safe area where they can lick and nurse their cuts and gashes. During their recovery, they also receive a lot of help from lions in their pride until they are well. They never give up as other animals often do; they just don’t give into not being the king of the beasts.
We should want to be like the lion when we get hurt – that is, never to give up no matter how deep the wound. Of course, our hurts and wounds are much different than the lion. They are hidden hurts of the heart not the body. The injuries we suffer come from a variety of causes…like the loss of a loved one, the breakdown of a marriage or friendship, rejection by others, damaged relationships, the end of a job or career, financial setbacks, broken dreams, debilitating or terminal illness, and loss of hope.
These emotional scars often take a lot longer to heal than the physical ones a lion recovers from. As an example, when I was a graduate student working on my Master’s degree at the University of Wyoming, I was put in charge of the graduate dorm. This was during the Vietnam War era, so many of our new students were not freshman coming in from high school but damaged young men coming in from the battlefield. The school did not know where to house this new brand of freshman. They were too old to be with the younger students, so they decided to put them with me even though they were not graduate-level students. Now, needless to say, many of these men had some pretty horrific battle scars (some still had hand grenade fragments protruding from their skin), but their biggest wounds were not on their bodies but in their hearts
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. During their Vietnam stay, many were deeply hurt by what they had experienced and encountered and in great need of spiritual and emotional healing. But there was good news for these men then, as there is for you and your children now, in regard to the hurts and wounds of life. What I was able to share with them in part, I share with you in greater detail.
Once again let me restate loud and clear there is good news for you when you are hurting, no matter how wounded you are or may become in the future!!! And this goes for your children too, who will be learning about how to deal with their own hurts as they watch you go through them.
The first part of this good news is that there are numerous passages of Scriptures to turn to when you are hurting…like Psalm 34. To find others, ask for help from those you go to church with. You might be surprised at how many they can point you to.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18
Secondly, there are many steps in Scripture to follow when it comes to recovery. I have picked four that have helped me the most. Hopefully, they can help you too.
Step 1: Reveal your hurt to God
If you truly want to recover from whatever injury you are suffering from, you need to reveal this hurt to God. You may say, “Well, He already knows about my hurt. I’m not telling Him something He doesn’t already know.” Yes, that is true, but He wants you to tell Him anyway – in any fashion you see fit. Get it out on the table with God; tell Him how hurt you are and how you feel about it. He can take anything you say, and won’t love you any less for how it is said or expressed. By comparison, it is similar to your own children coming to you about a hurt, one that you already know about. If you are a good parent, you will gladly listen to what your children want to reveal. And if you are a super parent (like God is to you), then you won’t be thrown by anything they say, but will love them no matter what. God wants to hear your hurts, so don’t hold back if you want to get healed. Remember and repeat this little praise as often as you can, “Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing.” What does God do in response? He may forgive you if that is necessary, or He will lead you to parts of His Word or to others who can help. One way or the other, God will get you on the road to recovery.
The cords of death encompassed me and the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. In my distress I called upon the Lord. Psalm 18:4 & 6
Step 2: Reveal your hurt to others
After you have revealed your hurt to God, seek out some good friends or family members whom you can trust and share your hurt with them. Keeping your feelings to yourself is not wise, in comparison it is like a wounded lion refusing to share his injured condition with the other lions in his pride who can help him.
David throughout the Psalms displayed his willingness to open up about his hurts to others. When he writes he holds nothing back from anyone.
My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me, fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. Psalm 55:4-5
Even though you may never be able to open up to as many as David did, you still need to share your hurts and wounds with a few – those who know Christ, those who will be there for you no matter what you have done or suffered, and those who will keep what you have shared confidential.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. The righteous is a guide to his neighbor.” Proverbs 12:25-26
Step 3: RELEASE those who have hurt you
This third step is perhaps the most important of all because it deals with the hurts and wounds that come from others. If you don’t know how to deal with those who have hurt you, then you will never fully recover. If the lion for instance was unable to do what is necessary to take care of an injured leg, then he would have to walk with a limp the rest of his life (or worse). Thus, he would never be able to run again, hunt, or do most of the things that sets himself apart as the king of the beasts. And so it will be true of you and your children, too, if you can’t effectively deal with those who have hurt you. Like the lion you will walk with a limp the rest of your life, but one that is an emotional or spiritual wobble. So in order to get rid of this limp, you need to free yourself from any resentment toward others who have hurt you, no matter what they have done. In order to get rid of resentment, which affects the heart toward revenge like no other, you must forgive those who hurt you. Now, realize you do not have the strength to do this on your own – only God can help you. And the way you get His help is to simply say, “God help me forgive this person just as you have forgiven me so many times for the hurtful things I have done to you.” And then somehow God does it within you. Sometimes, He gives you a reason to forgive that person; at other times, He just miraculously puts it within your heart to do so. You may need to ask Him again and again with certain people – especially with those who have deeply hurt you. This is because even as a born again Christian you still have within you the inclination to always revert back to what you really wanted to do in the first place, which was to get even. But each time you pray, you will get further and further away from giving into this inclination. Should you decide not to forgive (and I strongly counsel against this), then you will never recover from your hurt. You will walk with a limp the rest of your life. So you must decide, do you want to get well or do you want to get even? You can’t do both as the Scripture teaches.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge. Romans 12: 17-19
So, as those who have been chosen of God put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:12-13
Remember, God knows your hurts better than you, and He knows how to deal with them better than you. So let Him do His work, and in the in-between time, rest and get well. You want to return to full health as soon as you can, so that you can continue with God’s plan and purpose for your life, just as the lion wants to return so he can take his role and place again in the pride.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”Jeremiah 29:11
Step 4: Refocus on the future
Once you have recovered from your hurts, move on to what God has for you next. Put the past behind you and let God make the rest of your life the best of your life. Adopt Paul’s attitude toward past failures, hurts, and wounds as expressed in his letter to his fellow Philippian believers.
“….One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
A Last Thought
Never To Give Up is the title of this article which simply means don’t quit because others or life circumstances have hurt you. The key to not quitting is handling your own set of hurts in life. Many of the most renowned leaders were only successful because they could handle theirs.
For example, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who held England together during World War II, was constantly ridiculed by his classmates when he was a child. He just didn’t fit in like everyone else because he was uncoordinated, talked with a lisp, and considered a weakling. On top of this, his father rarely gave him the time of day. Yet, because he was able to deal with his hurts and wounds, he was able succeed to become one of Britain’s greatest leaders.
Abraham Lincoln is another example of one who suffered many hurts and wounds by others throughout his life. Aside from losing many more elections than he won, he also endured the embarrassment of going bankrupt, was constantly made fun of for his looks, and hanged in effigy by those who hated his stance on issues. Yet, he survived and did not quit, somehow dealing with the hurts and wounds of life.
Then, there is D. L. Moody, one of the greatest evangelists in American history who was just as well known in the 1800s as Billy Graham is today. Yet, in his early days Moody was made fun of for his inability to communicate. So poor was his grammar and knowledge of the Bible, he was rejected for membership at the Mount Vernon Congregational Church. How embarrassing! How hurtful! However, Moody was able to overcome these hurts and wounds along with many others cast at him and did not quit.
Now, I am not completely sure as to how each of these men specifically handled their hurts. Out of the three, Moody most likely followed the Scripture and steps I mentioned in this article. Regardless, the point is…too succeed with what God wants for you and your children, you need Never to Give Up. In order to do this, you must learn how to handle the hurts and wounds of life. I have given you a few Scripture-based steps to follow. There are many others – all in the Bible. If you have trouble finding them, try asking someone you attend church with to help. If needed, you are welcome to send me an email, and I will be happy to help as well.