We’ve all had people that our hearts cry out to save from bad decisions. I have personally watched Christian friends slip into the world, committing both spiritual suicide with themselves, and spiritual murder with the things they did with others, and encouraged others to do. And those times have been the most painful of my life, bar none. A lot of that pain comes from the pain of knowing what I’ve been, and the damage I’ve caused in the past.
The pain is devastating because there is nothing you can do. You cannot be the conscience for someone who wants his or her conscience to be seared. Even if a veneer of godliness is applied to their lives, so that they can look at their fake reality and call it real, the poison runs deep and is killing them.
What do you do? Do you delete such a person from your life? Do you utterly abandon them?
I have often done that. I don’t think it’s right. It was my selfish way of protecting myself from pain. I once encouraged my mother and sister to abandon someone who caused them great pain and tears. They refused. Instead of letting the person simply get off easy, they were loving but also truthful. Their efforts were met seemingly forever with rejection and cruelty.
And yet God says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalms 126:5)
Who wants to sow a field with such effort that it causes them to cry? Isn’t it easier to just abandon that plot and more on to easier territory?
My sister and mom didn’t. They sowed in tears. Eventually, the person they loved changed. Hard times came. Rock bottom was hit. This person was abandoned. And suddenly, the person realized that through everything she had done, despite the evil of it, two people were still compassionate. Compassionate despite the way they’d been treated. And indeed, none of the person’s actions had been more than passing pleasure. And in the end, my mother and sister reaped with joyful shouting.
Compare that with two of my own examples. Both times, I saw someone reverting back to their old friends and old ways, including drinking and driving. Both times, I said, “That hurts me and is repulsive behavior. You’re otta’ my life.” And both these people, now, are fully surrounded by the world, molded into it as a part of it, horrifically deep. Now when I attempt to say, “Hey, I care about you,” I have no weight behind the words. Because I gave up. Instead of being loving but correcting, I threw away anything, including hope, no matter how small.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Are you like that? If you persist in love, will you not remain green? Are you afraid of the pain, and willing to wilt away from hope and caring? There is only one way to bear fruit, and it is through persistence.
Sometimes, however, when you are persistent people will reject you. It happens. As my friend Rio once told me as a wake-up call, and this is paraphrased “Sometimes nothing you do can reach people, and you’ll be consumed.” You have to know when that point is, but you can also make the conscious decision to not simply and utterly reject them.
The truth with the person struggling is that we do not know if they will be overcome, or instead shall be overcomers. We cannot make the call with their struggles, or with their futures. We cannot condemn their hearts, but can see their difficulties.
And more importantly, sometimes people have to hit utter, rock bottom. They have to be at the lowest, where the sun does not shine, before they decide they don’t want to be in the pit.
God tells us that a struggle is present, and that it shall not come without weeping. For our struggles, for our help, and for the struggles of others, it is often true that much pain must be endured before we conquer.
In Isaiah 66:8, God confirms this and says, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.”
New birth does not come without pain and persistence, but we have to maintain the hope of beautiful things to come. We must have the attitude that we would, “wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Romans 9:3)
And if you’re sad, hurt, and damaged, remember, “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:20) When you’re feeling darkest and down in the dumps, dwell even stronger in the Word.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:9)
Let me know if I can serve you, and no matter how bad you might feel, recognize how valuable you are. I sure do.