When you blog here it says….”Share your story here” and as you begin to type, those letters are replaced by your story.
It is time to share a bit of my story over the last six or so months. I do this so that you understand why I was asking God the questions I was asking. Asking things like, how did the disciples continue on when so terribly persecuted. How? I mean really, how? I have heard many things taught over the years, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, you will have what you need if this happens, etc. This is true yet, that wasn’t enough for me in this season of my life. I needed something more, a deeper understanding.
The reason I needed this answer is because over the last half year I have seen and heard some pretty horrible stuff. This stuff comes at the hands of Christians. Shunning, character assassination, lies, division, and purposeful destruction-even to the point of trying to negatively impact jobs/businesses. Otherwise known as spiritual abuse.
I had never heard of spiritual abuse, it is one of those nasty little secrets that those that are perpetrating it want to sweep under the rug and pretend it is not happening. Yet it is important for this to come out into the light and be talked about otherwise healing will not happen. Just like in any family where any type of abuse is occurring the problem must come into the light to be dealt with. We, as a society, do not tell people to stay in an unhealthy family situation where abuse is happening. So why in the world would we encourage people to stay in an unhealthy church situation? We need to encourage them to get free from any and all abusive situations. It is time for the church to look at what is happening within the four walls. Not every church has this problem but I am sad to say I have heard of so many people that have had a similar experience to mine. And it breaks my heart.
All of these things I listed above happened to myself and my family-shunning, character assassination, lies, division, and purposeful destruction to the point that people that still attend this church are afraid to see us in public places and actually run away to avoid us. It is laughable now when it happens but it has been also very painful. All of this happened because I……….I really am not sure why. To this day I have not been told by any of those that are in leadership why exactly my family has been treated this way. I could make guesses, but relationship is not about guessing it is about communicating. Not only did this happen to my family, but other families who were only trying to do the right thing and love my family as Jesus would. They choose not to shun, to talk to us about what was happening, to get both sides of the story. All of a sudden whole families became blacklisted from the church just because they choose to ask questions and not shun my family. What this created in others, left in the church, as they saw some of this play out is a fear to reach out to people, which is nothing like what Jesus would do. It also has allowed the abusive cycle to continue. Absolutely crazy! Sadly though, it happens more often than we hear about. There are many others with a similar story at the hands of these same Christians. It is like a bad story that keeps repeating itself. I was a part of this abusive cycle, but now my family and I are thankful for God rescuing us.
So, I thought my question to God was a valid one. I and many others have been hurt, persecuted by the very people who you think should “know better” and yet don’t. It is so sad. Am I mad, sure. Am I hurt, sure. Has this been easy, definitely not. Yet, God has and always will be faithful. I have been told: people will fail you but God never will. This is true. I understand that Jesus said we will be persecuted because of Him. I understand that. I think we never think it will come from inside the four walls of church. Yet, sadly it does.
This weekend as I was asking again, “How Lord, how did the early believers suffer such horrible things and continue on? I mean they suffered really horrible things.” He said, “it is the “Divine Exchange”. I said, “I understand that You were my Divine Exchange on the Cross.” He said, “Yes, I was and I still am. The disciples learned to exchange their mourning for My Joy, their pain for My healing, their loss for My gain and on and on. The Divine Exchange.” That is why Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 4. It is especially good in the Message version. Here is a bit:
Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory……So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:15&16-18 MSG)
So for me, at this moment, I now understand that by His Grace I have been walking in this Divine Exchange daily, sometimes moment by moment. As I hear of things said or done regarding me; my family; and/or my friends, I have needed God’s Divine Exchange. Is this easy, no way. Is God always there, yes way! So, I am looking at Him and He is Divinely Exchanging for me. I am not doing it. He is, as I turn my face to His.