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How Should a Christian Respond to Hatred and Hostility?

Seeking to follow Christ will often lead to being wrongfully criticized and hated. Jesus said to His followers, “I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19). And the Bible says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). So how are we to respond to hatred, hostility, and persecution when it’s directed at us?

Enduring wrongful hatred is something that God both requires and rewards. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And in Luke 6:22-23 He said, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.”

Christians should avoid unnecessary conflict (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; 14:19), but there will be times when conflict can’t be avoided (Matthew 10:34; 1 Peter 2:19-21; 3:13-17; 4:12-16). Jesus said that His followers would be hated and persecuted (Luke 21:17; John 15:18-21). Merely seeking truth and living by the light exposes darkness in the lives of others and incites hatred (John 15:22). An obedient life forces people in rebellion to face their sinfulness and need of redemption (Isaiah 30:9; John 9:39; Romans 2:8).

The Bible clearly articulates the proper Christian response to hostility. For example, when we are cursed, we are to return a blessing in return (Luke 6:28; Romans 12:14). When we are forced to do something we don’t want to do, we are to go the extra mile (Matthew 5:41). If we “suffer for doing good” we are to “endure it” (1 Peter 2:20). These responses are hard to do, but they demonstrate that something supernatural is motivating us, something that transcends mere human nature (Matthew 5:46-47).1

When we return good for evil, we follow the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:20-23). Our enemies will be taken off guard, even stunned. They expect (and probably desire) an angry response. Our anger would be natural, and would confirm their sense of control. But a gentle response would be unnatural, even incomprehensible.

Jesus offers no guarantee that a humble response will soften our enemy’s heart. Although our enemy might be puzzled, a truly evil person may be angered further. He might renew his attacks with even more tenacity. But there is also a chance that our foe may be disarmed, intrigued, and drawn to faith.

It’s no wonder that the apostle Paul exhorted Christians to:

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12:16-20).

  1. One reason is that we seldom know for sure why we are being hated. It flatters us to believe that it is entirely a matter of being “persecuted for righteousness sake” (Matthew 5:10). But realistically, the good that we do is often mixed with selfishness, jealousy, pride, and self-protection. If we are honest, we realize that there are times when our enemies are rightly putting their finger on something ugly in us, and are angered by our sin.
    Still another reason we should be willing to be good to our enemies is that we ourselves have benefited from God’s grace and are indebted to God’s love (Matthew 18:23-35). God offered us mercy, even when we unfairly hated Him. We who have experienced the miracle of God’s unconditional love should be the first to strive for peace, resisting the impulse to condemn (Matthew 5:22; Romans 12:10). Back To Article
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How Do I Cope with the Pain of My Divorce?

Divorce is never easy. It is a painful, heart-breaking experience for everyone involved. Families are torn apart, leaving confused, angry, and hurting children. No one “wins” in divorce.

When you first begin to go through a divorce, your main thought is survival. You want to “just get through” the excruciating pain and keep up with life. Your heart feels like it is being ripped out, but life goes on. You must go to work, pay your bills, clean your home, and continue to parent, which some days can seem like an impossible feat.

Divorce is such a shock that many try to survive it through denial. Denial is a way of shielding your heart from harsh feelings of rejection, despair, and betrayal, which can temporarily help you absorb the initial trauma. Consciously or unconsciously, you may be telling yourself, “This really isn’t happening.” You may convince yourself that your spouse is bluffing. You might even avoid telling anyone that your mate has left you or intends to.

As the painful truth begins to sink in, support from family and friends is vital. Be encouraged to tell trusted friends what you are thinking and feeling. You should not attempt to endure the pain of divorce without the emotional and spiritual provision of your friends and family.

Once you have faced the fact that a divorce is inevitable, you will have many overwhelming feelings. Anger, sadness, rejection, and feelings of betrayal invade you without warning. It is important to allow yourself to have those feelings. Don’t try to cover or numb your feelings with something like food, work, or another relationship. We all may be tempted to suppress our feelings on occasion. But allowing yourself to experience your feelings will promote healing, not thwart it. If you are more committed to avoiding your pain, chances are high that you will experience these painful feelings inappropriately later in life and in different relationships.

These times of emotion can be opportunities for you to know God in a more intimate way. Allow God to comfort you and bind and heal your wounds ( Psalm 30:2 .) You can allow Him to show you things that maybe you have overlooked for years. God wants to show you a better way of living your life. He wants to help you see and break patterns of relating to others that may have contributed to this devastating experience of divorce.

This may be a time of repentance for the way you have related to others in your life. Do you have a pattern of avoiding conflict in relationships? Have you allowed someone to disrespect you over time? Maybe you struggle with intimacy and communication. This part of the healing is difficult and can feel scary. You may be tempted to blame your spouse for everything wrong in the marriage. Blaming may feel more comfortable than facing the part you played in the breakdown of the marriage, but it doesn’t help you grow as a person.

But what if you have been the victim of horrible abuses and violations of trust? Don’t you have the right to put more of the responsibility for the divorce on your spouse? Isn’t your anger justified? You will have natural feelings of anger and bitterness at times. Certainly, it is right and appropriate to hold your spouse accountable for the way he or she hurt you. Scripture does not say that to be a loving person we must ignore the faults of others and allow them to continue in sin. Rather, in Romans 6:1-2 Paul said that if we love Christ and recognize the extent of His grace, we should not allow a loved one to continue in sin. Loving well means that you encourage another person’s growth towards Christlikeness by holding him or her accountable with the hope that it will bring the person to his or her senses.

While a certain amount of anger and bitterness is justified, it is not in anyone’s best interest to let your feelings grow into obsession and revenge, as this will inhibit a submissive heart for God ( Proverbs 20:22; 22:4; 1 Peter 5:5 ;James 4:6-7 ).

A submissive and loving heart for God will be nurtured through prayer and thankfulness. When you think about the betrayal in your marriage, it may be easy to fall into revengeful and hateful desires. Bitterness and depression can creep into the heart and destroy love and compassion. The best way to face these negative emotions is to immerse yourself in prayer and thanksgiving. Pray for yourself, your unmet longings, and your pain. Pray for your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Pray for God’s redemptive purpose to take place in your life. Pray for hope, that in the midst of your pain and anger, you may one day have a compassionate heart for your spouse. And be thankful. Remember the good and wonderful ways in which God has been there for you in the past. Be ready to see His blessings today. A thankful heart will bring you peace and guard your heart against hate ( Philippians 4:4-9 ).

You are beginning a long and lonely journey. Fear will surround you. Overwhelming feelings of loss, betrayal, and isolation will plague you. Some moments you will feel strong. The next moment, waves of emotion will suffocate you. The path to healing means that you accept these lonely times as a place where God wants to teach you things about yourself and Him that you haven’t yet learned. Cry out to God in your desolation. He will hear you and help you ( Psalm 34:17-18 ).

Divorce has the potential to produce bitterness, depression, and a lack of trust in people. It also has the potential to deepen your relationship with God, which brings with it great blessings ( Psalm 37:4-6,9,11,18-19 ; Matthew 5:3-10 ; Philippians 2:1-2 ).Trust that God will not leave you alone in your suffering. He will comfort you ( Matthew 5:4 ), and heal you ( Psalm 34:17-18 ). It won’t be an easy road, but you can find solace in knowing that He suffers with you in your loss. This is not what God intended for your life, but He can use suffering to pour love into your heart and produce deeper character in you ( Romans 5:1-5 ).

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How Can I Go on Living When I Feel Like I Want to Die?

When the cares of life overwhelm us, it might seem easier to wish for death than to face the struggle. If you are hurting and trying to find a way out, please read on, for there is hope for you!

God knows your pain. He knows your doubts and fears. He knows that you have difficulties and that you even question Him.

A follower of Christ named Paul (who wrote much of the Bible’s New Testament) also struggled with circumstances to the point of losing hope. In 2 Corinthians 1 , he told the church of Corinth that he had suffered greatly while in Asia. He said that he and a friend named Timothy were “under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure,so that we despaired even of life” (v.8). Paul too was in despair!

But the story does not end there. He went on to say that “this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (v.9).This emotional struggle, this hopelessness that Paul felt, caused him to rely on God even more. He saw more clearly how much he needed God through this dark hour in his life.

You may not be where Paul was when he wrote those words. You may be in the middle of a storm and you may be wondering if you are going to make it. You may even be questioning God’s presence in your life. Your story, however, like Paul’s, doesn’t have to end in despair. It is in the midst of the most desperate moments of your life that you too can call on the Lord and He will hear you.

Is it possible that instead of reaching out to the Lord, you have been using god-substitutes to avoid taking care of your real needs? Most of us do that from time to time. We find creative ways of drowning our sorrows and dulling our pain. We are often tempted to use sex, food, materialism, drugs, alcohol, shopping — anything to try and make the pain go away. When nothing seems to work, depression can set in. Depression is sometimes an internal decision to shut down and a refusal to deal with the difficult struggles of life. This kind of depression usually results from a series of failed attempts to deal with some painful circumstances or difficult relationships in one’s life. The feeling of a depressed person is often, “No matter how much I try, I am powerless to change the things that mean the most to me. I quit! Nothing works. I give up!” It is at this point that some think about ending their life. You are not alone in feeling as you do.

So how do we work through these deeply painful and frightening times? I believe it is when we admit that we are at the end and can’t make it on our own. God will comfort us in our grief, sorrow, and disappointments. He will reveal Himself to us and show us mercy ( Matthew 5:4,6 ).

Some experiences in your life may make you hesitant to reach out to the Lord for help. But, if you trust God with your pain, He can begin to show you that you have purpose and significance. You were created for a higher purpose, which is to worship your Creator and to find your hope and strength in Him.

If you continue to struggle with thoughts of suicide, seek help from a skilled counselor, your pastor, or a trusted friend. Your feelings may not change overnight, but you can begin to act in faith and take actions that will lead to a healthy perspective on life.

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