“An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.”(Proverbs 18:19)
Walled cities. Barred gates. In ancient times, they provided protection. Yet while walls and bars kept invaders out, they did something else too. They kept people inside. When an army laid siege to a city, famine and sickness flourished. People turned on one another. Death came from the inside.
Read the Proverbs verse above. Offenses and disputes can lead us to put up walls and to bar the gates of our hearts. Verbal arrows and battering rams wound and the pain is real. The temptation is to retreat behind our walls and to avoid hurt altogether.
But it’s a trap. Behind the walls, our spirit starves.
So what are we to do? Is there no protection from hurt? Mean comments on the playground. Trash talking on the field. Put-downs from a brother or sister when Mom’s not looking. Gossip at the soccer field or by the water cooler. Isaiah 41: 10 says:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God filters all things, even the wrong choices of others. If He allowed it, you can bet He will use it. God wastes nothing, not tears, and certainly not pain. Give it to Him and keep your heart open. Don’t be guilty of an inside job.
Can you remember when someone hurt you? How did you feel?
Did you want to fight back or retreat?
If you tend to retreat, what do you do?
What’s the downside to a long-term retreat? (Short ones may be wise and necessary at times.)
What helps you continue to love when others are hurtful?