Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Mt 18:21-22)
Have you seriously tried that?
Which time did that insult spat from careless lips sit right with you? Number forty? Number two-hundred and twenty nine?
Speaking from my own experience, it gets harder and more painful each time, not easier, until hearing the same person make the same negative remark becomes too much, and I start to wonder at what point is God going to step in and make them stop?
Am I supposed to sit there and take this again and again, my heart being ripped further and further to shreds each time? Pounding and pounding, each blow making that place inside a little more tender than it was. And me more afraid it won't stop. That it'll happen again. Unpredictable.
Me always on my toes, head turned, eye squinched, waiting for those words to hit me because I know there's more out there.
Never able to relax. Never able to breathe.
Seventy times seven is too long, Lord! I can't do it!
And don't you judge me, you sitting there in your peaceful room, you spouting out how, "the Lord won't give me more than I can bear." As if that's comforting.
Gee, thanks, I feel better.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)
You know who helps me the most in moments like that? The person who said they understood, that all the emotion and discouragement I have is exactly how it really is, and I don't have to deny I feel that way.
That I can cry, and they won't feel any worse about me. That they've been in my shoes, reacted exactly how I did, and somehow managed to get up and walk again.That person lifted my burden way more than the clear-skinned saint.
They helped me know I'm not alone. Know that when I hit rock bottom someone will take my hand, feel my pain and pray.
Thinking on this further, what if I can be that person? What if when you are hurting, I can sit with you in that puddle of despair, instead of peddling advice from my easy chair? What if I'm not afraid to get a little dirt on me in the process?
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Heb 4:15)
Jesus wasn't. He touched lepers, ate dinner with outcasts, protected a woman taken in adultery, let another clean his feet with her hair. He spoke with Samaritans, children, demoniacs.
He slogged through the trenches, getting more and more muck on his shoes, unafraid of the consequences of feeling our hurt.
Shouldn't I follow that example? Shouldn't you?
Maybe you're the person who keeps tossing out the insult. Maybe you're the one who places someone into the pit of depression. If so, wake up and shut up.
Jesus never did that either.
His was the ultimate life of love concluded with the ultimate act of love for the person who most needed love, and that's how we should be.
Not holier than thou, but exactly like thou.
And when all is said and done, exactly like Him. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel better.
Suzanne D. Williams