gospel, Pain, rejection, salvation

The Wounds of Rejection

1 Sam 16:10: Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.”

This week, I listened to Dr Dharius Daniels the lead pastor of Change Church on a topic he titled: “Infection from Rejection.”

Dr. Dharius preached from the book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 16 which narrates the story of David’s call by God from a dejected shepherd boy to a King. The Lord had rejected Saul as the leader of His people and has selected a son in the house of Jessy and in 1 Sam 16: 1, he commands Samuel:  Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”

It is hard to imagine what each of Jessy’s seven children went through. Eliab the firstborn is said to be a man so well put together that when Samuel saw him, he thought that he was the one God had chosen, only for the Lord to reprimand him.  “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Eliad faced a first hand rejection for a position he had never even asked for. The other five brothers must have received the news that Prophet Samuel had come to anoint a King and each one of them must have groomed themselves to look their best before being summoned by Jessy.

But alas, when Samuel had seen all the six of them, the Lord revealed to him that there must have been one more. When Samuel saw Shammah, the sixth son he said:  “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 

And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”  Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”   1 Sam 16:9-11

It is possible that even Jessy had underrated David because he was the youngest.  It must have been even harder for David to believe what was going on. He had lived as an outcast in the family as he cites in Ps. 69: 8: “I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children.”

Dr. Dharius explains that rejection is a symptom of past hurts and pains and that it manifests in many ways and mostly in personality types. It is a tool the enemy uses to wound the soul causing deep internal bleeding finally killing the person’s faith and identity. Dr Dharious says “A cut may not kill you, but the infection will.”

 From the wounds of rejection, some people become cold-hearted refusing to love and to accept love, others self-centered, selfish and angry. The opposite is having people-pleasing traits and low self-esteem which makes people overextend themselves to please others to gain their acceptance and love.

Dr Dharius underlines that Christians ought not to be surprised when rejected for even Jesus, the son of God, the most perfect, kind, giving, loving even unto death was rejected. However, they must seek the Lord for healing for Christ was rejected on their behalf.

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely He has borne our griefs. And carried our sorrows. (Is 53:3-4).

David came in as a last result even to his own father . Believers need to trust the Lord in all things because He does not make a  mistake.  It does not matter if you are the last to walk through the door. When the oil of anointing is upon you, the Lord will pull you from the bushes to be the position he has for you.  When David appeared from his shepherd duties, the bible says he was glowing and his eyes were bright.  They all stood to the accepted of God…for no one sits when a Kind walks in!

Featured resource: An Infection From Rejection: by Dharius Daniels

Standard
Abusive relationship, Marriage, narcissism

Narcissism: is there help for victims?

Photo: Unsplash/ Thought Catalog

It was a calm Friday evening in Nairobi. I had met with my best friends, all middle-aged ladies in a downtown hotel for dinner.

We had a history together, one of long-suffering, and steadfastness in the Lord. We also shared a common story of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

We had not seen each other for a while and therefore had much to discuss. We talked about good and bad times in our middle-age lives; jobs, bringing up teenagers, relationships, aging parents other niceties and non issues.

These are the ladies that I could call any time whenever I needed to share a laugh over a cup of coffee. They are the ones who stood with me during my downtimes and with whom I had cried and laughed many times.

Like all human beings, each one was struggling with something. Jane (not her real name) was going through a messy divorce. She narrated how for a long time she felt like she was going crazy.

She said any time they had a disagreement with her husband, he would accuse her of being mean and selfish. He would rationalise her problems and completely ignore her pain and suffering. Most arguments or disagreements left her devalued, demeaned and doubting herself worthy and sanity. Jane said she ended up feeling confused and guilty and crazy. Many days she felt sick, had low energy and suffered insomnia. Her concern was that her husband was a Christian, treated other people kindly and was likable to many other people. As a result, when Jane complained to friends or relatives she looked like she was the bad one.

There was tangible silence around the table. We all felt sorry for Jane and we mumbled words of comfort.

Amid the conversation, Mercy, a trained social-psychologist commented, “Jane, your hubby sounds like a narcissist (narc).”

We changed the topic, mostly because we did not know what to say to comfort Jane but more so because we did not want her to feel like the meeting was about her struggles.

“What is a is a narcissist?” I asked Mercy who while staring straight to my eyes said… “I don’t want to spoil our evening, go find out.”

I left the dinner that evening with a heavy burden. My friend Jane was in trouble and she did not look well. Why would she go through so much pain and none of us could give any useful advice? Is it possible then that what Mercy said was true –that our friend was married to this being with this uncommon personality disorder – a narcissist?

I began to research “narcissism” and what Christian counselors had to say about it. What was surprising was that narcissism seemed to be so rampant there were enough teachings both from Christian and non-Christian counselors about the topic.

All definitions narrowed the term narcissism as a personality disorder characterized by selfishness, a sense of entitlement, grandiosity, lack of empathy, and a high need for admiration.

Further research showed that when in relationships, these personalities create a situation in which he or she becomes impossible to please, leaving the spouse in a victim status. The victim will always feel inadequate, insecure and guilty and in an effort to please the narcissist, keeps trying and becomes what psychology defines as a co-dependent. If the victim does not get help, the remain distressed and they may become clinically depressed and acquire emotional imbalances which eventually lead to physical illnesses and diseases.

As long as the narcissist partner is happy, there may be some temporal peace but once a problem arises, the narc may shut down, demean and isolate the victim until she or he has to beg. Things may work for a while then, when the victim thinks all is settled and is ready to have a score of peace, the narc shifts the goal. This lifestyle becomes a vicious pattern leaving the victim to live a life that is caged to pain and helplessness. They may eventually suffer from a condition psychologists refer to as “trauma-bonding” in which a traumatic life becomes the norm.

From my research, I have curated some resources which I hope would be useful to anyone in a relationship with a narcissist. These resources are an eye opener to victims and they offer relevant counsel on how one can face the challenges, buid core strength, faith and an awareness of what one can do in such a situation.

Ross Rosenburg is a Christian Counsellor. In his book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us, he explains why despite their dreams for true love, find themselves hopelessly and painfully in love with partners who hurt them. 

Featured teachings:

Knowing Narcissism. Crucial Information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Ross Rosenburg
Patrick Doyle on Focus Today
Clinical Psychologist Abdul Saad addresses the recovery processes of a narcissist’s victim.
Learn more about Narcissism
An authoritative resource on understanding narcissistic abuse

Standard
Pain, Perseverance, suffering

Suffering and Pain: This Thing is of Me (1 Kings 12:24).

I have been listening to many teachers of the gospel and one of them who has sound teaching on trials and suffering is Dr. David Jeremiah.

Dr. Jeremiah was diagnosed with stage four of lymphoma cancer over twenty years ago.  He went through treatment and the Lord used doctors and medicine and he recovered fully. 

As a result of his experience, Dr. Jeremiah wrote a book: When Your World Falls Apart and shared a series of teachings on what he learned from his experience.  He provides a clear analogy that helps us understand suffering, which he refers to as “ bends on our road” that God uses to prune and edify us. 

He reiterates that suffering is not always from the devil, but the Lord allows it for his good purposes. 

When I reflect on my own trials, I can say that as much as they have been painful and sometimes very disheartening, I am comforted to know that God understands pain.  He allowed  His own son to suffer for my sake.  He could have chosen any other means to save mankind or simply destroyed it after Adam’s disobedience, but He did not. 

Instead, God used the ultimate of all pains: the death of His begotten son, Jesus Christ, even death unto the cross. 

Like all human beings living in this fallen word, I have know pain and loss.  My little baby girl died just three days after birth.  I was in a hospital that did not have a backup generator and when the electrical power went off, several premature babies including my little beautiful baby died that night.  The image of her fully formed tiny body,  laying in a cold incubator remains fresh in my memory. 

I have also lost two of my closest family members, my dad and my elder brother.  Death is for sure the ultimate of all despair and loss. 

Depite the pain and loss, I cannot comprehend the love and comfort I have recieved from my Father in heaven. He who is the author of my life allowed His own son to die on the cross for me.  I don’t get it all but one thing I know,  a good God also allows and understands suffering and pain and through Christ, we have life eternal.

On 2nd August 1896, the famous British gospel teacher Charles Spurgeon preached from the book of  1 Kings 12:24: “Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me.” https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/spurgeon_charles/sermons/2476.cfm)

I would like to share the piece, below that many preachers cite when preaching about suffering and quoting 1 Kings: 12:24 “This Thing is of Me.”

I can’t tell who the original writer was but I credit this citation from Laura A. Barter Snow’s book: The disappointments of life.

“THIS THING IS FROM ME” (1 Kings 12:24)

The disappointments of life are in reality only the decrees of love: I have a message for thee today, My child. I will whisper it softly in thine ear, in order that the storm clouds which appear may be gilt with glory, and that the thorns on which thou mayest have to walk be blunted. The message is but short—a tiny sentence—but allow it to sink into the depths of thine heart, and be to thee as a cushion on which to rest thy weary head: “This thing is from Me.”

Hast thou never thought that all which concerns thee, concerns Me also? He that toucheth thee toucheth the apple of Mine eye (Zech. 2:8). Thou hast been precious in Mine eyes, that is why I take a special interest in thine upbringing. When temptation assails thee, and the “enemy comes in like a flood” I would wish thee to know that “This thing is from Me.” I am the God of circumstances. Thou hast not been placed where thou art by chance, but because it is the place I have chosen for thee. Didst thou not ask to become humble? Behold, I have placed thee in the very place where this lesson is to be learned. It is by thy surroundings and thy companions that the workings of My will is to come about.

Hast thou money difficulties? It is hard to keep within thine income? “This thing is from Me.” For I am He that possesseth all things. I wish thee to draw everything from Me, and that thou depend entirely upon Me. My riches are illimitable (Phil. 4:19). Put My promise to the proof, so that it may not be said of thee, “Yet in this thing, ye did not believe the Lord thy God.”

Art thou passing through a night of affliction? “This thing is from Me.” I am the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). I have left thee without human support that in turning to Me thou mightest obtain eternal consolation (2 Thess. 2:16, 17).

Has some friend disappointed thee? One to whom thou hadst opened thine heart? “This thing is from Me.” I have allowed this disappointment that thou mightest learn that the best Friend is Jesus. He preserves us from falling, fights for us in our combats; yea, the best Friend is Jesus. I long to be thy confidant.

Has someone said false things of thee? Leave that, and come closer to Me, under My wings, away from the place of wordy dispute, for I will bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday (Psa. 37:6).

Have thy plans been all upset? Art thou crushed and weary? “This thing is from Me.” Hast thou made plans and then coming, asked Me to bless them? I wish to make thy plans for thee. I will take the responsibility, for it is too heavy for thee; thou couldst not perform it alone (Ex. 18:18). Thou art but an instrument and not an agent.

Hast thou desired fervently to do some great work for Me? Instead of that thou has been laid on one side, on a bed of sickness and suffering. “This thing is from Me.” I was unable to attract thine attention whilst thou wast so active. I wish to teach thee some of My deep lessons. It is only those who have learned to wait patiently who can serve Me. My greatest workers are sometimes those who are laid aside from active service in order that they may learn to wield the weapon of prayer.

Art thou suddenly called to occupy a difficult position full of responsibilities? Go forward, counting on Me. I am giving thee the position full of difficulties for the reason that Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all thy works, and in all the business of thy hands (Deut. 15:18). This day I place in thy hand a pot of holy oil. Draw from it freely, My child, that all the circumstances arising along the pathway, each word that gives thee pain, each interruption trying to thy patience, each manifestation of thy feebleness, may be anointed with this oil.

Remember that interruptions are divine instructions. The sting will go in the measure in which thou seest Me in all things. Therefore set your heart unto all the works that I testify among you this day. For it is your life (Deut. 32:46-47).

Selected Resources:

Chris Rice

Standard
gospel, salvation

Saving Grace: My testimony of salvation.

Elizabeth Cirani

There is no way I could have been cleansed. No one could have paid my debt of sin. As I ran my hell-bound race, indifferent to the cost, you looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross… now all I know is grace. (All I have is Christ by Jordan Kauflin ).

My testimony is not an attempt to condemn any religion. My story is to share what I believe and why.  Prior to receiving Christ as a personal savior, I was a religious person.   I had been taught that my doctrine was the only true one.  I thought everyone was going to hell except those of my church.   Then, I failed the religion, myself and more importantly God.

I was 20 years old when I conceived my firstborn child Jessy out of wedlock. As a result, I automatically became an outcast in the church I had grown in and served.   I could not join in Holy Communion, could not sing in the choir or have my child baptized.

According to the doctrine and the teachings I had received, if Christ was to return then, my son and I would go straight to hell.  This was scary! I felt hopeless and lost.  I needed something, anything that could cleanse me of my sin and get me back to the religion that I had known all my life.

So I would attend mass, sit in the pews follow through the recitations, then go back home, feeling hopeless and condemned.  Eventually, I stopped attending church altogether.

I was working as a registry clerk with a broadcasting station when I  got a government scholarship to join college. While there, I met young ladies my age.  They seemed happy and content. During their lunch-hour break, they would either be going to a prayer meeting, to a bible study or fellowship.

Among these young ladies, there was one who was much older than the others. Her name was Peninah and we had something in common. She had gone through the same challenge of falling pregnant before holy matrimony.  However, her case was different.  Her church accepted her back,  she later got married in church and after that she co ntinued with serving in church as a born-again Christian.  When I shared my story therefore, she resonated with what I was going through. She committed to inviting me to the Christian fellowship meetings.  Sometimes I would go, sometimes I would not.  She remained patient and kept inviting me and did not judge or reject me.

It was one Wednesday afternoon.  Peninah and the other girls had left for a lunch-hour fellowship.  I pulled out a novel from my bag and began to read.  A few minuted later, my deskmate, a man who did not care about God walked in to the class.  Muiru was a fun easy going person and in one of his loud jokes said: “Elizabeth, you must be one crazy girl.  How dare you sit here when all your friends have gone to church? Get out and go join them.”  This may sound weird but I left and I heard him chuckle behind me.  I think I just left because he simply annoyed me but later, I understood that the Lord was using him to push me out of the class and the novel reading to Gods calling of salvation.

I joined the fellowship half an hour late, walked through the back door and sat at the back of the room.  The speaker stood in front of a full packed classroom. Everyone was attentive.  In front of me were young men and women, who sat attentively listening to the word of God.  They then arose and raised their hands and voices in worship and prayer.

I do not remember anything about the message of the day but what I remember is that at that moment, I knew I was different from the rest of these young  people.  They looked happy and seemed to have so much hope and confidence. I was convicted of my sin and I knew needed forgiveness.

After the closing prayer, all the students left quicky to be on time for the afternoon lessons.  The speaker remained behind to pack his items.  I  dashed to the front to catch him before leaving.  He quickly  introduced himself as John Wesley Nguo and asked me what I wanted to which I responded: “I want to get saved.”

John dashed out and called a few of the students that had not left.  I could hear his voice, almost panting with excitement: “Hey ! some of you come back! we have a new soul!”

I was led to say a prayer of repentance.  Many years later, I can say this was not my effort, the Lord was pursuing me while I ran my hell-bound race as the bible clearly states:  “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44-45).

That Wednesday afternoon,  Christ embraced and healed me of sin, rejection and shame.  He taught me that there is nothing I could do to earn His love except to accept His saving grace. He gave me peace a new name, the forgiven, the accepted of Christ.  No one could have paid my debt of sin.  Not religion, not good works, but  Jesus with His Precious Blood.

The bible in the book of Isaiah 1:18 says: “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Right there, a burden rolled and my sins were forgiven –  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).

My soul became alive that day.  I had a friend and a father His name is Jesus. He has never left me, He has never forsaken me. He has remained closer to me than a brother.

I can only share what I know and who He is. He is real. He is true. He is alive.  “He made [me] alive, who was dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1).

Song: Jesus paid it all/Fernando Ortega

NIV Bible
Standard
Abusive relationship, Marriage, Pain, suffering

What I do in an abusive marriage?

Featured teaching: The Emotionally destructive marriage: Leslie Vernick

I grew up in a small village in Kenya in a family of six, three girls and three boys. I was blessed to have hard working and caring parents, yet, I knew something was not working between them.

As a small girl, my basic understanding of marriage was that it was a commitment between dad and mum. What I did not understand however is why my father who, when drunk would physically beat up mama and chase her out of the house in the cold.

With a black eye, an injury on her face or elsewhere, Mama would come back into the house in the morning to prepare breakfast for Papa and her six children, yet when Papa woke up, he behaved like all was well.

It is hard to unpack in a few words what pain this caused us all.
There are days when mama could not take it anymore, and she would pack her few clothes and escape to her parents.

When I was a grown woman and with my own family, I asked her why she kept coming back to the abuse to which she responded: “I kept hoping that one day your dad would stop drinking and treat me well.  Again, as a Christian, I believed that the Bible commanded me not to leave ’till death do us part’.”

Mama was the firstborn in a family of thirteen children. Her parents were peasant farmers and had enough challenges in raising their dozen children.   Whenever mama ran back to her home, she felt guilty that she was adding a burden to the already burdened parents

As a result, I saw mama go through so much pain.  She worked extra hard.  To ensure we had enough to eat, she was hired to work in other peoples farms.  I witnessed her lose weight due to lack of an appetite, she would easily get agitated,  she developed asthma and became very weak and skinny.  I now know that she suffered clinical depression.

While I felt sorry for Mama, I also cared for Papa. When not drunk, he was kind and loving. Despite his drinking, he paid school fees and provided the basics. This made him look better than many men in the village.  When sober, he was calm and quiet.  Many times, he looked remorseful after spending his money on the bottle or having gotten mugged when walking home at night.  I felt sorry for him.   There are times after a drunken fight, he would apologize to us, would promise that he would stop drinking for a few weeks, then relapse after a few weeks.

By God’s grace, we all grew up, got jobs and moved from home to the city.  We looked forward to coming back for a  holiday. When we did, it would sometimes be fun and sometimes bitter.  I realized mama and papa were not friends. With the children gone, they simply co-existed and this was painful to watch.

I have since learned that abuse takes many forms.  For Mama, it was physical, psychological and emotional. I have also learnt that dad was sick. He was an alcoholic who for lack of knowledge and resources never received any treatment.

Today, people are more enlightened about these conditions that so negatively affected my parents relationship.   Abusibe spouses are more afraid of physically abusing their spouses for fear of going to jail.   As a result, they revert to emotional abuse.   I knew mama was hurt because I saw her scars.  What I did not see were her emotional wounds.

This concern led me to look up resources on emotionally destructive marriages and below, I share a few references from Christian councilors. Through them, I hope to repackage what abuse looks like in a marriage and what a Christian can do to be safe and live a life that glorifies God.


Featured Resources

Video credit/ Leaslie Vernick

Featured: How to have more emotional safety in relationships and what to do if you are in a relationship that is unsafe. (credit: Veritas counselling/Dove Tv)

BOOKS

Standard