By Darlene Franklin
I often feel like I live on a pendulum between pride and neglect, with patience as the fulcrum.
My natural tendencies, formed by years of childhood abuse, make me overly sensitive. I’m right to be concerned when my physical needs go untended for hours. But sometimes I get upset over little things.
I feel guilty when I think about Jesus. He wasn’t neglected; He was abused, painfully, to the point of death (Isaiah 53:7)
But at times Jesus did “complain.” He cursed a fig tree (Matthew 21:19). He talked about his ill treatment in his home town and by religious leaders (Matthew 13:57.)
Those became occasion to teach spiritual truths. My complaints are centered on my needs.
The Bible gives us many other example of patience under persecution, such as Joseph and David. My question was, is it ever okay to say “enough!”
I looked for affirmitive examples.
I had hopes for Hagar, who ran away from the great patriarch Abraham. His wife Sarah mistreated her handmaid, perhaps even to the point of physical abuse (Genesis 16:6.)
Get this. God told her to go back. (Genesis 16:9) The Bible is silent on Abraham’s treatment of Hagar until after the birth of Sarah’s son Isaac, fourteen years later. That time, Abraham and Sarah sent Hagar and her son away. (Genesis 21)
Both times, God appeared to Hagar personally and promised to take care of them. He gave them the courage to continue.
God didn’t get Hagar out of her situation; He helped her endure. The question remained, is there never a way out?
And what about the times God lets the bad stuff happen, like to Job? When his life fell apart, his friends insisted sin must be the cause. Yes, God allowed Satan to test Job with loss of family, things, and health, but in the end He vindicated Job before his friends. What if it happened to me? I didn’t know I could stand it.
The story didn’t end there. God had an entirely different plan for Esther. Her husband the king had issued an edict that all Jews be killed—not realizing his new queen’s heritage.
Esther recognized her unique position to act on behalf of her people—and it terrified her. Because if she approached the king without his permission, she would face an even more immediate death than the date set for slaughter. After she fasted and prayed, he received her. And he did what he could: he gave permission for Jews across his empire to fight back.
In the New Testament, I read a troubling account of the Gentile mother who approached Jesus for healing for her daughter.. Unlike other occasions, Jesus turned her away. He said He had come first to the Jews, comparing them to children and her to a dog.
That would have made me angry. But not her. Instead she said, “Even dogs get to eat scraps that children drop from the table.”
Jesus rewarded her faith and healed her daughter. Sometimes standing up for my rights is a way of demonstrating my faith.
Then there’s the enigmatic apostle Paul. He insisted on returning to Jerusalem even though he would be imprisoned. During his trial, he exercised his rights as a Roman citizen by appealing to Caesar. Earlier in his career, when he was falsely accused, he would trot out his citizenship papers and say “tut-tut, you can’t treat me this way.”
I might wish the answer was always, no, I don’t have to put up with neglect. But God may call me to endure for a time. Or I might need to stand up for myself and fight the ensuing battle.
Perhaps the question isn’t how long I’m asked to be patient or how much I’m asked to accept without complaint. The question is more, what is God doing in the situation and what does He want? My best course of action is to bring my complaints first to him, and then move as He directs.
I’m a pawn in the spiritual battle. No, not a pawn. A favored piece, with tests of patience as my strategy.
I am a Yoyo
I am a yoyo
Vacillating back and forth
Can the yoyo come to rest?
To camouflage my truest self
In order to survive
But I won’t be