Episode 1. When Nobody Understands
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Life can be tough when nobody understands us – when sometimes our good intentions or who we are, are misunderstood. It’s tough – so how do we live through that? Last week on the program we had …
Life can be tough when nobody understands us – when sometimes our good intentions or who we are, are misunderstood. It’s tough – so how do we live through that?
Last week on the program we had a look at what it means for us to live the life that God always intended. I’m passionate about that, God has a plan for your life, for my life and it’s a good plan, a plan of getting up close to Him, a plan of being blessed and being a blessing to others.
But sometimes life can be awful, life can be really harsh and tough and I’m always conscious when I’m talking about God’s blessing that someone’s sitting there thinking to themselves, “Well I don’t know whose life you’re talking about buddy,” or “Whose God are you talking about but it’s certainly not mine.”
So this week on the program we’re going to have a look at what it means to live the life that God always intended for us even when life’s tough, even in the reality of life. We all go through those tough times sometimes, I do and the real question is when the chips are down is God still going to show up?
When was the last time that you went through a difficult time in life? Conflict at home, in the family, or sickness or fear or the death of a loved one or loneliness? The list goes on doesn’t it? There’s not one of us who can’t point to something difficult or hurtful in life, even when it looks like on the surface we’re doing ok.
That’s the thing isn’t it? When we’re doing it tough people look at us on the outside, and you and I are pretty good at pretending that everything’s ok and then we live out that lie, we live out that surface existence and the feeling wells up inside, no-one really understands what’s going on in my life, nobody knows how I feel, I feel so not understood.
I recently went through a tough time with the hours that I had to work, I had several really big things going on at the same time and there was about a four month period when I literally only had three days off. And when you’re working seven days a week, twelve to fourteen hours a day, now remember I’m no spring chicken, it’s really tough. I love what I do but it was a grind, it was very tiring mentally and emotionally, it was exhausting stuff.
Now that season is over but back then I remember going to Church and people would ask me, “How you doing Berni?” And sometimes I’d smile and say, “I’m fine.” and other times I’d say, “Well you know, I’m working really long hours and as much as I enjoy what I’m doing with God, it’s really tough, I’m finding it hard, it’s tough on my wife Jacqui and on our marriage.” And more often than not no-one really understood. And when we’re at that point, when something is dominating our lives and affecting our lives and it hurts and it’s difficult, it’s tough when no-one understands us isn’t it?
Because we really would like someone to understand and we get to the point and we say, “Oh, ok God, tell me, how am I supposed to live the life that you always intended for me, a good life, a blessed life when I’m doing it tough and no-one really understands or worse still, they misunderstand us, they misunderstand our good intentions, they misunderstand who we are?”
That’s a good question because when we’re doing it tough we desperately, desperately need someone to understand us, maybe not to do anything except listen and go, “Hmmm, I understand.” But that empathy, knowing that there’s someone else who just empathises with us, who is just prepared to sit and to listen and to cry with us through the difficult times is so important isn’t it?
I remember when I was going through really tough times in my life a decade ago, I was so blessed by a couple, a husband and a wife, who were prepared just to be with me and to weep with me when I wept and to laugh with me when I laughed.
Can I tell you? These days that is very, very rare indeed, to experience that true emotional empathy and support. It’s sad but true. People who are prepared to take the time and travel through the difficult times with us and be there and just cry with us when we need someone to do that for us. Everybody else is so busy, they haven’t got time. Everybody else is so busy taking; they haven’t got any time to do any giving. You can relate to that.
So often I go to Church and I’m guilty of this too, you say, ‘How you going?’ and people say, ‘I’m really busy, I’m really, really busy.’ Well that means that we’re too busy to understand people who are hurting and for Jesus the most important thing of all is that we walk in love, that we walk sacrificially.
We’ll talk about that next week on the program. When we’re too busy to do that, we’re too busy to do the thing that Jesus wants us most to do and when everybody’s busy taking and no-one’s got time for us and we’re hurting, we just want to scream, ‘God, what are you doing to me?’
Let me truly tell you, there’s only one person who always, always shows up and makes a difference, there’s only one person with true empathy, true understanding, true emotional support that can make a difference 24/7 and that person is God. Sometimes people think that prayer is like a ritual, you have to know the formula, there has to be a key that unlocks the code to God’s treasure chest.
But have a listen to what Jesus said:
Don’t be like all those other people who heap up empty phrases or who think that God will hear them because of all the great words they use, your Dad in Heaven already knows what you want even before you open your mouth to ask. Whenever you pray, just go quietly into a room on your own, shut the door, pray in secret and your Dad who sees in secret will reward you.
Don’t you love that? God already knows, He knows the hurt, He knows the pain, He knows what it feels like to be misunderstood before we even open our mouths and the promise of Jesus is, “Dad’s in that place.” When we go into that quiet room and close the door and pray and spend time with God in secret, our Dad in heaven will answer us, will respond, will be there because that’s who He is, that’s what He does, He’s God. God knows everything and He’s the God of pure love and pure grace who is always willing to listen, who knows our hearts but He also knows what we’re going through.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He was a boy, He was a man, He grew up, He lived his life for you and me, He was misunderstood. He healed people on the Sabbath and they accused Him of being ungodly, He hung around with outcasts so they accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard. He promised a new kingdom, the kingdom of God, so they tried to conscript Him to overthrow the Romans. He stirred up the religious hypocrites so they crucified Him.
God is a God who knows what it’s like to be misunderstood and in that secret, quiet place, experiencing something that you can’t find anywhere else, that’s where we’ll find the understanding of a misunderstood God, the very same one that was prepared to go to the cross for you and for me.
In that quiet, secret place when we experience that, it changes us deep inside, it’s an experience like no other, God shines the light of His love and His understanding and His acceptance and His grace and it’s part of His plan, there’s nothing else quite like it. It’s one of the most wonderful parts of living the life that God always intended.