And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bullies, Thankfulness, and Other Tools in life

Bullies, Thankfulness, and Other Tools in life

It was the sixth grade. I had had enough. With all the makings for a classic Hollywood B movie the tension mounted like an over wound guitar string. Leaving the bus my nemesis awaited me. It was all over a football trading card, Mercury Morris to be exact. I don’t recall all the details, but I do remember a kid who outweighed me by 40 pounds flying through the air and knocking all my possessions to the ground. Books, trading cards, and pride were strewn about some neighbors lawn like crabgrass. The crowd disbursed and went home, show over. (I will add that a girl, a pretty girl, stole the culprit’s musical instrument and brought it to me to use as leverage, but I did not take advantage of the opportunity) For the next several years this opponent of mine would haunt me like acne. I daily cried out to God for protection, to move us to another town , or do anything possible to relieve me of this torment. But God kept me there and provided. This evil villain would not be the last bully I would face, but certainly he is the one who has caused the most grief. And for what knowledge I have, he is still the same type of person.

Growing up in life everyone faces some sort of bully. Even today you may have one in the workplace or a neighbor who uses intimidation to get their way. It’s a fact of life. No matter how many laws are passed or dodge ball classes cancelled, there will be bullies.

My life has had its share of bullies. Now I won’t name names here, for fear of being either seen as vindictive or gaining a lawsuit. (Attorney’s can be a form of legalized bullying, ha ha ) But I am sure you can follow along. And its true that in various forms of sarcasm I have engaged in tactics that have rebutted others, all of which I repent.

But a few years ago I faced bullies within the church. Intimidating people, gossips, backbiters, slanderers, the likes of which will not enter the gates of Heaven. It wasn’t a one incident deal. It seemed to take many forms. If you read my article on “Ten Ways You Know You Have A Bad Church” you will get a glimpse of what I am talking about. There even was a three week period wherein every devotional time I had seemed to revolve around God’s faithfulness in times of trouble. I was perplexed as to the extensiveness of what He was revealing. That is until a special called meeting was held one Wednesday night. You can guess what happened.

But in all that trouble, I was reminded by God of David being pursued by Saul. God revealed to me that He had carried me through bullies of all types. He had provided for every financial need in seminary. When I was lonely He was there to comfort. Not a single problem had ever surfaced that God did not provide for to His glory. It was then He opened my eyes to see that had it not been for the bullies I would have quit the ministry. But that daily endurance of oppression had made me trust in Him as my only hope.

James is true when he says to count it all joy knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance and a perfect result. Paul is dead on in Romans 8 when he reveals God’s working out difficulties to conform us to the image of Christ and that nothing will separate us from His love.

I am thankful now for the hardships through bullies I have faced. It has brought in me a desire to remain faithful, letting God be God and giving Him the glory.

1 comment:

Catherine Mattice said...

Bullies can really bring you down, and really get to you if you let them.

But, that which does not kill us only makes us stronger, right? Use communication skills to fight off the bully without actually fighting him. Look him the eyes, stand with your head held high and your shoulders back, don't let him smell fear. This, in and of itself, is enough to scare him or her off.