Beth Moore notes for the week...
Absalom's advice to Tamar was to keep the secret and pretend nothing happened. Unfortunately he took his own advice. He never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad. But his hatred for him would finally cause him to lose control. You see, overwhelming feelings cannot be stuffed. They invariably turn inward, take the person prisoner then often force a break out with tragic consequences.
Can you remember a time in your life when you had to remain silent on an overwhelming issue? ... If your answer is yes, what emotions did your silence evoke in you? (pp. 156-157)
This seems to be a pattern in my life... Don't talk. At first, this often leads to emotional burying. In time, though, the emotions well up: anxiety, sadness, anger... Generally they are extremely out of control.
Absalom was wrong to tell Tamar to be quiet and not take it to heart. The shame was crushing her to pieces. He minimized the significance of the terrible crime against her. She was invited to live with him, but she was not invited to be honest with him. She was left desolate-like the living dead. (p. 157)
This is a powerful passage for me. I see this happen often in society. We "care for" wounded people but don't invite their honesty and true healing from the crimes of disgrace committed against them. I have been criticized at times because of my willingness to listen to people's deep anguish--"You're not their counselor." No, I'm not; and there are times when I have to make those referrals out to counselors. But what happens in between those counseling appointments? I've been in some form of counseling for the greater part of 20 years. I'll be the first to tell you that the crisis always comes on the night after the appointment--and I often cry it out alone under my covers. I am thankful for the friends I have who aren't afraid to listen to my deep cries and be agents of healing!
Satan uses sin and failure so effectively against us that even after sincere repentance we often remain completely disabled. He whispers all sorts of questions in our ears like, "How dare you expect obedience from your children after what you've done? How dare you walk into church again? You hypocrite!" (p. 157)
This is exactly what has happened to me. It is how sin continues to keep me far from God. There is a song that talks about this: "You never use my failures to keep me far from You." This is a battle that I fight often--sometimes daily. "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners," has become a verse that I cling to. There is nothing wrong in me associating with Jesus!
"Be ye angry and sin not" (Eph. 4:26, KJV) does not mean "be angry and do nothing." God created anger. It energizes us to respond when something is wrong. David needed to channel his anger and respond to the crime committed in his household. No weaker house exists than one that lacks appropriate authority. Lack of authority is a breeding ground for untold recklessness and sin. Just ask Tamar. (p. 158)
This is a powerful statement. One of my areas of personal annoyance is with people who will not exercise healthy anger. American society has become characterized by such false restraint! Anger is considered damaging in any form. If a parent becomes angry and disciplines a child, the child will be scarred for life! But what a testimony of love when a parent can be angry and discipline a child appropriately in a way that the child can recall and that child can respond and experience the parent's absolute love following that period of discipline! Anger doesn't mean "I have ceased to love you."
Some things in life are do-overs. God sometimes gives us a second chance to do something right. Some chances never come back around. The chance for David and Absalom to be completely reunited in their hearts would not come again. By the time David finally received Absalom, his son's heart was cold. (p. 162)
This struck me... I've been granted a number of do-overs... But I'm also acutely aware that I must never take for granted that I will have opportunities to do things over. These do-overs make me very aware of the time I could be spending on new growth.
Have you ever had a chance to be reconciled with someone but resisted?... If so, what were some of the reasons you resisted? Did the lack of reconciliation cost you in any way? (p. 162)
Sometimes when one person's offense creates strain in a relationship, there are ripples into other relationships that are shared between the two people. I can see how this has played out in my life in certain relationships, and it has taught me some extremely painful lessons about guarding against unforgiveness and unresolved distance in relationships.
God is never in the wrong when He and one of His children are separated; yet He devises ways so that the banished person may not remain estranged from Him. Never underestimate the significance of timing when it comes to mending. You may not get another chance. (p. 162)
I wrote this reference from 2 Samuel 14:14 in my journal on July 11, 2004. I was in church at the time and was feeling a renewal of the call to music ministry. The verse jolted me into some kind of new reality. I had been spending time trying to "repent" and be restored in relationship with God, and through the verse God revealed to me that restoration wasn't about my action but about His will.
The meeting between David and Absalom was not a happy reconciliation... I am grieved reading this... I know so many people whose hearts are hardened toward family members where relationships have been wounded. They don't want to come together for the sake of real healing. Even if the offending family member truly repented, the people would not be able to accept the change. It's hard for me to think about this. I've been tempted at times to cut off contact with people because of my anger; but I have never been able to maintain such a hardened attitude. Thank You, Father, for keeping my heart soft!
Have you ever resisted forgiving someone who hurt you or disappointed you because the person never took responsibility for his/her actions and asked forgiveness? ... Can you see any ways in which your unwillingness to forgive hurt you more than the person who injured you? ...
When we harbor bitterness and refuse to forgive, we become our own persecutors. While we blame the other person, we really continue to injure ourselves. What percentage of Absalom's eleven years of bitterness-and ruined life-was David's responsibility? _____ What percentage of responsibility would you assign to Absalom?
Those who hurt us often have no idea how deeply we will suffer. (p. 165)
Very thought-provoking... Unforgiveness is an ongoing choice, my sin against myself and the other person--and ultimately my sin against the Lord. What is interesting to me is the fact that while harboring that unforgiveness, I will talk about it being the other person's responsibility to do things that indicate that he/she has made peace with me, repented, etc. But in my unforgiveness, I am often setting up a climate of failure for any attempts that person might make, however feeble they might be. I as the offended person am in a powerful position to cover that person's shame. There have been moments in my life when people have done very small things to indicate to me that they are aware of having hurt me and want to do their best to stop that cycle. Often they are too ashamed to approach the throne of Grace and experience the full power of redemption for the restoration of their relationships; but I would have missed even their small gestures if I had been holding on to my own anger.
Unforgiveness also has a way of perpetuating the cycle of sin by antagonizing the offending party. In fact, in many cases one sin is little more than a response to what the person feels is an offense I committed! And so my unforgiveness does absolutely nothing to resolve the situation! The solution is for me to humble myself and take a good look at my own heart--and risk facing the other person in that state of humility! It's not an easy thing to do, but it's the godly thing to do! "Search me, O God, and know my heart..." "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there and go and be reconciled to your brother." Would the same hold true if I was the one holding something against my brother? Certainly there are times when I cannot approach that brother because his heart is too hard. But I need to have a climate of forgiveness in my heart--and often I do not. God doesn't want my gift if my heart is full of bitterness! Why would He? I'm often not paying much attention to Him at all. I'm shoving my gift at Him, and all the while grumbling about the situation about my brother...
There are situations in my life where I have felt that forgiveness shouldn't have been my responsibility because I was younger or the person was supposed to be in a position of authority over me and should have known better. But what a statement it can make when I have a forgiving spirit! I've learned very painfully that parents are human; teachers are human; professors are human... I've learned it by being human and by being the one to need forgiveness. Even though the person might continue to hurt me time and time again, those aren't my sins to bear responsibility for. I don't perpetuate the cycle of wrongs by antagonizing the other person. And how beautiful when the reconciliation comes, even if only for a moment, even if I must wait 50 years for it! What a testimony of grace when I can run into that person's arms--that terrified, despairing person who's given up hope of any relationship with me not because of MY actions but because of her awareness of her own sin--and say, "I have been waiting for you! I love you with all the love God has given me! Please don't be afraid!"
Think of a time when you have been down or in vulnerable circumstances. Who did God send to encourage you? (p. 169)
I need to remember things like this... These memories help me during times when I feel that no one cares for my life.
What have you or someone you care about experienced that you consider the harshest evidence of life's unfairness? (p. 171)
"Will you be all right living so far away from your mom?" Is it fair that a person looks for a job for seven years just because she is blind and employers don't understand how she could do the job even though technology exists that would enable her to do the job? Is it fair that a person dies at age 18 in a head-on car accident when she's a good kid on her way to being a special education teacher? Is it fair that a 20-year-old loses her best friend to suicide because her friend's husband gets his kicks out of abusing her?
Life is not fair, but God is. He will ultimately settle all scores and make all wrongs right. ...
The real issue for us is not whether or not life is fair. The real issue is "How will I respond to the difficult and painful events that occur in my life?" Ultimately our response to difficulty becomes far more important than the hardship itself. (p. 172)
I've thought about this a lot from time to time. It's easy to get caught up in wanting life to "be fair." We live in a society where we are promised that hard work pays off, persistence pays off, etc. Something pays off. So when nothing I do "pays off" and even God is silent, I fall into that trap of thinking that life isn't fair. And it isn't. It never has been and never will be. It wasn't fair when I was plucked out of my mother's womb 12 weeks early; but no one could stop it. And it won't be fair anytime soon. That isn't going to change until I sit at the right hand of God; and if I didn't look up to that day, what kind of relationship with God would I have?