A temptation for the heart of the persecuted
The persecuted and MBBs often face rejection. The resulting pain presents a difficult temptation – closing their hearts. They may feel that closing their hearts will lessen the pain, but it actually causes an inability to feel.
When they cannot feel, joys disappear, while wounding continues. In most cases, that wounding creates deep hurts that negatively affect behavior. That bad behavior seems to be random because the person’s closed heart cannot feel the pain nor discern its cause. Monitoring capacity is lost unless the persecuted re-open their hearts.
How can an MBBs keep an open heart? It’s through trusting God and receiving His inimitable love in Christ. A part of that is being part of the local church, or even starting small groups and churches. God often uses others to bring healing, and then love can be felt again.
Explanation of how to receive God’s love, healing, and how to evangelize, disciple and start small groups and churches can be found in my book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers, for sale on this site and also on Amazon.
Keywords: Persecuted, MBB, keeping heart open
Treating serious pain like a squeaky wheel
All Christians experience pain suffered at the hands of others, especially persecuted believers. MBBs tend to experience very high levels of emotional and even physical pain. How can serious pain be best dealt with?
Some would say to ignore the pain and soldier on. The problem with that is the cause of the pain may be preventing a person from living the way that he or she is called to live. It’s better to treat pain like a squeaky wheel – understand the symptom and treating the cause while soldiering on. It’s better to not ignore the pain. Much like putting oil between two metal surfaces rubbing against each other, find healthy ways to treat the pain so the MBB can function properly.
The greater the pain, the likelihood is the the wound, physical or emotional, is more serious. Sometimes serious pain requires professional help and even a support group. In every case, ask God to heal the MBB both physically and emotionally. The emotional healing will usually take time, sometimes many years, but He does heal.
I’ve talked to many MBBs that were disowned and disinherited. Some were even tortured. Surprisingly, the ones tortured said the deepest pain came from family rejection. Emotional pain can be debilitating to a person’s soul, psyche and personal interactions. However, the MBBs that asked God for emotional healing and were willing to get help, even from professionals, fared much better than those that did not.
It is also useful for the MBB to be in fellowship with other Christians that will love and minister to the MBB. Being part of a local small group or church can be a big part of God’s plan to heal a wounded MBB.
Often, when I hurt the most, rather than allow me to devolve into a cycle of endless self-analysis and self-pity, God would provide opportunities for me to serve other people, regardless of whether they were Christian or not. Afterwards, I was often pleasantly surprised to find that though I had been in my darkest hours, reaching out to help other people had very positive benefits for me. The pain usually abated, and sometimes did not come back with the same intensity. I am not talking about giving love to others in order to get help from God – that’s not real love, which seeks to benefit others for their good. I am talking about serving others with no expectation of return. It worked well for me and may be useful to keep in mind.
After dealing with the pain while soldiering on, have the MBB refocus and continue to live out God’s will for his or her life with greater energy and passion.
Keywords: Christian, discipleship, MBB, dealing with pain
What God, our Healer, often prescribes for deepest pain
God often does things in ways that surprise us. He did so with my deepest pain, which came from being rejected by my family. It’s the kind of pain that many MBBs face. It plunges the depths of a soul, ripping and stabbing. It’s not just debilitating, it’s way deeper than that.
The first few times it happened to me it felt existential, not because I wanted to take my life (I didn’t), but I thought that I would die from the pain – I could not take it. I’m a very rational person, and could usually handle pain quite well. This was different – it was far beyond my ability to control.
I noticed two things about my reaction to the pain. I wanted to shut my heart, and I wanted to not be around people. Both of these reactions I now know to be completely counterproductive. I wanted to protect myself from feelings and relationships. God did not allow me to go in those directions. He had a prescription for me, one that may be useful to others.
God’s prescription for my pain surprised me. I say prescription because it happened so often that I’m sure that it was not a coincidence. He gave me opportunities to serve someone else. Now, I’m not talking about giving to get. In fact, I often did not realize that there was an opportunity to serve – it just came. Sometimes a friend who needed help would call. They told me of their circumstances, and compassion and scriptures would rise up in me and I would talk with my friend. Or, I would see a need and simply reach out to help.
My unplanned responses came from deep within. I know now that it was coming from my spirit, the one God gave me. The Holy Spirit was making sure that my heart would stay open that I would stay in touch with people. After reaching out, I noticed that I felt better. There was less pain, and it usually stayed away.
I had only been a Christian for a few months or years during this period, but I knew that I could not get into the trap of serving people in order to be healed. I knew that would not be real.
I began to ask God to lead and guide me in that area and to protect me from loving other people for my benefit – which is not love because love does things for others for their benefit. Years later, I woke up one day expecting that same old pain to be deep in my soul. I looked for it, and could not find it anywhere. While there are times that the memory of rejection still hurts, it is easily dealt with by remembering God‘s love for me. The pain of rejection no longer holds sway in my life. God’s prescription worked.
For MBB’s who are hurting, please ask God to heal your hurts, as well as to make you sensitive to opportunities to serve others, especially in the midst of the deepest pain. While that may seem counterintuitive, I believe it will help you. I’m sure I’m not the only person that this has worked for, because it has worked for other MBBs. I also hear it from people that I know that are going through other types of deep pain. I would also ask that you make sure that you are not giving to get, which only adds to pain.
For those who are friends of MBB’s and are working with them, please be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit regarding helping MBBs serve others. Of course, you will need to use wisdom regarding timing and opportunity, but I trust that God will lead you. You will likely find that as they reach out, they will feel better and become more fruitful than if they had not reached out.
Keywords: MBB, dealing with rejection, discipleship
Remembering the day of your salvation
MBBs, there are ways to diminish soul pain in the midst of persecution, and I’d like to tell you about one of them. I was told by a college classmate to remember my salvation during times of great pain. He said that there might be times when nothing was working, but remembering my salvation most likely would. He was right. It worked for me during very intense times, even when reading the Bible seemed to have no effect.
The word of God is always effective. I simply could not take it in by reading it in during that time. My mind was probably not able to focus properly. Yet, my soul needed to see God’s love, and the way that seemed to work every time was remembering God’s demonstrated love for me on the day that I was saved. Remembering the changes in my life, what He gave for me, that He chose me and that He would never leave made the pain more manageable. It always made me feel loved and reminded me that God was in control. It still does. Remembering makes me remember His character, which is always good.
Remembering the day of my salvation has been effective for me when dealing with intense soul pain from persecution. Please consider doing the same.
Keywords: MBB, discipleship, remembering salvation, dealing with pain, persecution
Feeling rejected? Rub love in like a lotion.
That’s what I was told a few months after I had become a Christian. It was great advice, but took me a while to discover what it meant, even though my friend told me.
He said that though I was being loved a great deal by others, I still felt rejected because of the effects of being disowned and disinherited after becoming a Christian. He said that the love was rolling off of me like water off of a duck’s back because I did not have a way to receive it.
I knew he was right, but told him I did not know how to change it. He said that much of it was about focus. I told him that in my mind my focus would often go to the thing that screamed the loudest — in this case the pain from the rejection. Acceptance and love were not being received because their voices were being drowned in the noise from the storm of pain.
He paused for a while, looking down, brow furrowed. He took so long that his wife reached out to gently touch his shoulder, reminding him of the need to speak. I think He was praying, asking God to speak through him. I believe He did.
He continued to wait, then finally told me to rub love in like a lotion. He clarified that the kind of love I should focus on was love that agreed with the description of love in 1 Corinthians:4-8 and came from people that wanted the best for me. He said I should actively focus on that love, and continue to think about it until it went in (to my mind and soul). He said I should rub the thoughts in until all the love was absorbed into me, and that I should not stop doing so until I knew that I had been loved. I should note that I was being loved by people and by God.
He said that God was building in me the ability to receive love, and eventually I would be able to take it in fully. He said that receiving love would overcome the rejection, leaving me free to grow in Christ fully, with the ability to help others.
Receiving love in my life has brought healing, comfort and confidence. It takes time, but rubbing love in like a lotion has been helpful in receiving love and practicing Philippians 4:8-9. I recommend actively receiving love if you feel rejected or are being oppressed or persecuted — yes, even rubbing love in like a lotion. It works.
Keywords: Receiving love, lotion, rejection, persecution, oppression