“The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed” (Psalm 143:3-4). Have you felt this way?
Over the course of time all Christian leaders and ministries will come under attack, especially when the gospel is making significant advances in this world. It is difficult and it is painful. Often these attacks can derail us or move us into a “defensive posture” severely limiting our effectiveness. I have come across many such hurting people over the last number of years. Sometimes the victim is a mature and seasoned leader in an established ministry, and other times it is a young church planter just getting off the ground.
We must not think it strange when we come under attack. We can see this all throughout the past, not only in the biblical accounts, but in church history. Sure, it’s not easy, but it’s the common reality. We can also see how people responded—good and bad. Somehow we tend to think that if we love God, obey Him, and follow Him, life will be easier for us than it has been for others. Not so!
Most often the attacks are aimed at the things we value most; our family, integrity, motives, work for the Lord, or our reputation. Satan knows what will cut the deepest and that is how he crafts his plan against us. He is also cruel in the way he uses people to carry out his work, using those who have been close to us, should be close to us, or those we have poured our lives into. If we understand this it will make it easier to respond properly.
Remember, we can’t control what people say about us or what they do to us, but we can control how we respond. The best way to expend our energy is not by fighting back but by praying for our antagonists and then looking for ways God is working. Even though an attacker may be carnally motivated, dishonest, and hurtful, God is still sovereign over all and is working in our lives and all around us. Don’t miss that!
Here are a few things I try to keep before me:
- See a sovereign God as He is, surrender your burden to Him, and ask for His help.
- Keep your focus on what you are called to do.
- Assume the best motive and give the benefit of doubt to those attacking you.
- Pray for them.
- Leave justice with God. He knows all the facts, we don’t.
- Do your best to reconcile, but also realize it may not be possible.
- Don’t speak negatively about anyone, speak directly to them in a spirit of humility.
- Look for ways that God is at work and join Him in it.
- Don’t lose your joy and peace. No one should have the power to take these from you.
You have probably heard the expression, “hurt people hurt people.” The next time an attack comes your way remember these words: “Remind the people…to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2).