By Dan O’Deens
Oppressed and feeling hunted, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The enemy is all around me, trying to rob the passion of my soul.
My soul is bleeding, my is heart breaking.
I cannot bear their pain. It seems like a constant stain.
My heart is broken as it should be…a broken heart is more valuable.
What has broken the heart of God has now broken mine as well.
I choose to engage, I answer the call. It sounds so noble.
I must give my life to the young, the lost and the poor.
My eyes wide open, this injustice I will no longer ignore.
This is injustice for sure. Could it be that I am part of the cure?
At first I run with passion. Right? This ought to be my first reaction? All In!
Wait….it was just yesterday but today my heart seems jaded.
It’s harder to be persuaded that there is hope.
Injustice destroys like a drug, this is no longer so ‘dope.’
My soul is hunted. How could it be that God would allow that I become the prey?
I promise I want to stay! I fall on my knees I beg and I pray! Do not allow sin to have its way.
God of mission, hope and love please guard the hearts of those who ‘go.’
The battle is waging. Your grace is not a gentle shower washing away our problems. Your grace is a raging roaring river and its current knocks us off our feet and yet it carries us into Your very presence.
It is your presence that will sustain us. It is your life that renews our vision. Like you we must die in order to live. Forgive me for missing the point. There is no gain without pain. The struggle we face today provides the strength we need for tomorrow. If we have nothing worth dying for then we have nothing worth living for.
Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Continue to mold and break my heart, but Lord I plead protect and mend my jaded heart.
The story of a Jaded Heart
For those who choose to serve in ‘hard’ places the enemy is persistent and relentless. We give and we give and it seems as though it is never enough. The struggle seems greater for those who serve in developing countries and world class cities.
We understand that tensions are meant to be managed rather than controlled. We understand issues of toxic charity and when helping hurts, but we try to balance that with real and difficult issues of sustainability and generosity and that we have been blessed so that we might be a blessing to others.
Facing difficult circumstances in the spaces we serve we remain oddly hopeful. Crisis and poverty offers danger but also opportunity. Courageous leadership sees beyond the danger to leverage the hidden opportunity for change. We can choose to be negative or find a way to help. Together we will look for meaningful opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.
The systemic problems of poverty leaves us frustrated, warn, discouraged and so often perplexed. We just don’t ‘get it.’ WHY? Why would a people lash out and destroy and tear down the people and programs that exist to serve them and give them hope?
What do they ‘want? What do they ‘need?’ The answer to either question is simple but never clear to the person whose world is skewed due to the reality that they were not born into privilege. Their eyes have been blinded by the ‘god’ of this age. They cannot see the LIGHT of the Gospel. What they need is Jesus. He is their hope. He is LOVE.
Loving communication remains the root of truth for those of us committed to helping the people who reside in desecrated spaces. We must remain. We must be present. Jesus came to redeem and to return desecrated space into sacred space. We must love as Jesus loves. Love is an action. Love is selfless. Love is unconditional. Love holds no record of past accounts. Love is HARD. He who loves first wins but that love is never realized until demonstrated in the flesh. And…He became flesh and dwelt among us. He moved into the neighborhood and we must too.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
INJUSTICE is a reality in the world in which we live. I have been born into privilege. Sometimes I want to ask God why He doesn’t do something about poverty, famine, racism and injustice in the world, but I am afraid of his response, “why don’t you?” Scripture teaches that we are His hands and feet and voice in His world. We are the light of the world.
This Christmas the LIGHT of the WORLD has come. Let my heart remain open. In the pain of injustice may our hearts remain joyful. May we refrain from jaded hearts.
CRYING AGAIN FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM INJUSTICE
This year has awakened my soul. Like the prophets of old, I cry out to God.
The realization that we have become like Israel in the days of the judges. Scripture says, in those days, ‘everyone did that which was right in their own eyes.’ When there is no moral compass we all go astray. Even when there is, we choose badly and go our own way.
Luke 19 is an amazing chapter.
The Parable of the Talents. Jesus gave talents (riches and blessing) and when the one owner out of fear hid his talent and was not a good steward of his talent, it was taken away from him. I wonder if God in his loving justice withholds or perhaps even takes away his blessing on a people who dishonor Him?
The Triumphal Entry. A coat was given to the followers of Jesus, so a donkey whose rider was Jesus could be trampled. Have my possessions become so tightly grasped into a clenched fist that I view the things that God has given to me as more precious and worthy than any path that life might call me. Jesus was on the path of suffering. Are we worthy of the calling to suffer for the name of Jesus? What if that meant I would have to lay down my life for the sake of another?
The people shouted “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest” The Pharisee’s did not like this and told Jesus to rebuke his followers. His response. “If they keep quiet the stones will cry out.”
JESUS WEPT. As (Jesus) approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. ‘The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.’ Jesus was speaking of Jerusalem. Could this also be the day of reckoning and a righteous call to redemption?
I cannot imagine waking up every day to write a new chapter in Lamentations. Look at his 2nd chapter. Throughout the writings of Jeremiah, we read things like, ‘The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.’ Do you ‘feel’ like this as an American?
And then Jeremiah continues, ‘Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children.’ Have we lost our greatest weapon? I would suggest it is not a picket sign in protest, but a bended knee in prayer to the only One who can change the heart man.
Matthew 12:21,22 ‘A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish, till He leads justice to victory. In HIS name the nations will put their hope.’
Hebrews 11 attributes Abraham as a leader and servant of God. Abraham was the ‘father’ of the nation of God and we can learn from his focus. These were the words that demonstrated his success; ‘For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and building is God.
What are we ‘building?’ Larger homes, larger church buildings, platforms, larger empires….that according to Scripture will fade away! Do NOT lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break through and steal. This world is NOT our home. Only two things last forever, the Word of God and people. Who are you investing in today?
1 Chronicles 29:15 ‘We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.’ This verse is not discouraging for believers. For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Are we living for the eternal. Are we willing to suffer and maybe even die for the cause of Christ.
2 Chronicles 7:14 ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’
FATHER, like Paul in Ephesians 3, I bow my knee before you. Strengthen me by your Spirit in my inner man. Dwell (take residence once again) in my heart, purify my heart. And let me comprehend the height and depth of your love. Your love is not dependent on my material wealth. Your love is unconditional. Thank you for demonstrating that Love to me while I was in my worst sin.
Restore to me, to us again, the JOY of your SALVATION!
Protect my spirit from becoming hardened and afflicted by a jaded heart!