Joyce Meyer - Suffering
- How to know Jesus
Well, you are gonna love my message today. I just really believe that you're gonna love it. How many of you think you're already gonna love it and you don't even know what it's gonna be on? Well, I think I'll turn around backwards while I tell you what it is. Today I'm gonna teach on suffering. Now, you know, I really tried to put a cute title on this, and I just couldn't come up with anything. So I just thought I'd call it what it is. You know, we all suffer, don't we? And so if we're gonna do it, we might as well learn how to do it right. We might as well learn how to do it and get some value out of it while we're on our way.
We go through things. It's interesting. I began to realize that Bible preachers and teachers, you know, it's hard to even use that word when you're in the pulpit, to be honest, because people just don't like it. They don't like the word, they don't like the thought of doing it. If there's anything we'd love to get out of in life it's any kind of suffering or discomfort, and so we've come up with new phrases, several of them aren't even in the Bible, but it's when you're going through something, now the Bible talks about that. When you're struggling, when you're have difficulty, when you're experiencing opposition, when you have a challenge. And I got to thinking about that, and I thought why do we have such a hard time just saying when you're suffering?
And so I did a little word study, and I found out then the King James translation the word "Suffering" or "Suffer" is in there 165 times. The Amplified Bible ramps it up a little. It's in there 175 times. I looked at one of the most modern, most popular, translations and it's only in there 59 times, and I thought, well, isn't it interesting? I hope that we don't modernize the truth out of the word and get to the point where people don't really know what to expect and aren't prepared for it. You see, I don't apologize for talking about this today, although I did try to get out of it. I did.
One point I was studying this and I thought, "Oh, God, I don't wanna go there and do that. I don't wanna do that". And so I went back. I've got this whole two cabinets full of messages that I've taught over the years, and not that I just go and pull out a message, but sometimes it'll spark an idea in me. So I went back to my messages, and I looked at everything and I got this one out and that one out. And I can always tell what's right because it clicks or it doesn't. And it was just like, "No, that's not right, that's not right". And I finally just said to God, "You're gonna make me go do this, aren't you"? And so I just want you to know if you don't like this message today, you talk to God about it, 'cause he's the one that's making me do it.
Suffering means to leave or to permit, to bear with or to stay under. You know, the first thing we wanna do when we're suffering is we wanna run. We wanna get away from it some way, shape, or form. But you know what? You gotta go through the hard part to get to the good part. And that's really the main thought that I wanna leave you with today. You gotta go through the hard part to get to the good part. And that doesn't mean the hard part's always fair. Life is not always fair, but God is fair. God is a God of justice, and that's one of my favorite things about the character of God. And justice means that he always makes wrong things right. God always makes wrong things right if... Everybody say if. We trust him and if we handle the wrong thing in the right way.
See, so often we don't respond in a godly way when we're going through things like that, and then we just have to keep going through it over, and over, and over, and over in the hopes that eventually we will get it. You know, I suffered so much in my soul in the early years in my walk with God and in the early years of this ministry. And I can actually say that I suffered more when I started trying to grow up in God than I did before I cared. How many of you know what I mean by that? It's like I was happy sinning. I mean, I really wasn't happy doing it, but it was like, it's not hard on your flesh to sin.
And so when I really got into a serious walk with God, and back in the '70s I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and man, I started reading the word and, you know, when you really study the word, you start seeing what a mess you are. You finally have to stop blaming it on somebody else and take a look at yourself, because the Word of God is like a mirror. And you see Christ in there and you see how far you have to go, so if we're smart and we really love God and we wanna do this thing right, we'll start praying, "God, change me". Oh, honey, that's a dangerous thing to pray. "Oh, God, change me". And then we have these, "Oh, break me, God. Break my heart with what breaks your heart. Make me just like you, Jesus".
Oh, man, I feel the pain already. And I just had this pain in my soul all the time, especially like when God would tell me, "You know, that's really not dave's fault. It's your fault". Well, I didn't want it to be my fault. I wanted it to be dave's fault. And I wanted God to deal with Dave. I didn't want him to deal with me all the time. I remember one time going to Dave and saying, "Is God dealing with you about anything"? Because I was going through such a hard time, and I just wanted to know that God was in dave's face too. "Dave, is God dealing with you about anything"? He looked at me, he said, "Well, I don't think so".
How many of you know what I'm talking about? Sometimes you just think, "God, can't you pick on anybody besides me? Am I the only one that's got a problem"? And so I went through so much all the time. And you know what? I don't really go through that much anymore. Now, that doesn't mean that my life is perfect or that I don't have problems. If any of you were here for the first service, you heard me read my list of 34 things that happened in eight weeks, none of which were fun. But honestly, they didn't bother me all that much, 'cause you see... Now I want you to hear what I'm gonna say: a lot of our suffering is connected to how we respond.
Somebody over here thinks they understand me. See, I said that and somebody went... See, honestly, how we respond, we can make a bigger deal out of things than what they are. I mean, is it really the end of the world if I don't get my way about something? Do I really have to get mad at Dave for three weeks over that and be depressed and feel sorry for myself? But that's what I used to do, and I suffered. When you get a sweet attitude, you put yourself in God's hands, and you start to really trust him and believe that he's got a good plan for you, a lot of that stuff goes away. The more spiritually mature we become, the more we grow up in God, and it's not easy growing up in God, but the more we grow up in God, the more peaceful our lives become.
And so I am just pleading with you today. The apostle Paul said things to the saints, and he said, "I beg you for Christ's sake". And so I'm pleading with you today, whatever God is trying to do in your life right now, even if you don't understand it, don't run away from it. Trust God. Let him do what he wants to do in you, so you can have the life that he really wants you to have, amen? Now, I got something really funny to read you. I brought one of my journals from 1989. Lord have mercy. Now, I'm gonna let you into my personal life for a few minutes. We're gonna be really close after this.
"December 26, 1989. Well, Christmas is over, God is good. From a spiritual standpoint I've been having a really rough time. A lot of things going on for a while that I've just been saying, 'oh well, I'm gonna cast my care and everything's gonna be okay'. But today everything just blew up in my face. Dave and I had a discussion that wasn't good".
That means we had a fight. "He feels I have to have control or I'm not satisfied. I feel he's wrong and being very unfair. We have a very hard time communicating when we differ in our opinions. But this was the last straw, so to speak. And everything I've been feeling but casting my care about came tumbling in on me, so here it is. I've been having a hard time getting my messages, at least much harder than usual. I've been having a hard time hearing from God. I've been feeling very little anointing. It seems that the more I've pressed into the spirit, the more God hides himself and requires me to go strictly on faith alone".
Is anybody relating to anything I'm saying? Okay, "I just had a surgery, and now I've got one more to go. Our attendance in our meetings has fallen off because we're in the holiday season. I've had a lot of weird feelings. My mind is lazy. I feel bored, and I'm discontented. All of this has sort of come at once. I also feel that I just don't know how to pray. I've really had a hard time praying. Today it all seems to be too much. God, help me. I feel like I'm gonna go under, but I know I probably won't. Well, I trust that you're doing something", underlined something, "But I sure don't know what it is".
Oh, you just wait. "Probably wanting a greater degree of abandon from me, I guess. I'm not sure that I can do it, but I'm willing to let you do it if you want to. Dave always feels I'm at fault, and it's never him. To be honest, this is really hard", underline really hard, "On my flesh. But I don't suppose it matters much. It's all pride anyway". Now here comes the really sad part. "I'm really sorry to have to report, that I've had to tell the Lord tonight that I have gone as far as I can go. I quit. That's it, done, finished. Two years ago I said, 'God, take me as deep as you want to. I'm willing to do whatever you need me to do,' but I really do not wanna go on like this".
For the second time I said, "I'm telling you that I have gone as far as I can go. I don't know for sure if I can get out of this. God may not let me out, but I never really thought I would back down, so on top of everything else now, it seems that I am a spiritual coward". I was in a mess to say the least. December 26, 1989. Well, apparently, nine years later on December 20, 1998, I came across this, so nine years later I wrote: "I was reading this old notebook and thought I would give you guys an update. Things have changed drastically. I'm now on 375 television stations, 250 radio stations".
Come on. Come on, you gotta make it through the hard part to get to the good part. "Our ministry is very successful. I've changed drastically. I enjoy peace almost continually. I've continued all these years to have some health struggles but in the midst of it all, God has given me grace to do all he's called me to do. It has been hard at times, but I can say from experience that God is faithful. I have four grandchildren," which are now 11, and one more on the way. My youngest son had just gotten married. "Dave and I love each other very much. We get along really good almost all the time". That's what nine years will do for you.
So I hope that me sharing that personal side of my life will help you to realize that we all feel like giving up sometimes. We all go through times where we feel like God is one million miles away, when we don't have any idea what he's doing, when we're tired, when we're weary, when we think we just can't go on. But no matter how many times you threaten to give up, I can already tell you that God's not gonna put up with that. He'll keep coming after you, and keep coming after you, and keep coming after you, and keep coming after you, and keep coming after you. And he's gonna work with you and help you be all that he wants you to be, no matter what.
So we're gonna talk about suffering today because I want you to make it all the way through to the end. You see, the beginning is exciting, the end is exciting for the few who ever get there, but it's the middle that's hard. So we have to take the time to talk about the middle and all the things that you go through that you don't talk to anybody about or you feel you can't talk to anybody about, because if you did talk to anybody about it they probably would judge you, and so we keep our secrets and we hide in these dark places and we wonder if we're gonna survive. But God is always there with us. He sees everything, he knows everything. And God has got an amazingly, unbelievably good plan for your life, and so I just encourage you to make it through the hard part so you can get to the good part, amen?
Now, the number one reason why people who say they don't believe in God, don't believe in God is because they can't understand why there is so much suffering and evil in the world. They say, "If God is a good God, then why do all these bad things happen"? Well, let me just throw out for your consideration today that demanding to know why everything happens is probably about the worst thing in the world that any of us can do. God's not gonna give you all the answers. He's not gonna give me all the answers. There's gonna be things that happen that seem so unfair that you just feel like you can't stand it. I can't explain 'em all to you. Nobody else can explain 'em all to you. We can't say, "Well, you didn't have enough faith, or you're this or you're that or you're something else," because sometimes it seems to be pretty random concerning what happens to who.
We recently had a real tragic flood right in my neighborhood. I was out of town. I mean, it wasn't gonna affect our house, 'cause we don't live in a low area, but we know people that lost everything. And one of them is a beautiful young girl that works for us. She heads up our medical missions and just has a great heart. Hasn't been married all that long. Has got a child, or does she have two? She has two by now, and so they lost everything. Everything, all the furniture, all the house, everything. And you could probably walk right down the street and there'd be some evil, wicked, miserable person who didn't lose anything.
Well, you're not gonna figure that out. I mean, saying, "Why?" is just pretty much useless, and I don't think God wants to hear so many whys: I think he wants to hear, "I trust you. I don't understand this. This hurts. I feel like it's gonna kill me, but I trust you. And I believe, God, that no matter what happens, you can and will work it out for good if I will keep my eyes on you". Can I tell you that there are a lot of mysteries hidden in God. The Bible talks about the mysteries of God and the mysteries of Christ, like, numerous times. There's, like, nine, ten scriptures that you can pull out about the mysteries of God.
And in 1 Corinthians it says: "We know in part, we prophesy in part, but the day will come when we will know even as we are known". Some of the things we think we wanna know, if we knew, we wouldn't even like what we found out. So we need to trust God that if he wants us to know something, we'll know, and if not, it's not our job to figure it out. It's our job to trust him. I'll tell you what, I feel so sorry for people, I mean, genuinely sorry for people who are so mental that they just can't stand to not have all the answers to everything. It is absolute torment to have to spend your life trying to figure everything out, and I know because I was the queen of "Why, God, why"? And I'll tell you what you get from that. Confusion. Nothing but confusion.
The Bible says: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and mind. Lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways just acknowledge him, and he will direct your path". I don't understand why my dad sexually abused me for 15 years. I don't understand why my mother didn't do something about it. Why she abandoned me to the situation and was so cowardly she wouldn't confront my dad. I don't understand why God didn't get me out of it because I was born-again as a nine-year-old child and I prayed that God would get me out of there. I mean, I prayed things I probably shouldn't have prayed. I prayed that my dad would die, I prayed that my mother would divorce him. I prayed a lot of things. I just wanted to get out of the suffering. But it didn't happen the way that I wanted it to happen. God didn't get me out of it. But he gave me the grace to go through it.
And I'll tell you something. I'm like a bulldog. I mean, I am strong, amen? And so when you're going through hard things, you got two choices. You can give in and give up, or you can get strong. I love what the Bible says, and I think it's in... See if I can find this real quick. I think it's Psalm 105, 125, we'll see here. See how my memory is. Yeah, 105:18. For it starts with 17. He's talking about Joseph and the things that he went through and how unfair they were. "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold as a servant," and a slave. "His feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in chains of iron and his soul entered into the iron".
Now some of you are just like, "Well, what does that mean"? Well, I'll tell you what. When he had those chains on his feet and his arms, and he was suffering all this stuff that was so unfair and so not right, and he was just a young guy with a dream. I mean, he loved God, and he had a dream. The next thing he knew he was in prison for something he didn't do. He was in chains. But it said, and you know, by the way, there's no evidence in the Bible that Joseph ever had a bad attitude. There's no evidence that he ever did anything except trust God, and the interesting thing was, was that every place the guy went God gave him favor, and he ended up in charge. I mean, he even ended up in charge of the prison. That's not a bad deal, you know that?
But when it says, "And his soul entered into the iron," what I think about is that iron, that suffering he was going through got mixed in with his soul, and it made him so strong inside that he could do everything that God wanted him to do and ended up being a great blessing to many, many, many, multiplied millions of people. So I can just tell you, I got a little iron in my soul, amen? And I believe that we can do anything that God gives us to do, but the one thing we cannot do is give up when it gets hard. I don't understand why God didn't deliver me out of that. But I'll tell you what, there's millions of people all over the world that have been sexually abused that are glad that I can talk about it now, in the way that I talk about it. I don't know. You may not like this. I hope I don't offend anybody today, but I think sometimes God will let us go through something that he could deliver us from because he intends to use us to deliver other people from that same thing. Amen?
Paul said all the time, "I'm suffering for your sake. I'm going through this for your sake". And even, like, when he was in prison, he wanted the people to watch how he handled himself when he was in prison, so they knew that if they were persecuted for their faith and put in prison that they could also go through that and they would make it. The world needs to see something other than cowards. The world needs to see people that will stand up and not run away from every hard place in life, but will say, in the midst of all of their trouble, "God is good, and I trust him, and I love him, and he will bring me out of this, and I will have victory in my life".
I don't know what you might be going through today, but I want you to know that God knows what you're going through today. And he knows every little bit of pain that you've got. He knows every tear that you've cried. And I know you've asked him many times: "Why did my loved one die"? "Why did I lose my job"? "Why did I lose my retirement"? "Why did my house burned down"? "Why was my house destroyed"? "Why, why, why, why, why"? You know what? Trade all those why's for, "God, I trust you. God I trust you. I don't know why, but I love you enough that I don't have to know why". I'll tell you what, I believe that God is good. And I don't care what the devil tries. I don't care what the world does. I don't care what wicked, evil people do, my God is a good God, and I believe that anybody who doesn't believe in him is making a serious mistake in their life.
And I don't know about you, but I think real severe, emotional pain is much worse than some kind of physical pain. I mean, I'd rather have a bad headache any day than a broken heart. I mean, at least when you got something going on in your flesh, you can maybe go get some medicine for it but when it's in your soul, God's the only one that can take care of it. Amen? To be honest, I can't even imagine what Dave went through trying to stay married to me the first few years that we were married. And I mean, I know that sounds funny, but honestly, I was a mess. I was really a mess.
And, you know, there's a lot of funny stories connected with it. Dave and I had five dates and got married. Well, you know, that's not too bright but I think we had to do it quick before he found out what I was like. I mean, there was no time there to waste. And the very night he met me, he said that he said to God, "That's the girl for me". So, I mean it was really a divine thing for us. You know, I mean really, it truly was. And God had him prepared. He was very spiritually strong, very mature, and he had him prepared to deal with me, this brokenhearted girl who did love God but had so many wounds in my soul.
Well, I know that Dave was not comfortable a lot of those years, that it was hard. Let me tell ya something, sometimes just like Jesus suffered for us, God will call on you to be uncomfortable or to suffer in your soul in order for somebody else to be brought into the kingdom, to be set free. We're never gonna be used by God if we think everything's gotta be comfortable for us all the time. Don't run away from things. Only leave when you know God's saying, "Leave". The word "Suffer" means to stay under. Stay under some things that maybe you'd prefer to get away from.
Dave was a strong Christian and I don't, you know, he didn't have divorcing me in his mind but I know that it had to be very hard sometimes. But I want you to fast forward now, 49 years. We've been married 49 years. And I want you to see what a fine wife he has now. I mean, just look what he would have missed if he would have given up on me. I told Dave the other day, 'cause I am so feisty, I told Dave the other day I said, "Dave, if anything ever happened to me, you could never get married again because if you married anybody normal, you would be bored to death". He said, "No, you're right. I don't think anybody could top you, so" when we stick with someone or something that we'd prefer to run away from, we suffer in our souls. To suffer means to finish your goal even though you experience adversity.
You see, I'm big on finishing. It's not hard to start something. Everybody claps and cheers when you start. They think your ideas are great ideas. They don't plan to help you get 'em finished, but they think they're good ideas. But you're gonna have to go through things. I don't care whether you start a business, whether you're raising a child, you want to get married, you wanna have a good marriage, you wanna get your home paid off, you want to be in ministry, whatever it is, you're gonna get some opposition from Satan. "A wide door of opportunity opened unto me," Paul said, "And with it, many adversaries".
I think that we have to toughen up a little bit in the church today and not be so quick to run away from things. This is another whole series of messages, but I did a whole series of teachings on running, running away from stuff. And, you know, there's several great stories in the Bible where people ran from things that were hard and every single time they ran, they ended up in the wilderness. And then eventually, God made them go back and face the very thing that they ran from. It happened to Hagar. It happened to Moses. I mean, there's just so many people that the same thing happened to. They ran. They were miserable in the wilderness. God appears sometimes years later. He said to Moses, "Now go back to Egypt". He said to Hagar, "Now go back to your mistress and submit to her control".
Well, how do you like that? Nobody likes that. "I want you to go pop them upside the head, God, not make me go back and just put up with it". Y'all still okay out there? Well, why didn't God just make a world where there was no evil or suffering? Well, he did. Day one, Garden of Eden. Everything was great. It wasn't God that messed it up: man messed it up. Well, and let's don't get mad at Adam and Eve. We would have done the same thing if we would have been there and probably quicker than they did. God wanted us to love him and in order for there to be love, there always has to be free choice. You can't have love without free choice. Don't ever expect anybody to love that you that you try to control. Don't ever expect anybody to love you that you try to control. They'll just resent you. Even if you're successful in controlling them, they will resent you.
So, God gave man free choice so when he gave us free choice, he knew there was the possibility of evil. That wasn't his will. He said, "You've got all this. I'm only asking you not to do this one thing". Loads of freedom. There's only one thing that God doesn't want you to do because if you do that, it's not gonna be good for you. Well, they did it anyway. And you know the story. It's not God's fault that there's wickedness and evil in the world. It's not his fault. Don't blame your problems on God. Now, half of the scriptures about suffering, half of them, which this is really good news, are all about God delivering us from suffering. Whoo!
See, look, look how excited you got. I didn't get any whoo when I said there's 175 scriptures about suffering. But when I said half of them are about God delivering you from suffering whoo, yeah, amen. However, not one of those says when. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers them out of them all". When? "Be not weary in well doing, for in due season, you shall reap if you faint not". When?
So, why is it that sometimes we get ourselves in a mess because all suffering is caused by sin? It's either our sin, it's somebody else's sin. In my instance, it was my father's sin that caused my suffering. It was my mother's sin that caused my suffering. A great deal of our suffering comes from things that other people do. We'd like to think they're all unbelievers but that's not even true. A lot of them are Christians and that really stinks. Amen? And then there's just the sin principle at work in the world and so there's just evil in the world.
And, you know, I've been thinking about this, how many you can tell that wickedness and evil just seems worse than ever in the world today? I mean, it's hard for me to even believe in the number of years that I've been alive how it is multiplying. But here's kind of what I've been thinking lately, I think the more time that goes by, the more wickedness and evil the devil being behind all that has a chance to work and it just keeps multiplying and multiplying. And I believe, this is my opinion, not starting a new doctrine. I believe that even a lot of the weird weather, and the floods, and the storms, I think a lot of it is the earth just groaning under the weight of sin.
The Bible says that even the earth is waiting for the redemption of the sons of men, that the earth groans under the weight of sin. But here's what God's asking of us, we are the light of the world and all God wants us to do is get out there in our little corner of it and shine. Amen? And part of that shining is not complaining. We learned that in the first service. Part of that is letting people know, and I'm not saying preach them a sermon. "Yeah, I'm going through a really hard time right now. I don't understand why this happened. I don't understand why this happened, but I trust God".
Let people know you trust God. God is good and I trust God. I believe that he'll work this out for my good. Let me tell ya something, if we will get out in the world and start acting like Christians instead of acting like all the people that aren't Christians, they've gotta be able to tell the difference between us and them. We gotta show them something that they want. We're not gonna impress anybody if we never have any problems. Jesus said, "In the world", guess what? "You will have tribulation. Cheer up. I have overcome the world". You know what? We've already read the end of the book. We know what's gonna happen. Here's an interesting thought, you know, you don't have to win every single battle to win the war. We've already won the war.
Ginger: Joyce, church is such a blessing to us.
Joyce Meyer: Yeah.
Ginger: Being able to be in the body together, to have those close relationships, to learn about Christ, to serve: there's so many important things about being in church. But there are many people who are watching, right now, who have also been hurt in that environment. And so, often times, when that happens, then they are afraid to go back or it even changes the way they think about who God is.
Joyce Meyer: Well, I'm one of those people.
Ginger: Oh, good! No, that's a horrible thing to say! Not good, but I'm glad you understand.
Joyce Meyer: It didn't change how I felt about God but I did get really hurt in church. And I think that our expectations have a lot to do with it, because you get hurt everywhere else, but somehow you think you won't get hurt by a Christian. But the thing that people have to realize is that... I heard one time that church is just a hospital for a bunch of dysfunctional people, and it's true. I mean, you know, we're still people and you still deal with all the same stuff that you deal with. I mean, you're supposed to grow and get to the point where that's not the case. But you have baby Christians, and people that aren't even Christians yet, and you know, there's just...
Ginger: And mature Christians, who do the wrong thing.
Joyce Meyer: And mature Christians, having a bad day and take it out on you, and we do. It's foolish to think, anytime, and I hope this doesn't sound negative. But anytime that you deal with people, you have a possibility of getting hurt.
Joyce Meyer: That's why Jesus told us to be quick to forgive, and ready to forgive over, and over, and over, and over again, and to not be touchy, and to not be easily offended. And we have to keep in mind that sometimes people may intend to hurt you, but most of the time, it's not their intention, they're just dealing with their own stuff and you get in the way of it.
Ginger: Sure. Well, I had a situation where there was a lot of talk about me in church. In other other words, I had made a decision that some other people felt differently about, and it wasn't anything about right or wrong or against the Word of God. It was just a decision that people, as a small group of people, disagreed with. And so, it became a much bigger deal than it should have been, and it became a point of hurt for me. Part of my question for you, or such a great thing to talk about is, how do we deal with something like that? So that I don't take it to heart so much, I let God heal me, and that people who are in that situation know how to handle it differently when it's coming their way?
Joyce Meyer: Well, I do think that the first thing is your expectations. You know, just, don't even go into a situation, expecting to never be hurt. I'm mean, like, you can't get married and expect to never be hurt. You can't get involved in a group of people and expect to never ever get hurt. But we have to keep in mind, that we very possibly, maybe, hurting other people from time-to-time and don't even realize it. And if you realize that church people are still "People," you gotta amplify the people part, you know? They're there but they're still people and they still, there's jealousies. There's, you know, one of the things that I got really hurt over was caused by a girl that really, in essence, wanted my job. I taught the women's meeting at the church and it was a good-sized meeting with several hundred people. And all this talk started about me and people decided that I was this, that, and something else. And it's amazing the trouble that one or two people can cause especially, if they don't recognize when Satan is putting things in their head.
Ginger: That's very true.
Joyce Meyer: And you know, love is supposed to be our number one goal, and they weren't walking in love, they were walking in suspicion. And I mean, I got really, really, really hurt. It took me about three years to get over it.
Ginger: And talk can do a lot of damage.
Joyce Meyer: Oh, it can. And really, I've discovered, if somebody comes to me and says something to me about somebody else that's unkind, even if I don't wanna believe it, it still affects me. You still have a tendency to wonder, or look at the person in a different way. That's why each of us, we really need to take the responsibility to not gossip and not be judgmental. And if you "Think" something that's unkind, take it to God in prayer. Don't take it to somebody else in conversation. Or what does the Bible say, "If your brother offends you, go first to him privately," the Amplified Bible says. Talk to him about it. It doesn't say go tell everybody else. And usually, we don't talk to the person, we talk to everybody else.
Ginger: Yeah, so there are certain things that can happen in a church setting, for instance, there are sometimes when a person is overextended or overworked, asked to do too much, kinda feel like they're taking advantage of. There are sometimes where authority is abused, expectations, like you said. So, let's talk about that church hurt and encourage someone who's been in any of those positions, right now, and especially, how it does relate to who God is and all of this.
Joyce Meyer: Well, first, let's talk about not being appreciated.
Ginger: That's a great place to start.
Joyce Meyer: You know, let's just say that you work in the nursery, and you've been faithful in the nursery for years, and years, and years, and you hear plenty of complaints from moms who don't like the way you're taking care of their kids, but how often does somebody come and say, "I want you to know, I really appreciate you being in here every week". So, we have to make sure that we do what we do unto the Lord. And you know, these are conscious decisions that we have to make. And you can't, just because it's "God's house," you can't blame God, if you get hurt. Because although, God urges people and encourages them to do the right thing, when they do the wrong thing, that's not his fault. It's not something that you you blame him for. And church, you gotta think about all the good things. Church is still a great place to be. And as far as being taken advantage of, we all have a tendency to go to the person that we think is gonna say, "Yes," when we need help, because not everybody is willing to help. But then, we have a responsibility instead of getting mad at them, because they took advantage of us, it's really our responsibility to say, "No," and that's the big thing. You know, we get into blaming everybody else, and you can't, you know, you don't wanna leave a church because you got hurt. I mean, the same way you leave one is the way you're gonna enter the next one. And really, if you're gonna go to church, you might as well just figure, if you're gonna get involved with people, that there are times when you're gonna get hurt. And I remember, this was a different situation, I was dealing with trying to learn how to be a "Submissive wife". I'm probably still working on that. But I'd been hurt so much by men, that I couldn't even grasp how God could ask me, to trust God, I mean, to trust Dave. And I said, "I know I'll get hurt," and he said, "Yes, you will, but I'm always here to heal you". And so, you know, we take those hurts to God and we believe the best of people. I'll tell you, the Bible says, "Love always believes the best of every person," and I have discovered, if you believe the best, it saves you so much heartache and so much trouble. And not only that, I believe that it opens the door, gives God an opportunity to work on that person's heart then. If we're responding wrong, if we're getting angry, then we're preventing God from working in that person's life. That's why the Bible says to pray...
Ginger: That's an interesting way to look at it.
Joyce Meyer: For your enemies. And so, we can't expect God to work in a person's life to change them, if we're not doing things the way God tells us to do them. So, instead of, "Well, you did this, and you did this, and you did that," "What about me? Am I handling this right? Am I praying"?
Ginger: That's the only one you're responsible for.
Joyce Meyer: Yeah. I can't make anybody else behave right, but I can. I can be responsible for myself. And then, I think, when we do things God's way that's what opens the door. You know, when you pray for somebody that's hurt you, that's what opens the door for God to deal with them. I remember tellin' the Lord one time, "I don't want to pray for my, I don't want 'em to be blessed". You know, "Bless your enemies, pray for them," it says. And I was just being honest, "I don't want 'em to be blessed". And I felt like what God taught me out of that was that, "I'm not gonna give 'em a new car if you pray for 'em to be blessed. First thing, I'll give 'em is some truth about their behavior". God will open people's eyes to their behavior and what they're doing, if you do things God's way.
Ginger: Let me ask you, one more scenario. I think this is so helpful. I think it's so good. You've already talked about the people in the church, they're just like the people everywhere else, but there is still that thing that we hear so often is: church is full of hypocrites. I don't want to be there because I've seen how they are. How do you combat that type of hurt?
Joyce Meyer: Well, to be honest, this is my feeling, I think for most people, that's just an excuse not to be part of it. I mean, I really think that, "Well they're just hypocrites". Well...
Ginger: Where is there not?
Joyce Meyer: Then go and be a good example and hopefully, they'll see your good example and change. You know, we can't, it really is just an excuse because everybody makes mistakes. We all make mistakes. You know, you can't be married to somebody for a lot of years and not make mistakes. Dave and I've been married 50, was is it, 53 or 54? I forget sometimes. It'll be 54, coming up.
Ginger: I heard you say 54, recently.
Joyce Meyer: Yeah, anyway, long time, we've been married a long time. You know it's a long time when you can't remember how long it's been. And just the other day, he said, "Well, you don't you be so snotty about it". So, I sent him an email later, and I signed it, "The snot". And so, how many times have you had to forgive tim, in the years that you've been married?
Ginger: Quite a few.
Joyce Meyer: How many times have I had to forgive Dave?
Ginger: And how many has he had to forgive me? Not as many, but a lot.
Joyce Meyer: Yeah, right. Not nearly as many. But that's better than starting all over, you'll have to forgive that person too.
Ginger: That's a great point.
Joyce Meyer: So, if you get hurt in this church and you leave, I mean, unless you just come in and sit in the back pew, come in just right before the worship starts and leave as soon as everything's over, if you never get involved, then you won't get hurt. But you're hurting yourself, you're robbing the rest of the people of your gifts, and that's why God wants us to come together, so we share our gifts, I mean, God puts gifts in me and in you, they're in there for other people. Like, your gift is work to you, other people benefit from it. Same way with me, you know, I'm a gifted speaker, but I have to do a lot of work to say what I'm going to get up and say. And everybody else just gets to benefit from that. So, you don't want to rob people of your gifts. That's not God's desire. And I really do think we just need to not be so touchy, you know, something happened the other day and somebody did something and I started to think, "Well, blah, blah, blah, blah blah". And then, I thought, "You know what? That's just silly. I'm just gonna make myself miserable. And I don't know they intended to do that. I'm just gonna believe the best and go on about my business".
Ginger: So, in closing, what words of healing would you have for someone who was really hurt in their church environment?
Joyce Meyer: Well, you take it to God, and to be honest, the first step to healing, and I want everybody to get this, the first step to healing is to forgive. You really cannot, your soul cannot be healed, your wounded emotions cannot be healed, without forgiving. And secondly, take a look at yourself. You know, we should not have an attitude of, "Well, I would never do that," you know? We do that, we look, "Well, man, I would never do that". Well, you might not only do that, but you might do something worse, 'cause you don't know what that person's going through. And so, don't leave church because you got hurt. Only go if God tells you to go. You know, I got hurt one time, at a church, and I wanted to leave, and the Lord definitely put it on my heart, "You don't leave until I tell you to leave". And he didn't let me leave until I was no longer angry at anybody. Because if you take it out the door with you, you'll take it into the next place that you go. And I don't use that as an excuse, "Well, I'm not gonna church anymore, I got hurt," or, "I'm not gonna go to church anymore because they're all hypocrites". All you need to be concerned about is you. You can't fix everybody else, but you can work with the Holy Spirit to be the best you that you can be.
Ginger: Great encouragement. Thank you very much.
Joyce Meyer: You're welcome.