On Envy & Bitterness

Proverbs 13:12 wisely says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Oh, how true this is, in so many ways. I think we all know the feeling of wanting something so much—and then having it removed from our grasp, held just inches away from us as we strive and stretch for it with all of our might. As we stare at this Hope we have had, just outside of our reach, our hearts adopt a feeling of deep, deep grief. It threatens to consume us whole; and we seemingly cannot help but nurse the ache within us.

So much of this is unfortunately true for the Chibok girls, and those like them—people who have had their freedom, happiness, and lives as free men ripped away from them.  The Humanitarian Aid Group “Doctors Without Borders” had to leave the area in Rann, Nigeria, because of Boko Haram terrorism, temporarily leaving desperate families in the region without aid.1 It has been two weeks since the Dapchi girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram2; meanwhile, the Chibok girls who have been found/freed are facing extreme stigma and obstacles to reintegrating into society3. These young women represent thousands of other people kidnapped and harmed by Boko Haram: people who are being failed by their own government, and people who are being mercilessly kicked while they are down.

Is there no respite for these people? Is there no Justice, no relief, no refuge for these victims of such brazen crimes?

It’s easy, under these circumstances, to fall into hatred, resentment, and bitterness about the failures of those around these people. Having a hope deferred is something that is not foreign to me. I know full well that, out of having a Hope deferred, resentment and even envy can rise up within my own heart towards those who seem to have the very thing I feel I need—and I would venture to say that this is a common, human problem (at least, I hope it is!).

Though, no matter how common or understandable this phenomenon of resentment & envy may be, it does not take away the truth that it is evil and sinful. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (v. 4). While jealousy and envy are not the same thing, they go hand in hand. Jealousy, wrath, and anger are three very harmful things (Proverbs 27:4). Envy is the result of idolatry in our hearts; it’s for this reason that God forbids us to “covet” in the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17).

What’s more, we believe that if we hang on to resentment, we are holding whatever/whomever has caused us pain hostage until “they pay up.” This is a lie that only keeps us in a place of bitter pain—and causes much more bitter pain for others. “Hurt people hurt people,” as the old adage says.

How to Overcome It

We all get it. Jealousy and envy are bad, and incredibly damaging to our souls, lives, relationships, and most importantly, our relationship with God. But, as Proverbs 27 expresses, it can seem unescapable and consuming. How can one fully honor and obey Christ, even when everything within them screams no?!

Truthfully, the lie of envy and resentment usually (if not always) says, “God is not good,” and, at times concerning envy, “He is holding out on me.” These two lies are the source of all anger, resentment, and envy. But, when we come and surrender to Christ, He is the One who changes our desires where necessary, and helps us through.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)

I admit that I just said about Christ helping us through sounds very trite. Yet, it is nonetheless true. When we feel alone, it is Christ who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6) [source]. When we feel we are in lack of something, it is in turning to Jesus that we are reminded, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1, NIV).

When we come to Christ with our resentment– with how we honestly feel that He is holding out on us– Jesus breaks down this lie– and free us from the resentment, anger, and disappointment we may poignantly feel. It is Jesus’ Will not that we stay locked up in a bitter, envious, angry darkness that “rots the bones,” as Proverbs 14:30 says; but that we come to the Light, to Him for healing. It is there that we will receive His counsel, His rebuke where necessary, and His comforting strength that points to our idolatry and heals the deeper, harmful lie we have been holding on to in our heart of hearts. It is this place that Jesus wants to heal and bring restoration to—even if the only way for it to ever come up is to recognize our intense bitterness.

It’s true. This world is full of evil; and, as such, hurt and broken people can become very bitter and resentful toward whatever has caused them their pain, even becoming bitter toward life itself.

The people, especially the women, of Northern Nigeria, have a lot to resent and become bitter over. They have seemingly been left alone, unaided, shamed and stigmatized for something that was never their fault to begin with.

But we all know that nursing bitterness and envy only creates a vicious cycle of violence and decay, in every sense of the word. So, may these women, in their desperation and pain, come to Jesus for healing only He can provide. May we all.



Do you know Jesus?

God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

Do you want God to be with you—to never leave or forsake you? It’s true that God is omnipotent; and therefore, He is always with us. But it is a different matter to know Jesus personally—and to know that He will never, ever leave you, no matter what.

Learn more about Jesus—this God who wants to have a personal relationship with you, personally—here.


Please pray for (print out a Prayer sheet, here)…

  • The Dapchi girls. Just like the Chibok girls, these 110 young women were kidnapped two weeks ago from Dapchi, Nigeria. Please pray for them to be rescued and freed, soon.
  • The Chibok girls. Please pray for their soon return!
  • For the Chibok girls, and other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, struggling to be reintegrated back into society. Pray that walls would be broken, and that Jesus would bring these young women to Himself, and that they would experience liberation.
  • That “Doctors without Borders” would be able to return to Northern Nigeria, especially Rann, to continue to give humanitarian aid to those who are desperate.
  • That those who resent others in their lives would find freedom in forgiveness, as they bring it to Christ.
  • Reflect: Where are you harboring envy, jealousy, or resentment? Submit to Jesus and ask Him to heal those parts of your life, today.

Thank you for your prayers

1 https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/03/590550649/aid-group-pulls-out-of-nigerian-town-following-deadly-suspected-boko-haram-attac

2 https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/photos-dapchi-escapees/

3 https://qz.com/1220746/boko-harams-kidnapped-girls-turn-accused-on-returning-home-in-nigeria/

 

Advertisements

Fighters for Freedom

Nigeria has been hurting, as of late. On Wednesday, January 25th, Boko Haram militants overtook a military camp in the program “Operation Lafiya Dole,” the counter-insurgency effort created by the Nigerian army. Three soldiers were killed, while arms and ammunition were stolen.

As all of this took place, a new interview came out, from Thomson Reuters, interviewing the mother of a Boko Haram soldier. The interview was both insightful and heartbreaking, as the mother of this Boko Haram member shared her story. The woman, named Falta, is the mother of a BH member named Mamman Nur. As the mastermind of the U.N. Headquarters bombing in Abuja, which took place in 2011, Mamman is reportedly responsible for the death of at least 23 people.

In the interview, Falta, who calls herself “an old woman,” reports that she was forced to live in the Sambisa Forest with Mamman, his three wives, and his children, claiming that she had no one else to take care of her (source). She also stated that while she continually  “tried to talk her son out of joining Boko Haram,” he became more and more involved (source). Taken back out of the enclave by the Nigerian military after a 2015 raid of the Sambisa Forest, Falta is still reportedly in a government safe house, not having any other caretaker.

This interview is difficult to read, because it sheds light on the fact that these murderous, cowardly, evil militants have families who love and care for them. But that is not the only reason. Falta’s remarks describing her stay in the Sambisa Forest, a place known for its Boko Haram hideout– and therefore, it’s symbolic darkness and oppression– were disturbing. In the interview, Falta said that “life in Sambisa was quite comfortable” (source). Complete with their own house, in which Falta had her own room, the enclave also had its own supply vans to deliver food and clothing to those within it, as well as its own doctor, nurses and hospital “to tend to the ill” (source). Surrounded by her grandchildren, Falta described a life that seemed to be pretty luxurious for living in a terrorist camp.

For all of its comfort, the fact that it is still an evil place is what makes her entire testimony disturbing. And yet, this apparent dark oasis in Northeastern Nigeria is not only captivating in that many of its captives have actual physical bondage on; but in that, over time, many captives who stay there run the risk of getting comfortable, and making it their “new normal.” This can be seen in the case of over 100 Chibok schoolgirls, whom reportedly “do not want to go back” (source). If this horrific report is true, these Chibok school girls have been both psychologically and spiritually brainwashed into staying captive to their “husbands.”

In reality, while many are not bound by physical chains or physical, evil people, they lie spiritually imprisoned. The worst part of all? They do not see their chains for the horrendous evil that they are. Heartbreakingly, people stay enslaved all of their lives: to lies, to addictions, and ultimately, to the bondage of sin and death.
Even the Apostle Paul spoke about this carnal trap in Romans 7.

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” 

(Genesis 7:22-24, NLT)

In probably one of the most relatable, down to earth passages of Scripture, the Apostle Paul becomes honest about his struggle with sin. But while so much of the world likes their bondage, He, knowing the true freedom found in Christ, sees and knows the sin in his life for what it is: slavery (Romans 7:23).


But, for the Believer, there is incredible Hope. While the believer still struggles with sin, they are completely set free from the old law, and from the eternal condemnation humanity’s sin creates.
Meanwhile, the world, because it is blinded to the Gospel of Christ, has no choice but to continue on living within their chains (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin, and it’s bondage-creating nature; but not until they choose to know and accept Christ are their eyes opened. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:16, NLT).

Isaiah 62 Prayer Ministry wrote in this article about how Jesus, through the Gospel, literally frees people spiritually. The chains of the Believer are gone; they have been set free (Romans 6:18), and are now able to know God, and obey His commands– not because they have to, but out of a genuine heart of praise.

There are many who have even this freedom in Christ, spiritually– the freedom to be victorious over the sin in their lives, by obeying and submitting to Him– and yet, they use their freedom to find new chains to wear: pleasing people instead of Christ, and spending their lives living in the same prison cells of sin, addiction, anger, unforgiveness, and lust. There are those on the other hand, who also wear new chains– chains of unbelief when it comes to Grace; legalism; and self-condemnation. Many people deal with both types of bondage. Both of these “groups” of people have the chance to leave this bondage, but either won’t, out of rebellion and pride– or don’t even understand how bound they really are.
This is not what Christ wants for anyone, and that definitely includes Believers. Instead, Christ calls His Children to be “Freedom Fighters,” men, women, and children who walk in the glorious freedom from both sin and legalism. Christ desires His Followers to walk in the Light (1 John 1:7). This cannot be done if Christ Followers refuse to step into the Light of Christ, either because of sin, or dead religion.

Like William Wilberforce, the famed abilitionist from the 1700-1800s, Believers must become painfully aware of bondage and oppression; but, to do this, they first must see their own chains, and let Christ set them free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)

There are hundreds of captives in the Sambisa Forest, who have gotten comfortable, or scared, and do not want to live outside– even if it means they never see their loved ones, or breathe the air of freedom, ever again. Just like so many in the Sambisa Forest, many do not see their need for freedom– or are simply afraid to give Christ, the One who will free them, control. 

But, it is for freedom that Christ has set Believers free. So, whether it would be fighting Boko Haram, or fighting any other type of spiritual bondage, may Believers give Christ the control– and let Him make them more and more into the Fighters for Freedom He has called them to be. 🔹 


Do you know Jesus?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
(Romans 8:1, NIV) 

Dead religion– the rituals, rules, and the mentality that one must “earn their way to heaven” by doing “good deeds” is a sad, broken way of life.

In the Old Testament, every rule, and every ritual, pointed to The Messiah– they were shadows of the real thing, to put it one way (Colossians 2:17).

How silly would it be, if a person kept loving someone’s shadow when the actual person is standing in front of them? Yet, this is how many treat Jesus.

The Truth is, those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are not under the “law of Sin and Death ” anymore… They are under the law of the Spirit, completely free from condemnation to have a personal relationship with the God who gave it all to have them (Romans 8:1-2; Romans 5:8).

The time is up for shadows. Meet the “real thing,” the God who sets us free, here.


Please pray with me… 

“Dear Father God, 

Thank You for the Nigerian military, and all that You have done through them to defeat Boko Haram. We know it is not without sacrifice. Please hold the family members of the soldiers killed in the line of duty. 

Father God,

Thank You for showing us all what is happening in Northern Nigeria, and how there are many people who, for some reason or another, are wanting to stay in captivity. 

Father God, 

We pray, in the Mighty Name of Jesus, that You would open the eyes of the blind and unbelieving, who are staying imprisoned without even knowing about it. Please open their eyes to their condition, and bring them to know You. 

Father God, 

We pray for the Believers in these camps, who also do not want to leave. In the Name of Jesus, please open their eyes to the freedom that awaits them. Please open up the way for them, so that they can become free, soon, too. 

Father God, 

We pray in general for those Believers who may be physically free, but are still in some sort of bondage. Show us all where You want to free us; and may we submit to You, and Your will in our lives. 

Please free the captives, and continue to lead us to You. 

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Thank you for your continued prayers!