Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 49 – 50 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Read the “0827 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
This article was originally published in the Gospel Light Baptist Church Newsletter (08/19/2023).
For this story, we will refer to the young man as Paul. And at this point in his high school years, he is deeply in love with a girl we will call Linda. To everybody who could see from the outside, they made a perfect couple. He was a good-looking young man with a great sense of humor, a slim, muscular physique, and instead of attending a regular high school, he opted to enroll in a technical school. This decision allowed him to receive an education and gain a trade that he could utilize after graduation. She was a pretty girl with brown hair parted in the middle, feathered in the style of the day, and pretty, blue eyes. This much I can say is true–that Paul loved her with all his heart. His brothers knew how he felt about her, and they were glad that he was happy and maybe even a little jealous.
Everyone has a best friend, and his closest friend, whom we will call Tom, was always there to support him, or so it seemed. Tom was a good-looking young man. You might even say he was Hollywood handsome. Tom always seemed to attract a crowd of girls wherever he went. By now, you might guess where this is going, and yes, Tom and Linda began to have a fling behind Paul’s back. One day, Paul’s youngest brother walked in on Linda and Tom as they were embraced in each other’s arms in the clubhouse in the backyard of Paul’s home. Sadly, his youngest brother was too young to understand what was taking place, and maybe that’s a good thing. Knowing his younger brother as I do and his anger issues at the time, if he were older, there would be bloodshed. Eventually, the ugly truth was revealed. To say Paul was hurt would be an understatement; he was devastated. He lost the first girl he truly loved and lost his best friend. This is not the first time this has occurred to someone in history, and it wouldn’t be the last. Five years later, it happened to two friends of mine. I told the one he shouldn’t do that behind his friend’s back. He didn’t listen, and it got ugly. By the way, God gave Ten Commandments, and #9 is not to covet thy neighbor’s wife. The whole idea is not to covet what belongs to someone else.
Back to Paul. Losing the one you love, or a best friend is often difficult, but losing both in this manner can be a challenging hurdle to overcome. It would take Paul a long time to restore his emotions. To complicate matters, his father was of no support. His dad was the type of man who would constantly criticize and put you down. Paul’s confidence was shattered on every level, as infidelity often destroys a person’s self-worth and self-value. If nobody is there trying to help you put the pieces back together, the healing process will be very long.
Fast forward 30 years, Paul and I talked, and he told me how he had come across Linda one day. He said they had a pleasant conversation. I stood there listening as he spoke. He said, “Well, I’m finally over her”. Puzzled and with a halfway smile, I asked why. He said, “Well, I’ve met her many times since we broke up, and this is the first time my heart didn’t hurt.” That first cut goes deep and often takes a long time to heal.
Many people have suffered heartache from others. Infidelity, divorce, and constantly being put down or ignored affect an individual’s self-worth. The sad reality is that when one suffers this type of pain, it usually leads to a misstep that causes another heartache.
The question often asked is how you overcome painful hurts and bad episodes in your life. The answer is, dealing with our pain with scripture. The above story with Paul. Linda and Tom have been played out untold times in the course of history. Books, poems, songs, and movies have told its ugly story. When I think of it from time to time, I am reminded that everyone involved lost something and nobody gained a thing. The fling between Tom and Linda did not last long. Remember for everything you win there is something lost.
Any counseling that does not involve God and His Word is useless. Dealing with emotional pain and mental anguish with medication will never bring healing, never.
I have several historical events in the gospels that I love and never grow tired of reading and studying.
The first is the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). The second we will discuss next week.
The woman at the well presents us with a worst-case scenario—a very immoral individual. In the story of the demoniac, we have another worst-case scenario, it’s bad on every level, with Peter denying the Lord another worst-case scenario and Saul of Tarsus the same thing. God tells us these stories to remind us he is in the saving business. The next time you think you are too rotten for help, remember your bible.
In our story above, it would be effortless to say that if Paul had been in church and serving the Lord, he would not have had this heartache and emotional damage. That’s a cheap answer, and when we study the life of our Saviour, it’s something He never said to anybody.
Imagine Him meeting with the woman at the well, and He said something like this: “You know, if you had just followed what I said in the Bible, you wouldn’t have those five loser husbands, and you wouldn’t be shacking up with this individual right now!” The conversation would have gone nowhere, and there would have been no conversion and no city coming to faith. Telling someone they should not have done it after the heartache is idiotic. So, how did the Master deal with this woman?
First, He treated her like a human. The day’s culture was to think of her as inferior because of her gender; She was also of mixed race, which was another strike. She had five failed marriages and no doubt lived in an immoral way between marriages. Christ came to her knowing all this, yet He still talked with her and was there to help her.
Second, He brought up her relationships, but He didn’t dwell on them and beat her up. The point of it was to expose her need and to reveal Himself. If you miss that last one, you miss the whole story.
Third, the conversation turns spiritual from here, and the Master tells her He is the Messiah. This, of course, leads to her salvation.
Human nature never changes; how people feel now is how they felt 2000 years ago. This dear lady was lonely and hurt by all the wrong choices and pain others inflicted upon her. There is no doubt that she had been hurt by someone in her life, and she, in turn, probably hurt others. There is something inherent in our sinful nature that when we are emotionally damaged by someone, we seek to hurt them back. In the case of adultery, too often, the victim will go out and commit the same sin to get back at the one they love. Sadly, too often, people will afflict themselves and often blame themselves for why the one they love did what they did.
Nowhere in this does the Saviour tell her, you need to move on, you need to go forward, you have great worth, you are awesome. He does something better. He saves her soul, and that will lead to a changed life. She did have worth, and it was in her changed life. She had to choose where she wanted to live: in the past, where all her defeats and pains were, or to walk in the newness of life and the value Christ had placed upon her; thus, she could look at herself in her mirror or see herself through the lens of scripture, where she is a justified, blood-bought child of God.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
I do not doubt that this lady told her live-in boyfriend about Christ, and if he did not believe, he was looking for a new place to stay that night.
The Apostle Paul, who was once Saul of Tarsus, the killer of Christians, wrote through the Holy Spirit this way:
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Philippians 3:12-15)
Posted in Devotions by Matt Swiatkowski with 2 comments.