How many people out there can say they’ve been on the receiving end of someone else’s sin—whether it be real racism (not the media-induced kind), slander or violence, etc etc? Unfortunately we all have while being guilty of sinning against other people in our lives as well. So how’s a Christian to respond biblically when this happens? If it looks like the world, you may need a heart check which we all do from time to time.
Here’s a good starting point: A THOUSAND times yes to this … “Jesus never told us to harbor resentment and stew in the emotions of how we’ve been wronged. In fact, he told us to do the exact opposite. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors is not about fixating on who has harmed us,” (https://sovereignnations.com/2020/06/15/evangelical-pastors-pander-radical-black-lives-matter/?fbclid=IwAR0j7GwsvdyVweqRfkSGfbUAKQgJHO0bnuaJxqQAiTrXgk4kNZ6SsOyTK6A).
In this day and age where everyone wants to be intersectional and see who can portray themselves as THE “victim of all victims”, here’s my story and why this is unbiblical to embrace—especially for Christians.
When I was 11 or 12 years old I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. This plays out differently in different individuals, but it makes me move my body and make sounds (mostly clearing my throat and breathing funny) in ways I can’t control. Think of it like when you’re trying to hold back a sneeze and the sensation gets worse until you actually sneeze, in regards to how it feels to not be able to control some parts of your body and having to “release” whatever your tic is in a sense. That’s the best way I know how to describe it.
Point is, I’ve dealt with this issue and all the discrimination that goes along with it from society since I was say 12 years old. I’m now 35, so that’s 23 years. It’s been a long, challenging road in this with many pleadings to the Lord for healing, and as I matured in Christ, prayers for perseverance for his glory for however long he desires me to have this condition on my body.
I ended up on a medication called Clonidine, that’s actually for people with high blood pressure, but I guess the concept was it would help to relax me and reduce my tics. There’s no cure for Tourette’s, so the best a neurologist can help you do is manage your symptoms. That stuff made me super tired, so for the greater part of 23 years I walked around way below my body’s capacity for normal energy levels. In school I sometimes fell asleep in class due to it, but by God’s grace I managed to do exceptionally well and maintain a high GPA. I once had a teacher make me take a test in a closet in the back of the classroom, so I would stop “disturbing” the other students with my noises—man that would so not fly today. From grade school to high school—roughly eight years—I had the bully of all bullies give me grief about it and mock my tics to my face to make others laugh. He got away with it, teachers didn’t really know what to do.
In my adult life, I’ve had to endure dirty looks from making noise in quiet places like church or the movies etc. I’m a mom now, but before when I was in the workplace for 15 years, I mostly had jobs dealing with the public and a few office jobs. In almost every public job I had, customers would complain to my supervisors about my noises and actions. My supervisors knew I had Tourette’s, and once explained to said customers, they would respond by saying I should be put to work “in the back” out of sight of the public. In one office job in particular, there was a group of mean girls (they were mean to everyone, even each other) who complained to my boss about my tics, claiming they couldn’t concentrate on their work. To which my supervisor told them to sort off, lol. Recently, one guy accused me of having Covid-19 and told me I should not be in public, even though I had a mask on and explained why I was coughing/clearing my throat.
Now as a mom for just over a year, I worry if my daughter will have Tourette’s as well and have to go through a lifetime of everything I’ve been through with this condition. I worry, but I have hope. Because you see I’m a Christian by God’s grace (Eph. 2), and my hope is not in this world or changing circumstances (Heb. 11), but in God the Father undeservedly adopting me as his daughter (2 Cor. 6), in Jesus Christ dying unjustly on a cross for my sins (Rom. 5), and in the Holy Spirit who initially convicted me of my sin, gave me a heart of flesh and continues to sanctify and grow me in holiness (Rom. 8).
That’s not to say that I haven’t been affected or hurt emotionally by all the taunting and discrimination I’ve faced throughout the majority of my life. I’ve had many a heartfelt pleading with God, as Paul did, to take away this thorn in my flesh. But like Paul, and Jesus, so I wasn’t destroyed by this unchanging circumstance in my life, God taught me to say, “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Cor. 12:10) and “‘Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done,’” (Lk. 22:42).
It took a good many years to get to that point, and I do falter, but God got me there. I can’t even begin to count how many well-meaning Charismatic types have come to me claiming they can heal me or at least wanted to pray for my healing. I used to get angry about it, because it was so frequent and annoying, but then I realized it could be an opportunity to teach them about the Christian life. Instead of being bitter and angry about it, I embraced the moment and said, “Sure, but please also pray that if it’s not God’s will to heal me right now, that he will give me the strength to persevere.” That always took them by surprise, and if I had time to chat with them afterwards, I usually shared about Paul’s thorn in the flesh and the attitude he took about it.
I thank God for teaching me early on as a Christian, that instead of stewing and taking a “woe is me/the world owes me everything” approach, and remaining a bitter shrew in victimhood, I could turn any ugly opportunity into a ministry one. As much as I love sharing the gospel with words, this is a unique opportunity God gave to me to mature me and learn to love my enemies (Matt. 5). If someone’s coming at ya in a mean spirit for something you can’t control, that’s pretty much an enemy in my book. But I encourage you that if you decide to test God’s word to see if it really works you will not be disappointed.
Love your enemies, share the gospel with everyone, and hope in your God, because he is the only real and lasting solution to any and every sin committed on this earth.
God changed my heart and saved me by his grace alone in high school, while I was continuing to deal with the bully from grade school. For the most part, I just tried to ignore him and not respond, but one day while I was walking in the school parking lot, he started mocking my tics in front of all his friends. He was elevated on the back of a truck so anyone around could see it too. In that moment, the bless your enemy section in Matthew 5 came to mind. I thought, “You know what? Why don’t I try responding with kindness?” So I responded by waving to him and saying, “Hey, what’s up?” as I walked by. He instantly stopped and was taken aback, as he didn’t know how to respond. Major silent victory on my part. From that moment on, I started engaging with him and being as nice as I could to him, no matter how mean he got. I believe I saw him at graduation, shook his hand, and told him something to the effect of, that I forgave him for all his years of tormenting me, and that I hope one day he could know Christ as I did.
That was my last interaction with him, and 10 years later, I found a hidden message from him in my Facebook messages. This is the “black hole” folder where messages go from people who are not your friends on FB, so I never check it anyway. But I did end up seeing his message. My class was trying to get a reunion together, but much like the elementary reunion, it didn’t happen. This class was particularly rebellious and mean-spirited to one another, so I wasn’t surprised that even as adults they couldn’t get it together. Yet in his message, he apologized for all the years he bullied me, asked for my forgiveness, and I may be stretching a bit here, but it sounded as if he had become a Christian—though I have no way of verifying this. So I wrote him back and thanked him, and told him of course he was forgiven, and he was welcome to friend me on FB if he wanted to—he didn’t lol.
In my work years, in-between the mean customers I had concerned moms ask me about my tics, because they had noticed similar symptoms in their kids and didn’t know what it was, or sadly their kid was wrongly diagnosed with ADHD. I was very grateful that he always gave me supervisors that had my back when it came to my Tourette’s. Some of them asked me how I endured it, and a particular one was so angry at what the customer had said about me, she asked me how I wasn’t fuming all the time about it. I was able to respond by explaining how Christ had died for my sins and no matter how mean someone was to me, it would never be as horrible as what my sin did to Christ on that cross. Granted Jesus wasn’t a victim on the cross, but you know what I mean.
Speaking of Christ being a victim, if there’s anyone who’s kingpin victim of downright dirty, scoundrel, evil people, it’s him. No matter how much injustice, discrimination and abuse anyone has gone through, Christ endured more than any man before or after him ever will. This is not to dismiss those horrible things that do happen to people or that there shouldn’t be consequences when applicable, but in the grand perspective Christ IS kingpin victim, so we especially as Christians should be looking to his example of how he dealt with this stuff against him.
Think about it. Jesus who is fully God and fully innocent man (Jn. 14), endured one of the cruelest forms of death humans could come up with, kudos to the Romans for that, crucifixion. So he, being innocent, coming down to his creation to love and rescue mankind from the penalty of their sins (Mk. 2), with the purest motives and heart that no man could ever have, because we’re all tainted with sin (Rom. 3)—he allowed his creation to physically abuse, degrade and mock him, then murder him cruelly (Jn. 19), so he could pay for their crimes with his innocent blood, and satisfy the Father’s rightful wrath against them (Jn. 19).
Though Jesus did wisely respond to and call out his enemies numerous times during his lifetime on earth, when he was on that cross, he didn’t say anything that the scriptures record at least. Isaiah 53 says he was led silent as a sheep to his slaughter, he was despised and rejected. He didn’t protest or make a social media post (whatever the equivalent was in that day lol) about how hard his life was, and that everyone should feel sorry for him and fight for his cause. He was silent. Even when people said, “‘… save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross,’” (Mat. 27:40). Even when they spit on him and beat him and cast lots for his clothes, not a word. Not a word until he cried, “‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’” (Luk. 23:34), and “‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’” (Lk. 23:46). Jesus gave up his spirit, defeating sin and death and making a way for his elect to be restored when that curtain in the temple was torn in two (Lk. 23:45).
Now I’m not saying protesting is wrong, or speaking up about sin issues is wrong etc, but I’ve seen too many Christians reacting like the world with no hope. Hoping in the world’s way of fixing things to solve sinful issues, especially with this whole race thing going on.
But Christian … have you forgotten that your God is sovereign and will one day restore and repay perfect justice for every sin committed by every man (Rev. 20)? Have you forgotten the words of Christ to bless your enemies? Have you forgotten that he gave us a solution 2020 years ago when he died on that cross and resurrected three days later? Have you forgotten that God commands all Christians to share his gospel with words to everyone, especially enemies? Have you forgotten about Paul’s prison ministry every time he was in jail? He didn’t stop preaching the gospel, and sometimes his enemies even got saved (Acts 16).
Christian, if you’ve spent more time on social media lately than in God’s Word (I’m preaching to myself here as well), turn off the social media, and crack open a bible. Read it. Remember it. Obey it. Not with a social justice filter on top of everything, the Bible has a proper context. But do those three things, and then flip your social media back on and see what you start posting. See what your attitude is towards those who you perceive have done injustices to you or others, or whether you are just falling for the media hype and not seeing the truth.
The Bible … Read it. Remember it. Obey it. Love your enemies, share the gospel with everyone, and hope in your God, because he is the only real and lasting solution to any and every sin committed on this earth.
After all this, I know I don’t have to worry if my daughter will end up with Tourette’s and face the same hardships as me. I’m more concerned about praying for her salvation. Because I know if she is God’s daughter, he will protect her, mold her and grow her just as he has with me. Amen? Amen.
*Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
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