At times in my life, I have found myself angry or bitter, but seemingly unable to figure out how to “not be angry.” It just doesn’t seem to be as easy as that. However, at the conclusion of my reading of Jonathan Edwards’ message, “Charity Disposes Us Meekly to Bear the Injuries Received from Others,” I found that I was no longer angry about a situation with a doctor, and I was glad.
Edwards’ first three points to consider were: my love for God disposes me to want to be like Him, to express my gratitude to Him, and to humbly recognize my lack of purity in comparison to Him. His final two points are ones that I have been learning in the school of physical trials, points that should have come more readily to the forefront of my thoughts in this situation as well. Obviously, I am not yet perfected; I’m thankful for opportunities to continue to learn and resources that guide me.
Edwards’ fourth point is: “love to God disposes men to have regard to the hand of God in the injuries they suffer.”
All block quotes are from “Charity Disposes Us Meekly to Bear the Injuries Received from Others”
Love to God disposes men to see [H]is hand in everything; to own [H]im as the governor of the world, and the director of providence; and to acknowledge [H]is disposal in everything that takes place. And the fact that the hand of God is a great deal more concerned in all that happens to us than the treatment of men is, should lead us in a great measure, not to think of things as from men, but to have respect to them chiefly as from God as ordered by [H]is love and wisdom, even when their immediate source may be the malice or heedlessness of a fellow-man. And if we indeed consider and feel that they are from the hand of God, then we shall be disposed meekly to receive and quietly to submit to them, and to own that the greatest injuries received from men are justly and even kindly ordered of God, and so be far from any ruffle or tumult of mind on account of them.
It was with this view that David so meekly and quietly bore the curses of Shimei, when he came forth, and cursed and cast stones at him (2 Sam. 16:5, 10), saying that the Lord had bid him do it, and therefore forbidding his followers to avenge it.
I also think of the godly response of Joseph after he had suffered mistreatment at the hands of his brothers. He recognized that although his brothers meant evil against him “…God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20). In fact, “…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I have frequently reflected on this verse during my physical suffering, but now I had the opportunity to expand my understanding and apply it to a situation requiring loving patience with another person.
As God continues to sanctify me, He helps me realize that nothing can really harm me since I am now His adopted daughter. I am saved, and this is my protection whether I am alive on earth or in heaven. This is Edwards’ final point: “love to God sets us above the injuries of men.”
In the first place, it sets above the reach of injuries from others, because nothing can ever really hurt those that are the true friends of God. Their life is hid with Christ in God; and [H]e, as their protector and friend, will carry them on high as on the wings of eagles; and all things shall work together for their good (Rom. 8:28); and none shall be permitted really to harm them, while they are followers of that which is good (1 Pet. 3:13).
And then in the next place, as love to God prevails, it tends to set persons above human injuries, in this sense, that the more they love God, the more they will place all their happiness in [H]im. They will look to God as their all, and seek their happiness and portion in his favour, and that not in the allotments of [H]is providence alone; the more they love God, the less they set their hearts on their worldly interests, which are all that their enemies can touch. Men can injure God’s people only with respect to worldly good. But the more a man loves God the less is his heart set on the things of the world, and the less he feels the injuries that his enemies may inflict, because they cannot reach beyond these things. And so it often is the case, that the friends of God hardly think the injuries they receive from men are worthy of the name of injuries and the calm and quietness of their minds are scarcely disturbed by them.
What Edwards has expressed in this final point is the thought that I will attempt to express in my own way in an upcoming post on being still and knowing that God is God (Psalm 46:10). This, as well as Edwards’ other points on long-suffering, remind me of my love for God and the impact it has on my ability to “meekly bear the injuries received from others.”
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.