HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
I am going to attempt a discussion and see where it leads. This is a topic that has hit home to each of us some time ago. You do not have to talk to me about it unless you are led to have that discussion. There are many articles that we can research and get the facts generally. So I am going to unfold some of my struggles along with others that I have spoken to about their situation.
Now, what I’d like to talk about are your inner struggles. And I’d like you, on the whiteboard of your mind, to say, under the heading, “I got a raw deal,” and now underneath that I want you to say, “What is it?” What’s the one that pops up to the surface.
And, by the way, knowing that sometimes that’s so painful, instead of dealing with it, instead of facing it, a lot of us repress and are in denial, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t want to think about that. It’s way too painful.” I know that one out of four, according to statistics, one out of four or one out of five women have been sexually abused. That’s a raw deal.
We know that infidelity is rampant in America and catching on in the Caribbean. We know that people lie and cheat in business, school, church and their homes.
Now, I’m going to encourage you, as painful as it is, to let that come to the surface so God can deal with it. Have you got it?. Where do you feel like you’ve gotten a raw deal? Where have you gotten injustice? And then I want to develop four life lessons or four principles to help you walk through how to deal with the raw deal that you appear to have. Okay? Each of us has gotten this raw deal from ministers, politicians, husband and wife likewise.
Well, let’s look at that together.
Principle number one or life lesson number one: If you want to overcome the raw deals in your life, and that’s God’s will, here’s the first thing you need to do – Asaph models it for us – pour out your heart. Face it. Share it. Get it on the table. Tell God about it.
I don’t know about you, this is so encouraging, even godly people struggle with doubts and confusion when God’s truth and their experience don’t mesh. It’s a fallen world! If you haven’t got it yet, life is not fair! Until Jesus comes back, it’s not going to be fair! Do you know what that means? That means bad things happen to good people and the converse, good things happen to bad people.
And when that happens, don’t stuff it, don’t repress it. What’s Asaph show us? Take it to God! It doesn’t mean you’re ungodly. It’s okay to be mad with God. Now, do it reverently. Don’t do it as I did it. I think I was such a young Christian, God kind of winked at how I talked to Him.
You be honest and you share it and you get it out on the table and let the full vent of your emotions say, “God, I am upset! This stinks! This is raw! This is terrible!” And if you never get it there, you will put it down inside and it’ll come out. I guarantee it’ll come out in very unhealthy ways.
What did Job do? I mean, this is Job’s whole life. Job does what’s right: Negative, negative, negative. So he does more of what’s right: Negative, negative, negative. And, you know, the book of Job is Job saying, “Hey, God! What is the deal? I’m up to here with this!” And when God finally reproves Job, does He ever reprove him for being angry and sharing his heart? Answer: No. He only reproves him for his arrogance, of defending himself.
I was as angry with God as I’ve ever been in my life and in response, God could not have manifested Himself in my home in a physical appearance and spoken actual words and spoken more clearly than Psalm 73.
I had a sense, literally, of goosebumps on the back of my neck as I read that passage and as I would go through verse after verse, it was like a youtube tape in my mind was playing of pictures and things that were revealed right out of that passage. God was speaking to me.
What I’m trying to tell you is: Pour out your heart, get it out there, share it. Verses 2 through 14 we have one of the godliest men in all of Israel telling it like it is to God, venting his emotions with at least a significant amount of reverence but he puts it out there. Have you ever done that? Or are you holding it in? You think it’s more “godly” to hold it in.
Now, by the way, don’t go pour it out to everyone else, pour it out to God. Tell Him. Let Him be your counsellor.
A lady last night, neat lady, she came up after the Saturday night service and we gave people some time to respond and to pray and she said, “This was one of the greatest nights of my life.” She had a horrendous, you talk about unjust life, raw deal, a horrendous childhood. And her mother did and said things to her that no human being should ever do to any other human being.
And she’s a mature Christian and she knows what’s right and she knows that it is God’s will to forgive her mother and she has never done it. And last night, after the service, she said, “I did it. I felt like the world is finally off my shoulders, I finally got it, I poured out my heart, and I let it go. And I forgave my mom tonight.” And she was beaming. That’s principle number one if you want to overcome if you want to experience God in the midst of your raw deal.
Principle number two, life lesson number two is:
Consider carefully your choices. When you get angry, when people do you in, I don’t know about you, but injustice… You know, everybody has a button. It’s one of mine. I mean, there are certain things I can endure and say, “Yeah, it’s a fallen world and we’ll work through it.” Injustice just makes me go nuts!
And it makes me go nuts when it happens anywhere but it makes me absolutely crazy when it happens to me! And so I am tempted to do very stupid things when I get a raw deal, to say things, and to act in ways that will really, really be harmful to me and to others. But I learned over the years as a minister in the church to take those things to the Lord in prayer or to seek wise counsel from my elders.
I mean I was ready to quit the whole Christian life because one minister whom I laid hands-on in consecration wanted to walk his own ways and became a liar and very scandalous? I want you to think that one through a little bit. “Yeah, that could ruin your whole life because of a disgruntled man who didn’t want to wait on the Lord, someone you’ve known for a few years, yeah, don’t go there, brother.”
Asaph realized his quitting would do what? Did you notice? Look at verse 15. He said, “If I would have spoken thus I would have betrayed your children.” And I remember that night. I remember I was ministering the following day in church, I had the privilege of consecrating about three of those congregants in ministry to Christ. And as I sat in my home, what I realized, “If I jump out of the Christian faith, if I quit because of this, what do I tell the people that love me dearly and how do I account for this form of behaviour?” Hallelujah, I am still here in the land of the living receiving invitations one after another for future participation in ministry.
And then I thought of the closest friends I’ve ever had, the most vulnerable, open, loving relationships I’ve ever had was with God’s people and if I jump out of the Christian life, I lose all that.
And all of a sudden I realized, “Wait a second.” See, consider your choices carefully. When tempted to throw in the towel, we must weigh the impact it will have on others.
When you get a raw deal, you can react and, brethren, you can burn some bridges and hurt a lot of people.
We, as elders, My God we met and this is one that, I think it has huge implications, and I realized there are lots of people that have gotten a raw deal and this could be very emotional. And so I thought, “You know, I need some, a lot more wisdom than I have.” I sought that advice and understanding and today I am still standing on the solid rock celebrating seven years of successful Internet ministry reaching millions around the world.
There are times,
- when you’ve been abused
- when you’ve been lied to
- when you’ve been cheated
Yet you remained under control, not out of malice – to pursue justice is a very right course to bring about righteousness in the world. Do you get that?
So, the first step is what? Pour out your heart. The second step really thinks it through, carefully, your response.
The third step is: Get the big picture.
Verse 17 says, “When he entered the sanctuary of the Lord,” bang! “then he understood their end.” He worshipped. He got an eternal perspective.
When we see life through an eternal perspective we then begin to realize what’s important and what’s not. That happens when you meet with God. See, Asaph’s whole world turned around, my whole world turned around because I went back to my room and I opened my Bible and I said, “God, speak to me! Speak to me! I’m mad, I’m hurt, it’s not fair. Speak to me!” And He did. And He’ll speak to you. Oh, brethren it was not an easy task going before God with your heart hurting and do not know how to start a conversation with god.
Verse 17, he enters the sanctuary. Notice then he gets eternal perspective. In verses 18 to 20 he says, “You know, in the final analysis, the wicked don’t prosper.” And then verse 21 he says, verse 22 he says, “Wait a second. I was thinking irrationally. I was depressed. I was into self-pity.” Hallelujah, there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but God can deliver him.
And then he looks back and he gets the big picture, he says, “Wait a second. Big picture, who have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I don’t desire anything else. You are my strength, You’re my portion, You have been faithful, You are my only real source of joy, You’re the only one I could ever count on. You are eternal, You are good, and You are sovereign.” Do you get it?
Now here’s the question: How do you get that? How can you get an eternal perspective? How do you get the big picture instead of getting your emotional radar locked into, “That person, that’s what they did! Here are the consequences. I’m not dealing with this in a negative way. I don’t have a problem. I’m not angry about this. I’ve dealt with it.” And all the rest of us are saying, “You know, have you thought of a good counsellor?” “I don’t need any counselling! This isn’t a problem!” Been there and done that, huh?
Let me give you three ways to get God’s perspective.
Number one, focus on God’s character. Read through the Psalms, read or pray through the Ten Commandments and ask, “What attribute of God does each commandment reflect?” His justice, His goodness, His holiness? But the three attributes you have to focus on:
- God is good,
- God is sovereign,
- God is faithful.
What you’re experiencing did not catch God off guard. “Oh, my brethren! Look what happened to the poor, little minister! Did anybody know this was going to happen?”
“Oh, my brethren! He left the ministry and you know the whole story!” I mean, God didn’t get surprised. He is sovereign. He is in control. That means not only does He know about it, but He will turn it around and use it for good if you don’t bail out of His plan. He is good. He has your best interest in mind.
People can try and do negative things to you, they can try and hurt you, He is bigger than they are, He is more powerful than they are.
And He is faithful. Every promise He has made to you, He is going to come through. In your timing? Probably not.
And in the process, as you struggle with it, it’ll probably make you a lot more like Christ, which is the big plan anyway.
So number one, focus on the attributes of God.
Number two, get into the Bible. Scripture will give you perspective. In fact, that’s why I believe Joseph, I’m reading through the Old Testament right now, Joseph is the perfect example, isn’t he? I mean, here’s a righteous, young man and he does good, he gets bad; he does good, he gets worse; he does more good, he does get more and worse.
Open Genesis 37 and read it to chapter 50 and here’s a guy who does what’s right and so they sold him into slavery. Here’s a guy that, when he’s a slave, he does everything right so he rises to the head of Potiphar’s household and Potiphar’s wife says, “Hey, man, I want to sleep with you.” And he’s righteous and runs away, and she lies and he ends up in prison. How so many ministers have fallen for the lustful desires of the flesh and many have lied on others to cover u their sins. Look closely and see the end results.
But we see Joseph in prison, he does what’s right, and two people forget him. Why? Because God had a bigger plan. For twelve to fourteen years, Joseph does right, Joseph does right, Joseph does right, circumstances go bad, bad, worse, really bad. But there’s a little phrase when you read through that.
Every time something bad happens, this little phrase is after Joseph: “And the Lord was with Joseph.” And the Lord is with you. Maybe we should change our name to Joseph and so read our life into his story. Then we will see the reason for our living.
And when you focus on Scripture, you get perspective. So, by the end of his life, Joseph can see it through the eternal lens, he’s got the big picture. And his brothers are shaking in their boots and they’re thinking, “Oh, Dad’s died, now Joseph is going to take revenge.”
And I can see Joseph crossing his arms, in fact, it says, “He weeps.” And he turns to his brothers and says, “Guys, you still don’t get it, do you? You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive.” A la, “You guys did it for the wrong motives, the wrong reason,” but God had a plan and He was going to take the whole nation of Israel and put them in the incubator of Egypt, in this lush land, to multiply, to fulfil His promises, and He allowed this evil to happen to Joseph to fulfil that.
God has a Joseph plan for you. Don’t bailout. Do you want the big picture? Focus on God’s attributes, number one; two, focus on Scripture; and three, get around God’s people. You pour out your heart to God, one of the reasons I shared with the elders, and the biggest areas I’ve struggled with injustice. It has been my small group or the elders that I’ve been able to bounce that off of and get their perspective. I can say it here and I bless the Lord for our Baba (Bishop) Manswell and Queen Abbess Julia. They helped me soar like an eagle again Hallelujah.
And as they talked, it was really interesting, they’ve got all their ups and downs as we do, but they’ve been around a while. That’s why we call them “elders.” The word means “older.” And they talked about some of the biggest hits they’ve taken but now, in the rearview mirror, is, “You know what? God has just used that. God has just used that. God has just used that.” It was their experiences that they used to help get me through this situation and today standing on the solid rock. Amen
So, you’re struggling with a raw deal, and you want God to really help you. One, pour out your heart. Two, consider carefully the choices you make. It’s dangerous ground. Three, get the big picture. Get an eternal perspective. And four, reaffirm your relationship with God.
Ultimately, God’s presence, Him, that’s why the series, Experiencing God. Ultimately, the final analysis, God’s presence is your only sure source of security and joy both now and forever. See, the fact of the matter is I live with the reality and you live with the reality, I’m glad I have great support. We have plenty of ups and downs and I’ve shared more than I probably should.
We may not be many but we are united and filled with love. I love having them to be a part of this church. There are a lot of good things in my life but none of them has the power to be consistent day in, day out and come through for me. And the moment I begin to trust in them, they become an idol.
And what he’s saying here is, reaffirm your relationship with God. Turn the raw deal over to God. Verse 27, realize that people who have done wicked, evil things, verse 27, God’s big, justice will happen, they’ll get their due. “But as for me…” let the nearness of God be your good.
Make cultivating a relationship with Him your good. Make a choice. He said, “I have made the Lord God my refuge.” Make a choice today before you leave to take the raw deal, give it to God, and then say, “God, I want you to work it for good, I’ll stay in the game plan, and I want to walk with You.”
And the day will come when you will tell of His deeds, when you will say, “This terrible thing happened in my life and lo and behold, what a marvellous thing God did through it.”
Let us give God some praise for His word and this ministry. Without Him, we are lost and there is no coming back, so before we ponder on the raw deal, let us turn it over to Him and watch him work out a plan for you.