A favorite allegory of mine is Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It centers on a character named Much Afraid and her harrowing journey to the High Places of God where healing is promised by her Shepherd. After much trial and suffering, Much Afraid tries to climbs up an impossible precipice. During a brief respite, she spies a lone flower bursting through the craggy surface where no vegetation had been before. She asks the flower its name.
“My name is Bearing the Cost, but some call me Forgiveness.”
Much Afraid inquires how the flower got to that strange place.
Bearing the Cost replies, “I was separated from all my companions, exiled from home, carried here and imprisoned in this rock. It was not my choice, but the work of others who, when they had dropped me here, went away and left me to bear the results of what they had done.”
Can you relate?
Has someone’s actions flung you into a place you never intended to be? Are you having to bear the cost of someone else’s sin against you?
I wish it weren’t true. I wish we lived in a fair world where friends and family members and spouses acted becomingly all the time. (And that we would act that way as well. It’s not that everyone else is full of sin, but we are innocent. Someone could write this post about me, where my actions and attitudes and words may have flung THEM into a place they’d rather not be).
But I digress.
What are we to do in this desolate place? How can we move on? Is it possible to have joy even when other people’s decisions hurt us?
I believe God gives us a choice. We can choose to flourish where we’re flung. It starts by a simple (but painful) act of forgiveness, and it continues by trusting God for outcomes. We can either give into bitterness, nursing it, justifying it, letting it prevent abundance, or we can take a courageous leap to live differently.
Yes, it hurt. (I’m not saying it didn’t).
Yes, the betrayal happened.
Yes, you’ve been flung.
But it’s equally true that Jesus went through the same things. He was hurt, betrayed and flung. And because He was, He can come alongside you. He empathizes with you, loves you, and wants to help you find victory in the midst of pain. That’s why James tells us to consider it pure joy when trials come (and most trials involve people hurting us). It’s why Jeremiah encouraged the nation of Israel to do this: “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
In your exile, work to bring peace and prosperity wherever you are. Bloom where you’ve been planted, even if the planting is not your choice. (Who wants to be exiled, anyway?)
God promises strength when we are weak (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-10), perspective when we’re sad or despondent, and love when we feel unloved.
You can flourish today. Someone else’s mean choices do not negate your own choices. Rest today in the embrace of Jesus who understands being flung and hurt. If you’re bewildered, ask for His help. He loves to come to the aid of those who truly, deeply NEED Him.
And perhaps that’s the greatest gift of being flung. When we’re in that helpless place, we must rely on Him for strength. We must need Him, not our own solutions or vengeance.
Mind if I pray for you?
(Put your name in the blank…)
Lord Jesus, my friend _________ has been flung into a situation and a place that they’d rather not be. They’re bewildered and frustrated. They sometimes think You have abandoned them. They cannot see their way through the pain. I pray You would show _________ how much You love them, how much You identify with their pain. Give ______________ the gumption to flourish in the place they’d rather not be. Give ___________ the guts to forgive and move on. Help them to see You are at work, even when it doesn’t feel evident. Restore, renew, and rebuild _________’s broken heart today. Amen.
Hinds’ Feet on High Places has been my favorite book for decades, but I had not grasped this insight you just shared. Thank you! I treasure it even more now.
I’m glad it helped!
“Flourish where you’re flung.” I LOVE that line!
Thought I needed this prayer today (and I do), but not as much as my friend Ray whose son committed suicide last week. May God reach out and rescue those in far flung places. Thanks for this post Mary. Sometimes I read them and think ‘this doesn’t apply to me right now’ but I read anyway. Something always applies or inspires or reminds us to pray for a specific person.
Jesus, please, please be with Ray who is grieving right now, and rightfully so. This is a dark work where people make dark choices. Bring light to his heart in Your time, Amen.
Alex was a believer. He & I are the same age and went to high school together. Ray was my art teacher in college. I believe God is caring for both of them right now.
I am a three time left behinder of suicide loss. My heart spaces are with you!
Wow, praying for you and others who fall into the left behind category.
You should write a book using that title. I just read…me.
Thanks for the idea, Mary.
Needed this reminder yet again this morning! Thank you, my friend.
I’m grateful it blessed you, D.