Finding Hope in a Darkened World

“The world wants you gone.” This was the closing line of an essay written on Facebook by a brother in Christ, dealing with why Believers often feel cast out of society and judged harshly by our peers for what seems to be no apparent reason.

These words sank into my mind, where they rolled around in and out of my consciousness for weeks. I recalled how I’d complained many times over my life how I was treated differently by people, hated instantly by them even before they ever got to know me. Then I remembered the words of Jesus, who said,
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” – John 15:18-27

As ignorant as I was concerning the purposes of how and why I was made and put here on this earth by God, I did recognize early on in life that there was something different about me. I had no idea what it could possibly be. Something people didn’t like, obviously. I blamed some internal or external flaw in myself as the basis for this unreasonable hate. I blamed my looks and clothing, my social status, my race, and once I found out I had it, blamed Asperger’s Syndrome. As I turned out, I finally figured out that what people are reacting to in me is the Holy Spirit, Who has been with me, watching over me ever since the day I was born.

He watched over me as I stumbled through my angst-filled teenage years and early adulthood, where I dabbled in the occult, experimented with alcohol and illegal substances, as well as in fornication. I was pretty bad. Not as bad as some, but a lot worse than many. Still, God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit were there with me, knowing way before I did that I would one day snap out of it and begin to actively seek the face of God. And I found Him through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. And I learned through the guidance of the blessed Holy Spirit.

My life before this was devoid of any hope. I wallowed in my own misery, always wishing that someone would come along and rescue me out of it. The problem was that I was looking for a person – a human being – who would come and do that. And several people tried, but I dismissed them because I wasn’t ready yet to hear what they had to say. Instead, I preferred to cling to my misery and cherished it, almost falling in love with it, much like Sméagol (Gollum) obsessed over the Ring of Doom. I clung to my depression and hatred of everything and everyone, despite the fact that it was killing me slowly, draining my life away. I was hurt and rejected by the world around me and because I didn’t understand why, I began to build walls around my heart. It had taken too much damage over the years in trusting people whom I thought loved me but didn’t.

Finally, my misery became such a great burden that it began to crush me. I tried to bury it with alcohol and other things, still obsessing over why people hated me. There was never any reason for it, even when I asked. I remember back when I was a teenager, one kid I had a crush on told a friend that he wouldn’t be seen with me. I asked him point-blank, “Why?” He looked at me, shrugged sheepishly and said it like he was answering a rhetorical question, “Because you’re a dog?” What got to me wasn’t the word he chose – back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, that’s how kids were. they were thoughtless and cruel if they found someone unattractive to them. What set me back was how he said it, like I was ugly and he was actually surprised that I didn’t already know that. It was like I’d asked him why I couldn’t climb a tree and he’d replied that I couldn’t climb because I was a fish. And that wasn’t the end of this kind of treatment. Not by a long shot.

Asperger’s Syndrome was part of it. My autism is plainly evident to people in the look on my face (always downcast, like I’m either angry or about to cry) and the goofy way I walked and carried myself. When I was in my forties, I found about Asperger’s and knew right away this was what I’d struggled with for many years. I figured that once I understood it, I could explain it to people and they’d understand me, finally.

Wrong.

Once I explained it to people, they treated me even worse. There is a stigma attached to Autism that I wasn’t aware of. Once people found out, I was left out of conversations, ignored and openly avoided. I made the mistake once of telling my employer about it, too, and I was treated differently after that. I resolved to never mention it again unless I was cornered about it and had no choice. But even when I tried to mask it, act as “normal” as I could, people still went out of their way to be rude to me. I had to come to believe that I was an alien on this earth, living in a place I didn’t belong and never would. The world had made it quite plain to me that it didn’t want me or anything to do with me. I didn’t fit in, never would. It wanted me gone. And I’m ashamed to admit that several times, it almost got its wish.

When I finally called out for Jesus Christ, out loud, I discovered that in the ensuing months and years, the treatment had gotten worse. Someone slashed the tires of my car because they felt the need to do so. I hadn’t done anything to them, they just decided I’d won the crap lottery that day and they dished it out to me. But this time, I knew why they did these things. The world hates anything having to do with God in Jesus Christ. They sensed the Holy Spirit with me and they reject Him, so in turn they rejected me, too. It’s something inside them that does this, they can’t help it. Whether it’s demonic or the fact that a person is so wrapped up in the flesh and the world, on the inside, they recognize me right away as a kind of threat.

My daughter is going through this same thing. Like I was, she is now. She can’t understand why people keep treating her unfairly. She drinks way too much, and though people try to tell her it’s a big problem, she clings to her misery, uses it as an excuse to keep drinking and dismiss anyone who tries to help her as being full of hogwash. She asked me once during one of her phone calls to me why I didn’t come down to visit her and help her.  I explained to her that it didn’t matter whether I was there or not. She wouldn’t listen to me. I told her that if she wanted out, she needed to seek the face of God. I pray for her daily. She keeps looking for a man to come along and save her, love her, take care of her, when what she really needs is to learn to depend on God instead of people. People will always let you down, no matter how hard they try not to. No human can stand in the place of God in your life.

So if you find yourself in this kind of position  – hopeless, lost, addicted, barely functioning – you can get out of that mindset. However, it requires you to Trust God, believe in Jesus and the promise of eternal life. It is a journey to get there, especially if you’ve been taught to hate God all of your life by your culture, schools, media and peers. These are the propaganda lies we’ve been told all of our life, things that sounded good on the surface but were never really explained, like “Just be Yourself,” “Take care of Number One (put yourself first),” “Rules were made to be broken,” and “Nurture your inner child.” So millions of us were taught to be narcissists, sociopathic and so self-involved that we can’t pass a mirror or pick up a smart-phone without looking at images of ourselves. We are saturated in sex, we are told that innocence is out of style and we have to be “quirky,” “queer” or “out of the norm.” We never once realized on our own that there were reasons why rules existed, primarily the Golden Rule (treat others as we would have them treat ourselves).

We have to learn to shed all of that, to learn to die to the Self, to stop sacrificing everything and everyone around us on the Altar of the Self. We have become our own idols. Whenever someone tells us it’s anything but that, we get nasty, rude and even violent. We can’t handle the truth. However, God IS the truth. Once we figure that yes, He is really there, we can then overcome all of this conditioning and learn that true happiness comes from serving others in Christ. We don’t put our own desires first, we walk in God’s Will for our lives. Jesus had one commandment above anything, and that is to “love each other.” That’s when you begin to have hope again, when your cold, dead heart comes alive again, filled with love for God and for humanity.
You understand that even though people may hate you, they do so without realizing why. You forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Even true believers have times of depression, those days when God seems to be far from them. Occasionally they find themselves once again caught in the cares of this world through politics, carnality and the desires of the flesh, addiction and so on. But even as broken as we are, as long as we believe and have faith and trust in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we can get up again and keep moving forward. We may stumble, fall down the hill or all the way down the stairs of life, but a true believer knows that God is patient with him, extends him forgiveness and grace, allowing him to get up once more and continue on the path toward God. Like a baby learning how to walk.

Eventually, you begin to find that while you may slip here and there, you don’t fall as often, and the road gets a little easier. Despite the fiery darts from the enemy (temptation to drink, do drugs, revel in the flesh) something stops you and you realize you’ve gotten off the right path. You use the Word of God as a GPS and you find your way back to the right road. Along the way, you try to explain this to others – how your depression finally went away one day and never came back. How you no longer need to drink or smoke weed. How you enjoy life a lot more than you used to, and how you take time to enjoy the company of others when you can. You learn to live for God’s purpose, not your own. When God is guiding your steps, the pressure comes off. This is what ‘freedom’ feels like.

But when you see someone else caught in the same trap you were, how to make them see when you found your way out? You tell them, and let God take care of the rest. Either they will accept the Gospel or they won’t. It’s a choice they make. They may not even make that choice right away and years may pass before they realize that, yeah, you were trying to help them, not condemn them. They finally realize that if they step back, give it all to God, call out loud for His Son, Jesus Christ,  it all begins to make sense to them. Some never get there. They can’t seem to tear that box off of their head and learn to think outside of the programming. God knew this from the beginning.

None of us are perfect and as long as we live this life, we will never be. But we can tune in by way of Jesus to what God wants for us. God tends to choose people you’d never think He would. Noah was a drunk. Lot offered up his own daughters to the raging men outside his house, the ones who wanted to defile the two angels that had come to warn Lot about what was going to happen to Sodom and Gomorrah. Yes, they were imperfect, but God set them aside, let them escape because as imperfect as they were, they still believed in Him and did their best to live in His ways and truth and do His will.

2 Peter 2:5-9King James Version (KJV)

And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

 

How do you know if it’s possible to be saved? If you look at the world around you, knowing full well that it goes out of its way every single day to reject you, make you feel bad about yourself, condemns you for not fitting in, then chances are you’re being called by God. You have two choices at that point. You can either drown in your own misery and give yourself over to deadly Nihilism, or you can become curious as to why the world hates you, and read the Word of God. Read about how there was only one perfect man who ever walked the earth and the world killed His body on the cross. But He overcame the world when after three days in the belly of the earth, His body and spirit rose again in front of witnesses. and He proved He had returned by showing Himself to people over the next 40 days. Then, just to ram the point home that He had overcome the world, Jesus rose into the heavens, again in front of witnesses, and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

Remember, if the world hates you, rejects you, it hated Him first. He bore all of our sin for us and overcame it. As long as we believe in Jesus Christ and what he came to tell us and show us during His time here on earth, reading His Word and learning it, we will know true hope. Blessed Hope in the form of Jesus Christ, who showed us without any doubt that there is more to life than just this world we live in. Far more.

Talk to God. He is there, and if you pray to Him through His Son, Jesus, our Saviour, holy intermediary and intercessor, He will hear you.

Until Later,

Jillian

[Featured image: “the_body_and_the_self” by parablev]

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