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Happy When You Hurt

Valerie Runyan wrote in Readers Digest: "Soon after our last child left home for college, my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses. 'You know, honey,' I said sweetly, 'without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married.' He replied with a grin, 'Honey, without my glasses, you still look pretty good, too!' " Sometimes the truth hurts! Who did it hurt the most — the wife to whom the truth was spoken, or the husband, after he spoke thee truth to her?! I know one thing for certain — Jesus taught us that standing up for what is right and speaking up for what is true sometimes brings pain — to the one to whom the truth is told, and to the one telling the truth. Jesus made clear reference to this in Matthew 5:10-12 — "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12). Jesus took it for granted there would be times when His disciples would be hurt, not because they did or said something wrong, but precisely because they said and did what was right. Have you, as a follower of Christ, ever been attacked or persecuted, verbally or physically, for standing up for Jesus and what He says is right? If so, Jesus says, "Be happy!" Not because you are hurting, but because you are hurting for righteousness and for Christ's sake. Hurt because you did what was right in the eyes of God, even if not in the eyes of men. Strange as it may sound in a world where most just go along to get along, Jesus tells His disciples to rejoice and be exceedingly glad — be happy, happy, happy — when they suffer hurt and persecution because of Him and His truth! Why? Because we are in great company — "for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you," and because our reward in heaven will be great. Careful — Jesus did NOT say, "Blessed are the obnoxious and over-bearing, the objectionable, the offensive, or the fanatics and extremists." Not all suffering is cause for joy — "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4;15-16). Suffering for doing wrong is cause for shame. But suffering hurt for doing right is a cause to be happy and rejoice.

John Gipson (Little Rock, Arkansas) wrote a bulletin article about an incident at the Democratic nominating convention for the presidency in 1884. "General Bragg stirred the entire political convention when he closed his nominating speech for Grover Cleveland with the words, 'We love him for the enemies he has made.' " Gipson went on to write, "It's not a disgrace to have enemies. Christ had them. Paul had them. Early Christians had them. . .Every good man ought to have some enemies." The title of Gipson's article, "Have You Made Any Enemies?", is a question worth asking ourselves, especially in view of Jesus words in Luke 6:26: "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26). Have you made any enemies? Does Christ love you because of the enemies you have made? You can be happy when you hurt for Jesus sake!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ