Having grown up on the reservation, I have observed and experienced the life of a minority group within a dominant culture. With a long history of cultures in conflict, great effort is being made in our generation to find answers regarding reconciliation and the healing of the wounds of the past. There is indeed a great need for healing in the lives of broken people. We who have suffered hatred, prejudice, and acts of exploitation believe this is an important issue that needs to be discussed and answered. Though I cannot change the failures and injustices of the past, I must deal with the past before I can move forward with my life. Each of us must have a personal understanding by which we can live at peace in the present. Humanly speaking, making sense of pain inflicted by others is beyond our understanding. Wicked actions of others (both past and present) touch our lives. It is beyond our control to prevent the pain in this sin-cursed world. So I ask, can anything profitable come out of sorrow? Can a divine sense of purpose be found? As I have sought God’s mind, I have discovered great truths from His Word. Yes, there are answers! I have discovered that hope can be found in the character and commands of our Creator. Knowing the hardships we would face, God has preserved for us some empowering truths to consider.
I HAVE FOUND THAT MY CREATOR KNOWS HOW I FEEL.
Isaiah 53:3 “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Hebrews 4:15-16, He is “touched with the feeling of our weaknesses…” and we may “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
I Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.”
What a great encouragement to know that God has experienced how we feel! He knows my inner sorrow when I have been wounded by another! God sent His Son to be born among people who were a minority group (Deuteronomy 7:6-7 “you were the fewest of all peoples.”). God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live as a member of a tribal people (Genesis 49:28) living in the ancestral home of their forefathers (Luke 2:1-4). The people that God’s Son identified with lived in a land under foreign rule. The Jewish people knew what it was to live in captivity. They experienced their own long walk of forty years in the wilderness (Acts 7:17-36). They survived against foreign aggression, dominance, and arrogant authorities who were heartless toward their cultural heritage. The Jewish people continue to fight for their survival today. Jesus knew as well the wounds of rejection inflicted by people of His own community (Mark 6:1-6). He endured persecution at the hands of His own people who chose to put cultural tradition before Scriptural truth (Matthew 15:3, 8-9) and chose to worship creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:16-25). There are great joys and also great challenges living and working in the reservation community. As the all-knowing and all-powerful God of the universe, He understands how I feel and He wants me to experience His strength that can empower me in my weakness.
I HAVE LEARNED THAT MY CREATOR WANTS ME TO SEEK HIS VIEWPOINT.
II Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest in me.”
Proverbs 4:4 “Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”
Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
Unless I am able to know my Creator’s point of view, as recorded in the Bible, the injustices that have hurt me as an individual, or us as a people group, can turn into deep bitterness. Bitterness in my spirit is like poison in my body. It will infect my thoughts, emotions, and decisions. Anger, resentment, and bitterness always hurt the one who keeps them in his heart more than the one toward whom it is felt. Seeing things from God’s point of view helps us to begin to experience God’s healing process.
Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and brawling, and evil speaking, be put away from you..”
I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT MY CREATOR IS IN CONTROL.
Psalm 37:1-2, 7-8 “Fret (worry) not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity (wicked deeds). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, because of him who brings wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
II Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation (difficult times), that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
God can take the wrong choices and conduct of evil people that touch my life and accomplish something good! To accomplish His purpose, God may deliver me through the pain rather than from the pain. He is in control of the events of my life. Because He cares, He must have something beneficial for me in my spiritual life. He wants me to see the problems as opportunities…to learn, to change, to grow, to increase in my ability to compassionately help others in their trials. Rather than demanding deliverance in prayer, I am learning to pray for endurance. Freedom is often difficult until I can acknowledge that offenses against me or the ones I love may be a means of furthering God’s purpose in and through my life. It is my choice…to become bitter or better through suffering.
I Peter 4:19 “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
I Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
I REALIZED THAT MY CREATOR WANTS ME TO ACT, NOT REACT.
I Peter 2:20 “…If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God..”
Matthew 5:43,44,46 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye…?”
Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Knowing God’s point of view helps me to choose to act according to His will. When I choose a godly response to another’s wrong actions, it may be the very opportunity that God uses to introduce others to His character and to the Source of my faith. When God commands me to forgive, He is challenging me to seek a positive attitude toward the offense rather than a negative attitude toward the offender. The positive part is that I have an opportunity to please God in my response. I am not responsible for other people’s sinful actions. God will ultimately judge them. But I am responsible before God Who will ultimately judge me concerning my reactions. What does it mean to forgive? Forgiveness deals with my chosen response to the offender. Forgiving a person is clearing his record with me and transferring the responsibility for any punishment to God. Even if it is not visible, the offender has already begun receiving the consequences of his offenses in this life. If he remains unwilling to turn from his sin, he will continue to bear God’s punishment throughout eternity. I must remember, justice will be served on the offender…in God’s time frame, not mine.. When I choose to forgive, I am cooperating with God in the life of the offender. My choice to be bitter against an offender works against God and is taking a right that I do not have (Romans.12:17-21). I am commanded by God to think of bitterness as sin (James 4:17, Matthew 6:15, Mark 11:26, Luke 6:37), to guard against it (Hebrews 12:15), and to remove it from my thoughts (Ephesians 4:31).
If I choose to respond sinfully (my way), instead of spiritually (God’s way), I have become part of the problem, rather than the solution.
I REJOICE THAT MY CREATOR WANTS ME TO BE FORGIVEN.
Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I have learned that my pathway to peace is forgiveness. Forgiving others who have done evil to us is the last response expected by most people. Forgiving those who do not deserve it goes against the thinking of our society. It is against our human nature. No, it is not natural to forgive; it is supernatural. Only God can help me to respond this way. This requires a relationship with God. I have found that the rituals of religion cannot replace a fulfilling relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The ability to forgive others and experience a joyful life, begins first with recognizing my own sin, confessing it to God, and receiving His forgiveness. Only when I realize that I have already been forgiven a far greater debt of sin is it possible for me to consider forgiving another. By our sin, as a human race, we have wounded our Creator. (Isaiah 53: 5-6 “But he was wounded for our sin…the Lord hath laid on him the sin of us all”). The Son of God died on the cross to pay for our sin that we might be forgiven. He willingly suffered for us in our place to pay the debt of sin we owed. Though undeserving, I have been offered forgiveness! God wants all of us to accept His forgiveness, repent of (turn from) our own sin, and seek a relationship with Him.
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages (payment) of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I have chosen to obey God in this matter of asking Him to forgive me for my sins that have wounded Him. I have found great peace in knowing that my sins have been forgiven and I now have a growing relationship with God that empty religion could not provide. I want to encourage you that true healing begins when we seek God’s face. Your relationship with Him begins when you pray to God in faith. The specific words are not as important as the attitude of your heart. I prayed a sinner’s prayer similar to this.
“Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me of my sin. I accept your forgiveness promised in the Bible to those who repent (turn from their sin). Thank you for giving your innocent Son to be wounded for me on the cross. I receive your free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. I surrender my life to you here on earth until you take me home to your presence. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.”
I AM PROMISED THAT MY CREATOR WILL BLESS MY OBEDIENCE TO HIM.
A principle found throughout Scripture is that blessing follows obedience! The promises of God are many concerning His honoring our obedience. When we obey, God can restore love (Matthew 5:43-44), friendship (Matthew 18:15), worship (Matthew 5:23-24), and power in prayer (Mark 11:25-26, I Peter 3:7). Our decision to do what God says rather than to do what we feel like doing is the key. Right actions in obedience to God’s Word will produce right feelings. The Bible gives us many examples of people who were mistreated by the wicked actions of others. Those who chose to seek God’s thoughts in the middle of the hard times were able to witness God’s direction in their lives. Consider Joseph’s response to his wicked brothers recorded in Genesis 50:20. Consider King David’s response to Shimei when he was driven from his throne by his rebellious son (II Samuel 16:11). Stephen forgave his fellow Jews while being killed for his faith in God (Acts 7:60). Jesus forgave His persecutors while enduring the agony of the cross to save mankind from sin (Luke 23:34). Scripture records that God honored His Son’s obedience in suffering and now we are blessed with forgiveness of our sin.
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted (honored) him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11.
I cannot wait for those who have brought heartache, pain, and hardship in my life to be responsible to act right, ask forgiveness, and make restitution for their sins. We who have been wounded and are seeking genuine healing and reconciliation must take action. Rather than condemning others for their faults, we can share with others the forgiveness of sin that we have found through Jesus Christ. We can learn to treat offensive people the way God has treated us as undeserving sinners…with love and forgiveness. Wounds can be healed!
“Love shall cover the multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8.
The challenges of living in our reservation communities can be overwhelming at times. Let other native believers help you! You will find native testimonials and resources by visiting our website at www.todaysnative.org. Today’s Native is the cooperative effort of tribal members and friends in the native community who want to be an encouragement by sharing their stories of hope and healing. The people portrayed from various tribes are a work of God in progress simply sharing what they are learning and overcoming with the hope of equipping the next generation to minister in their own native communities. Write to us for a free DVD. We are committed to pray for you. Let us know how you are doing. If you have a story to share of God’s work in your life, we would love to share it with others.
In His Clan,
The Today’s Native Family
Today’s Native – P.O. Box 219, Fort Thomas, AZ 85536 – (Copyright 2015)