Learning how to bounce back in today’s world offers Christians a strategy for success when trials arrive.
As part of my prayer time, I listen to Father Al Lauer’s “Daily Bread” radio broadcast. I also read the “One Bread, One Body” booklet reflection on the daily Eucharistic readings for the Mass. Father Al, founder of Presentation Ministries, a lay apostolate under the Archbishop in Cincinnati, and a personal friend, died in 2002 of cancer. While I miss him very much, he wrote and taught prolifically. He produced hundreds of pamphlets, videos and audios. His materials offer rich and challenging insights. Teaching in union with the Magesterium of the Church, Father Al unpacks the complex in simple language.
Today his message on bouncing back really inspired me. Have you been wounded or encountered injustice? We may expect this from people who do not profess to be Christians. However, when it happens by fellow Christians, I compare it to getting a dagger to the heart. I have experienced beautiful encounters with God, and my Christian community. Unfortunately, I endured my fair share of persecution. It can test a person’s faith, and it certainly tested mine.
When you follow Jesus, persecution comes!! Sometimes from all directions!!
In today’s culture many wounds exist. Children get wounded by parents who divorced, or failed to provide love or a nurturing environment. Racist attitudes wound. Kids injure parents. Employers hurt employees, or visa versa. Pastors get wounded by their flock or the flock gets injured by a pastor. The prevalence of wounded individuals and the depth of the wounds overwhelm us at times.
Victims at risk to be perpetrators
Over time, I have observed a fair number of instances, where victims become perpetrators of the very abuse or injustice they suffered. While not always the case, upon a review of numerous scholarly articles on the subject, studies substantiate my anecdotal observation. Several studies noted victims of abuse are at least 25 percent higher at risk than the non abused population for becoming perpetrators. A victim’s tendency to abuse others surfaces across a wide spectrum of abuse types including sexual abuse, bullying, domestic violence, emotional abuse/ and neglect.
People wounded by abuse or injustice need our compassion and our prayers. With each wound I incur, it makes me all the more compassionate and understanding when others suffer injustices. We all need healing at times. Some may need counseling to recover in severe cases. Forgiving others, with the help of God’s grace, gives us a dimension of freedom from injustices.
What happens when wounded people fail to forgive or fail to get the healing they need? The natural human response is anger, resentment, hatred, or even vengeance. We see the “eye for an eye” Old Testament mentality being perpetrated on the city streets via racial clashes. We see a cycle of violence rearing its nasty head. It is understandable when people suffer such violence, injustice or abuse they they would want revenge. Does violence or retaliation restore the initial injustice, or does it create a new injustice? And where does it end? Take a look at the Middle East for instance. Hmmmm…. Are we becoming like that?
Given all the wounded, today’s scripture reading and Paul’s ability to bounce back, inspired me. When you look at the life of Paul in the Book of Acts, he should be named “the Bounce Back King”. He suffered shipwreck, was jailed multiple times, was brutally beaten, stoned, yet he got back up and went back for more. He didn’t return swinging with club out of anger, but he would basically brush himself off, and say to himself, Okay, now where was I in preaching the love of Jesus, and resume his message. Now that’s amazing! You’ve got to admire that kind of response to suffering, being wounded and his many significant trials. I would be home licking my wounds at least for a time, but not Paul, he just went right back to work preaching the love of Jesus Christ.
This scenario in Acts 14:19 really cracks me up. Paul goes to a town called Lystra. At first, the people accept Paul in a great way. Then the people turn against him, and get so mad they start beating him to death, and actually stoned him. Paul gets knocked unconscious, and left for dead. Later on the apostles found him, gathered a in a circle around him and prayed. Paul gets back up and what does he do? He goes back to preach there.
Inspiration for you
Have you suffered an injustice? Do you need inspiration? Try reading about Paul’s adventures in the Book of Acts. Paul bounces back time after time from being beaten, dehumanized, disrespected, and nearly killed. What was it about him that allowed him to do so? What can we learn from Paul? What motivated Paul to continue his mission?
Simply put, Paul fixed his eyes on Jesus Christ. His love for Jesus surpassed his trials. How can we apply Paul’s bounce back spirit, his love of Jesus Christ, and his sense of mission to our lives? How can we apply this sense of mission to a hurting culture which so often wants to breed division, hate, unforgiveness, and vengeance?
What helps you bounce back after being wounded? Tell me about your struggles and your victories. Leave a comment. Like, Share, and Subscribe!
To hear a message of hope and the full teaching by Father Al Lauer about Paul and others who bounced back Click Here