You face unlimited distractions that keep you from looking at yourself and your circumstances, don’t you? You use these things’ like work, sports, food, sex, or stuff’to try and meet legitimate needs in unhealthy ways. In other words, when you crave something you know isn’t good for you, you do so because you’re using it as a substitute for something you legitimately need but that you find has been difficult to acquire or achieve.
For example, men with an insatiable desire for status or possessions often have an unmet need for love but are afraid to take the risks that intimate relationships require. Instead they invest their time, money, and energy in inanimate objects’things that cannot surprise, disappoint, or reject them. Other men continually demand perfection in others. More often than not, they’re struggling with their own feelings of inferiority’and ultimately, with their own need to be forgiven.
Any intense ‘need’ or desire for a particular activity or relationship is a warning flag that you need to look at it more carefully. You may not know you’re using that activity or relationship as a substitute, but if the thought of losing it makes you fearful, you need to explore the reason why.
My point, men, is this: You have legitimate needs. And an important part of seeing and living the truth is finding out what those true needs really are and realizing that your heart won’t be satisfied by counterfeit substitutes.
Think about what it means to say that God is almighty. On the one hand, if His power wasn’t expressed to us by love, we’d think He was a monster. We’d have every reason to try to run and hide from Him. Since the almighty God is at the same time the all-loving, all-wise, and all-just God, we’re foolish to resist Him. We actually have every reason to fall down before Him in worship and praise, trusting He is the Almighty and all-loving God.
Men, this is who God has revealed Himself to be. And when we surrender to Him, He becomes our protector’our refuge. David, king of Israel, wrote in Psalm 91:1-2:
‘Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.’
Surrender to God brings peace’peace produced and preserved by His strength. Under your own rule, you’re subject to the insecurity of self-reliance. Under God’s rule, you’re anchored to the One the psalmist described as ‘the Rock.’ And that Rock is steadfast, unmovable, and completely worthy of our trust.
Let me put it another way: if you and I fail to fear God, we are left being afraid of everything. On the other hand, if we fear God, we need never be afraid of Him’nor anything else.
Emotional pain never dies of natural causes. Old age doesn’t sap its strength. And you can’t bury it alive. If you try, it’ll kick and scream until you acknowledge it, feel it, and work through it. And working through it usually requires you to forgive. Of course, you can try ignoring the pain ‘ we call that denial. And this may work’to some extent and for some short period of time. But the only way to get it out of your heart is through forgiveness.
Unexpressed grief festers and swells, waiting to erupt. It may explode in uncontrollable rage, gush out in unstoppable tears, seep out in unexplainable depression, or ooze internally, resulting in undiagnosed illness. But men, the one thing you can be absolutely sure of is this: pain you’ve shoved deep down never leaves on its own.
People carry all kinds of pain from disappointments, failures, betrayals, and losses. In our hectic world, the most efficient and acceptable way of dealing with emotional pain is to get yourself so busy that you simply have no time to think about it. This eases your discomfort, so you can carry on, seemingly no worse for wear. The avoidance of pain, however, will keep you from going through the process of forgiveness. When you refuse to feel the full impact of your pain, you don’t allow it to do its necessary work on your character.
Men, please don’t settle for temporary and inadequate fixes. Extending forgiveness is the only real way toward healing.