Welcome to the exciting Journey of finding our wholeness in Jesus Christ!
A Short Message from Pastor Al Soto
“God’s Answer for Victim Thinking” Part 2 of 2
I apologize that I was not able to finish the second part of this article last week but I had an unexpected date with an Oral surgeon that led to me also having a tooth pulled. Was not something that I had on my “Do To” list! In my last article I discussed some of the common symptoms of victim thinking. This week I would like to present God’s answer to Victim Thinking. A fascinating passage of Scripture in the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah observes the complaining and blaming attitudes of God’s people. When they felt they were victims of God’s unfairness toward them, Isaiah asked a penetrating question: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?”
The prophet responded to his own question:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power” (Isaiah 40:28-29).
Isaiah’s questions, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” are a stinging declaration of correction to the people. They had seen God rescue them from slavery in Egypt, provide food for them for 40 years in the wilderness after they had refused to trust Him, lead them to the Promised Land, provide leaders and land for them to enjoy, rescue them from self-induced calamity time after time, and provide for them of His kindness and strength. So the implication in Isaiah’s questions is, You have experienced so much of God’s grace, you certainly should know, and you certainly have heard.
Three Pillars that Hold up our Perspective:
All of God’s actions had shown the people of Israel that He is good, powerful, and sovereign. God knows, He cares, and He is strong enough to accomplish His purposes. People who are given to a victim mentality need to grasp all three of these truths about God’s character. Like the pillars that would hold up the roof of a building, all are required for stability. Some people do not believe in any of these! Others believe that God is good, but that He can’t accomplish His purposes because He is not strong enough or He simply does not know what to do. Others may believe that He is powerful, but whimsical, and plays games with our lives.
The Bible is full of passages which describe the attributes of God, but that doesn’t mean that it is a simple matter to understand how God works in every specific situation. Perhaps the sovereignty of God is the most difficult for the individual battling a victim mentality. “Does He really know what He’s doing?” they ask, and, “If He does, why in the world does He let me hurt like this?”
These questions have no easy answers. We cannot presume to comprehend the depths of the mind of God. He allows events and relationships which seem horribly unfair and un-God-like to us. Perhaps our comfort lies not in understanding His particular purposes, but in trusting His basic character.
As we travel down through the journey of life with all of its obstacles that we must maneuver through, sooner or later, we must come to grips with the unfairness of life. I have just become to realize in my journey that I must throw away my scales of justice and seek a deeper richer knowledge of the One who is both loving and wise. Then and only then, am I able to grieve the loss that I have experienced instead of taking on the persona of a prosecuting attorney in which I make demands that all my loss be made good.
Please understand that I am promoting some type of rational denial as the coping mechanism for what we have experienced. The sense of loss is real. It hurts. But demanding that these losses be righted will only lead to more bitterness and pain. Robert S. McGee states,” We need the comforting and healing environment of loving people communicating the grace of a loving God.” As we grieve the losses of the past, we also learn to grieve the losses of each day. The pattern of our lives will change from holding out for unrealistic demands to accepting, grieving, and enjoying what is real” (Robert S. McGee and Pat Springle, Getting Unstuck, Word Publishing, Dallas Texas, 1992, p.104-105).
Steps of Freedom from a Victim Mentality:
If we are to get unstuck in the healing process it is essential to trust if we are to avoid getting stuck in the healing process. Here are several steps to consider:
Recognize you “victim mentality” –Recently I had two very close friends of mine who challenged me personally of adopting a victim mentality concerning a particular situation. I did not like being challenged like that but as I pondered their statements I remember thinking to myself, “Wow! I really am thinking like a victim.” I then had to begin to identify particular thoughts and feelings that were in me reflecting a victim mentality. As I began to identify these thoughts, I was better able to understand why I was thinking, feeling, and acting in particular ways. Our own sense of being right sometimes has to be stripped away so that we can in an authentic way begin to behave “righteously.” When I use the term righteous it is in the sense of I am choosing act like Jesus Christ in a particular situation rather than act on my own sense of woundedness.
Leave vengeance to God – The Lord has not assigned us the responsibility (or given us the right) of taking revenge on others. We can and should develop a biblical identity with corresponding healthy boundaries and choices, but taking revenge is sin. This is in direct violation of Paul’s declaration in Romans 12:19 “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord.” The need for vengeance is just as addicting as the use of any mind altering substance and the emotional energy required to maintain it is exhausting.
Practice the discipline of Reflection on God’s goodness, power, and sovereignty – People who struggle with a victim mentality will struggle with at least one of these aspects to the character of God. One of our goals is to avoid pain. The discipline of reflection allows me to focus in on a God who understands pain and leads me through my pain. Matter of fact, there is some types of growth that can only happen as a result of me confronting the reality of my pain. It is in this arena that I practice the real discipline of journaling and writing out my prayers. So often as I reread all the things that were pouring out of my heart I also see the abundance of grace that fills my soul. The key to reflection is to break my own desire for narcissism and the need for me to place me in the center of the universe.
Clarify your responsibilities – Victims often expect others to be responsible for making them happy. In fact, victims demand that others do good things for them as a means of balancing the scales. We must come to the place in which we stop making demands on others to care for us emotionally. We then must take responsibility for our own feelings, behaviors, and desires.
Continue to focus on God’s character – As we continue on the journey of our healing in Christ we will be carried by Him through many cycles of understanding, grieving, forgiving, and taking responsibility for ourselves. At times we may feel stuck as we encounter another issue that is from our past but here is the wonderful truth that should always guide us: God is good, God is powerful, God is sovereign. With every issue we encounter we can apply the same biblical truth’s concerning God’s character and it will continue to promote health and wholeness rather than becoming stuck in the quicksand victim thinking.
I pray that this article will encourage you on your journey and empower you to “trust” Jesus Christ more with the pain that you may feel in an unfair world.
Tonight at 7PM we have our Heritage Church, Celebrate Recovery Service at the Theater and tonight our teaching is on “Confession” and I will be giving a short discussion on “Confession and Repentance the twin towers of Health!”
I hope to see you tonight!
Discovering the magnificence of grace on the Journey with you,
Al Soto BA, Enrolled in a MA program
Spiritual Growth Pastor