Precious Lessons of Rebuke

Last spring I spoke flippant words and those words hurt someone in the church. And although we talked about it openly and everything was made right, a weird remnant of insecurity hung over my interactions with others. God reminded me that the healthy criticism of rebuke is a good and necessary thing, but good rebuke goes deep (Proverbs 17:10). And nobody likes disappointing people.

Inwardly I wrestled with the emotional fallout, and I wished God had protected me from speaking the words in the first place.

I simply could not let it go, replaying the situation over and over in my mind. Even as he reminded me of his goodness and grace, I found myself saying, “Yes, but I want . . .”

What did I really want?

I wanted comfort.

I wanted the assurance that I would never disappoint anyone again.

I wanted people to understand me.

“Good rebuke cuts deep so we affirm again: Lord, you are enough.”

Perhaps because of my growing insecurities, I began looking around for affirmation. I wanted to know my value to other people because my perceived value had been cut into just a little. This only served to exacerbate a sense of isolation and loneliness because, as God does when we place our hope in good things that aren’t him, he did not give me my heart’s desire.

Through Scripture, he spoke to me of his love for me, and of my value in Christ. Even as I read the words, I found myself saying, “Yes, but I want . . .”

So what did I want?

I wanted to not feel alone. I wanted to be loved by others in specific and tangible ways. I wanted pats on the back.

The terrible case of the “But I Wants” was metastasizing. I grasped for hope.

And then I was hurt. Legitimately hurt. Achingly hurt. One thing more God? I cannot stand under this weight.

I just wanted to run away — from myself, from relationships that seemed too difficult, from the discomfort and pain of walking through things I never wanted to walk through. I wanted to get mad at God.

I gave him the silent treatment for a few days, but he wasn’t silent with me. He spoke to me through his word and through others about his perfect sovereignty. A glimmer of hope struck in my heart like a match flicked into tinder. Even as it tried to catch fire, I found myself saying, “Yes, but I want . . .” and feeling the fire go out. What did I want?

I wanted what I wanted — and it wasn’t him.

This is soul cancer. Not wanting him, but what he can give me, and what he gives to others. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For he himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

Like a good father, God kept from me what I desired because my desire was cloaked in covetousness. And he was jealous to give me something of greater value.

“Like a good father, God kept from me what I desired because my desire was cloaked in covetousness.”

Through Scripture, he said to me, “Christine, I offer you my grace.” And I responded with the silent treatment.

He said, “Christine, I love you.” And I responded, “Yes, but I wish they would . . .”

He said, “I am perfectly sovereign over your life and will take care of you.” I responded, “Yes, I know, but . . .”

He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I responded still the same: “But I want something else.”

He said, “You have me.” I kept coming up with excuses of why that wasn’t enough for me.

I was looking to lesser things to satisfy. He answered me with the enough-ness of his presence.

Anything we desire more than God creates in us an insatiable thirst, as I was discovering. Insatiable. Never to be satisfied. How ungrateful and arrogant I’d been! I was pierced to the heart with my transgressions.

We will never be content if God is not enough for us, if the promise of his presence and his help in any situation we face is not enough for us.

I look back to my flippant words, the pain they caused, the rebuke I needed, and the pain and uncertainty that followed it. In light of it all, he continues to offer me grace and love and care and help.

Good rebuke cuts deep so we affirm again: Lord, you are enough.