No one who has been sometime in the Lord’s service has escaped being misunderstood. Any form of Service is about communication, and especially there is room for much misunderstanding, when one strives to serve beyond the natural call of duty and move into the spiritual dimension of showing forth Christ’s love in the face of evil opposition and resistance, slandering and all manner of lies and poor treatment. Jesus, our Lord knew what it was like to be misunderstood and He paid for it with His life.
Let us now turn to 2 Corinthians 1 :3-7 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
There are few hurts/confusion more than when being misunderstood, when there is slandering and your integrity is doubted. We must remember that as Christ suffered we must suffer and as He was comforted, so we can look to Him for our comfort even when the object of our suffering is to grow us and make us grow in Him.
Why can we be misunderstood?
1. The intent of our action can be mistaken
a. 1 Corinthians 16:5-7 – Paul said if the Lord permits he would visit the Corinthian church
b. 2 Corinthians 1:15-16 His plans to visit Corinth on the way and return to Macedonia was changed
c. 2 Corinthians 2:1 He decided that he would not make another painful visit after sending them 1 Corinthians.
The Corinthians thought his words did not have credibility anymore even though he changed his mind because his intention was not to make the situation worse by visiting.” Verse 23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.” They became suspicious and picked up every evidence to confirm their suspicions. Acts18:5, 1 Corinthians 2:14. A small flame became a wild fire blown out of proportion.
2. Intent of our words can be misinterpreted /interpreted.
Paul’s concern was for the welfare of the people 2 Corinthians 1:18-22. God never changes and is faithful. We need to entrust God who knows us through and through. Such clearing up of misunderstandings are not always feasible or available and the more we say the worse it might get. Then we pray “O Lord, let your will be done.” and let the truth prevail.
An illustration of misunderstanding is cited where a young man, the son of a rich man was charged with murder. His lawyer said it would be a miracle if he could get his charge changed to manslaughter. The rich man found a juror who was persuaded by the rich father to try and change the charge from murder to manslaughter. The jury deliberated for two weeks and arrived on manslaughter decision. All should have been happy until the father heard that the rest of the jurors actually wanted to set the young man free with an acquittal. How many times do we ask for the wrong thing even when our intentions are right?
3. Intent of our motive can be misjudged.
2 Corinthians 1:23 – God as witness, I do not come to spare you more grief. Paul called for a Time-out. 2 Corinthians 2:4 – his motive of no show was not to sever relationships but not to do anything more to make matters worse when feelings are raw and hurting.
True love is tough and the motive of true love is often misunderstood.
Covey gave an illustration where a mother giraffe was seen kicking her baby again and again. The onlooker could not understand why the mother was so wicked until he was told that the mother giraffe had to do so to instigate the baby to move away, move fast, for in the environment of the wild that would be a survival skill. The mother was misjudged, criticised, but that was the only way she could prepare her offspring to outrun its predator in the future.It was with a heart of tough love that the mother acted as she did.
How do we respond when we are misunderstood?
1. Let God be our vindicator
Waiting is the hardest time.. but when we remember that God does not work accoirdng to the time and ways of man, we must let God be our vindicator. We must not complain, blame 1 Corinthians 1:12,13 we must live in holiness, sincerity and with plain transparency with courage and faith. and not with our natural deceptive heart. Let us be God conscious and let God defend us.
2. Do not return evil for evil
Let us be discerning in humility and submission to God’s will. Trust God in faith. Don’t speak evil. Speak clearly and rest your case and leave the results to the Lord. Say “Father forgive for they do not know what they do.” and pray for your accusers. A day of hope is coming when all will be made clear.
Remember Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will support and hold you in the face of being misunderstood, if you let Him be your refuge and strength in such times of misunderstanding. If you are suffering from misunderstanding now, will you let Him be your refuge and lean on His everlasting arms? If you have passed through suffering, won’t you share your experience so that it can be light for someone, a reader, who is treading the same path?
Perhaps this reminder by Johnny Cash will encourage and comfort you – He’ll understand and say “Well done”