I was 18 years old and just finished my freshman year of college. Never have I felt more misunderstood.
I did an internship with a church after the spring semester, where one of my tasks was to preach a sermon — my first sermon. I was elated to be speaking, even it was just in front of a few other interns.
My text was Matthew 1:18-25, a text that teaches that Jesus is God, and Mary isn’t, though admittedly this is not the main point of the text. Nevertheless, I prepared and prayed as best as I could, gave the sermon, and we finished the day. I was grateful for the feedback.
Until I got home.
I had the audio recorded on purpose so that I could have some family members listen in — both, in this case, happened to be strict Roman Catholics. Not thinking that the whole “Mary’s not God” thing would be an issue, I played the sermon proud as all get-out. Ten minutes into the sermon, though — or maybe just a few minutes, I don’t remember — one family member criticized me for having wrong theology, because I mentioned in passing that we shouldn’t pray to Mary. They told me I should stop going to my Evangelical Protestant church. They made me turn off the sermon because they were sick of listening to me. My family didn’t like my sermon.
Have you ever felt misunderstood?
Jesus Was Misunderstood
Jesus was misunderstood almost incessantly. Here’s three sets of people who misunderstood him:
1) Jesus’ neighbors misunderstood him. In Mark 6, on a Sabbath day, Jesus taught in a Synagogue, where onlookers and hometown villains listened in. “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3). Jesus’ neighbors didn’t get it.
2) Jesus’ family misunderstood him. Skip back three chapters. The crowds gathered by Jesus near his home because they wanted a taste of his public ministry. The crowds were impressed, but Jesus’ family were not: “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). He was the Christ, but his family thought he was crazy.
3) Jesus’ friends misunderstood him. Jesus explains to his disciples God’s plan for Jesus in Matthew 16 — the plan to be crucified for the sins of God’s people. This plan is not up for debate. But Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, thinks he knows better: “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).
Feeling misunderstood? Take heart — you have something in common with Jesus.
How You Might Feel Misunderstood
You might be single, and people keep asking you when you’ll get married. You want to — but it hasn’t happened yet. You don’t know how to explain yourself to family and friends, who thinks there’s something wrong with you because you’re still single.
You might be married. You’ve been trying for a long time to have kids. It hasn’t happened, though you’ve been crying out to the Lord for help. “How come you guys aren’t pregnant yet?”, ignorant friends ask. You sigh and try to change the conversation. Talking about it hurts too much.
Or you might be going through a trial, making a change in your life, or you’ve decided on a route that makes others scrath their heads. You feel, as they say, deeply misunderstood.
God Knows Everything
You’ve heard of this word before, but let’s bring in the “omniscience” of God. In his magnum opus Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defines omniscience as, “God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.”
Elihu says that God is the one who “is perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16), and John says “God knows everything” (1 John 3:20). In short, omniscience means that God is all-knowing of everything — past, present, and future.
Why is this comforting?
It’s comforting because God knows everything about you.
He knows the tears you’ve cried. He knows your groanings, your aches, your longings. He knows about your sighs in the middle of the night. He knows the deep desires of your heart. No detail is overlooked, there’s nothing about you that he doesn’t know. Everyone in your life might misunderstand you, but God never will.
A midst everything you’re going through — and all the times you’ve ever felt misunderstood — you should take heart because God sees, knows, and cares. As Mike Cosper says, “In Christ, we are never misunderstood.”
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