Have you ever heard a rumour about yourself? I have – and I’m sure most of us, at one time or another, have also. It’s a very uncomfortable experience – especially so if the rumour is totally untrue or derogatory in some way. Perhaps it may even be downright slanderous and destructive. Rumours can destroy relationships, a reputation or a thousand other things in life.
Sometimes we laugh at outrageous rumours we hear about ourselves – but, as I have already said, sometimes they are life changing. I have from time to time been adversely affected by false rumours and lies – sadly and nearly always in a “church” situation. Even after having attempted to restore relationships broken by false rumours – the damage is sometimes both unrepairable and incalculable.
Writing of this experience one biblical character said – “I have heard the many rumours about me, and I am surrounded by terror.” [David – Psalm 31].
The natural reaction to a rumour or baseless accusation is immediately to attempt to justify ourselves – and that may well be the right thing to do. But, as I heard my friend Kenny Borthwick asking last weekend at a conference here in Skye – how do we respond when there is no hope of any public or even private exoneration?
I personally find that self justification is an extremely powerful emotion to subdue – indeed impossible in the natural. I think King David also struggled with this, because in the Psalm we have already quoted he almost shouts at God – “O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced.” And yet, and yet – in the midst of his tears and pain, the loss of friends and the attack of his enemies he can also cry to God – “You are my rock and my fortress – I find protection in you alone – I entrust my spirit into your hand – my future is in your hands. I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love.” [Psalm 31]
I well remember standing in emotional turmoil staring out a window some years ago when a misunderstanding and subsequent false rumour, even though resolved at one level, resulted in the withdrawal of “ministry” opportunities – and the fracture of a relationship. At that moment I heard that still small voice of The Holy Spirit asking – “Am I enough for you – even if you never preach again?”. In saying – “yes” the peace of God flooded my being and I knew a rest I had never known before. And – I have returned to that place a number of times since. I strongly suspect God uses such things to bring us back to the centre and security of his love.
Perhaps someone reading this has been unjustly condemned, criticised, slandered, sidelined or misunderstood and is feeling the extreme pain of it all. Perhaps like David the rumours you hear about yourself are causing terror, anxiety and depression. Please take a moment today to mediate on the final conclusion from the Psalm we have quoted here – and by His unfailing love and mercy rest afresh in Him alone!
“How great is the goodness
you have stored up for those who fear you.
You lavish it on those who come to you for protection,
blessing them before the watching world.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence,
safe from those who conspire against them.
You shelter them in your presence,
far from accusing tongues.”