I have served four churches in forty years of ministry. I am presently the interim pastor of a wonderful church in my area. We know how ministry for Christ can become a doubled edged sword. On the one hand, we are richly blessed by so many who love, support and respect us. We love the way our brothers and sisters respond in a positive way to our ministry to them. It’s great to see new people come into our church body. We appreciate the way God sends wonderful folks to serve alongside of us.
However, ministry can become hazardous as we come face to face with difficult issues and difficult people. The same people who supported us in the past may not support us in the present. We see folks come into the church and over time they leave without so much as saying a word to us. My son and his family recently joined a new church in town. They had been members at another church for years. My son contacted the pastor one afternoon and shared with him why they were making this change to another church. This pastor was gracious and affirming to my son. This pastor leads a large and very strong church in his city. He said this was the first time someone had initiated a meeting with him in order to explain why they were joining another church. It was usually a matter of running into a former member at the store or somewhere and then the explanation was given for leaving.
Everyone in ministry gets hurt. Everyone in church gets hurt. Everyone everywhere gets hurt. If you have never been hurt or let down by someone, then you are not living on this planet. We have all been hurt and we are all going to get hurt again. How do we move from hurt to healing?
Here are some key responses I have learned as I have read the Scriptures and tried to apply God’s truth in times of hurt:
Acknowledge the hurt
Do not pretend your pain does not exist. Do not avoid the feelings you are experiencing at that moment. Talk to God about what you are feeling. We see this all through the Psalms as different men struggled with the pain of being hurt by others.
If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.
It is important to talk to others who can help you bear the burden of that hurt. Find someone who can help process what is going on in your life. When we share our hurts with the right people, it tends to lighten the burden of that pain over time.
Pray for the person(s) who caused the hurt
This point comes straight from Jesus himself.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
When we pray for our offender, it is like pouring healing ointment on our soul. The more we pray for our offender, the faster the healing. The great preacher E.V. Hill said, “You cannot pray for someone and hate them at the same time.” The act of prayer exchanges the hurt feelings with healing words.
Bless the person(s) who caused the hurt
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.29If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Our natural inclination is to punish our offenders. We want to see payback. We want them to hurt like we were hurt. However, if we will do just the opposite, then healing can come our way. If we love rather than hate. If we will do good to them. If we will bless instead of curse then we are opening the door for healing to come into our life. I am not saying this is easy. This message from Jesus is liberating.
Forgive the person(s) who caused the hurt
In the end, we have to face the choice about forgiveness. Will we forgive? Unforgiveness comes with a high price. As someone said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.” Forgiveness does not mean we forget. Forgiveness means we move on with the response, “You don’t owe me.” “I am letting this go.” Here’s how we can forgive anyone and everyone who has hurt us-
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
We forgive the sins of others because God forgave us of all our sins. Forgiven people forgive. We set others free from their debts because God set us free from our sin debt. Forgiveness is a choice we make not based on our feelings of hurt, but based on the cross of Jesus where He took upon himself all of our sins.
I pray you will move forward from hurt to healing. Call us anytime if we can be of help to you.
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