One of the realities of being an authentic worshiper of the Lord Jesus Christ is the privilege and burden of interacting with hurting people. This is a part of the new life in Christ God has called us all to embrace.
There are many reasons that people hurt, including grief, disappointment, injury, illness, fear, and more. Sometimes the hurt is the result of a beautiful yet broken creation that manifests its fallen-ness in painful and even deadly diseases. Other times hurt can come through negligent or even intentional acts of other people that can devastate us. Hurt can even come as a consequence of our own choices and actions.
Most of us have experienced deep disappointments, grief, and even betrayal by someone in our lives. I have had my share of hurt, even to the point of wondering how I would ever recover. Through it all God has always restored and given me his comfort, healing and peace—through His Word, the Holy Spirit, the help from others, and time.
There is a worship song that beautifully describes this:
“How great the love of God so merciful
That You don’t turn Your face from me
How great the love of God that it sustains me
Bearing my burdens restoring my soul”
(“How Great the Love” Jennifer Holm, Village Church)
Through the hurts God has allowed in my life I have learned the importance of letting go of resentment, bitterness, and harshness that can creep in and take over our minds, hearts, and lives and spill into the lives of other people. Equally important is the decision to let Christ’s peace rule in my heart —and in my relationship with other Christ followers. (See Colossians 3:15).
What happens to us may not be our choice. However, we can choose to respond to and deal with hurt as an act of worship to God. This approach isn’t easy and requires a daily act of submission to God’s peace over our own thoughts and emotions. I know this can be hard because I’ve been there. But it is possible, and ultimately brings deep hope, peace and fulfillment in God.
Finally, some hurts are the result of disagreements that spin out of control. I have even seen this happen in churches, and I’m convinced it grieves God when believers walk away from each other rather than seeking restoration, fellowship and peace in Christ. The apostle Paul once urged two women who were deadlocked in a deep disagreement to come together:
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.”
I’m sure these women were hurting as the result of their standoff. Whatever their feud was about, it was also harming their local church in Philippi. Both women probably believed they were right, but their insistence on their way and harboring resentment toward each other seemed to matter more than Christ’s reign in their life, relationship, and in the local church. This issue also affected the entire early church, as word of it obviously reached Paul and other churches in the region. This was no small matter: It had a bearing on the greater Kingdom work Christ wanted to accomplish in and through the Church.
Even if one or both of these women would have left the local church to go somewhere else the issues inside them would have remained. Someone once put it this way “Wherever you go, there you are”.
God intervened through Paul, who didn’t just tell them to get along. Instead, he counseled them to seek and experience the mind of Christ, who alone could bring them together and into agreement. Both of them had to submit their minds, emotions, and relationship to Christ first and then come together in Him.
Hurts happen, even in the local church. How we react and submit to God in these times has a huge bearing on His kingdom work in the local church and in the world.
More on this next time.
God bless you,