I recently worked with a friend who the Lead Pastor deeply hurt.
Church hurt is familiar these days. I am not sure if we are more offend-able or if church leaders are more unhealthy than in previous decades. Regardless of the cause, the pain is real. My friend has justifiable reasons to be hurt. The wounds were now five-plus years old, and time did not bring healing.
Time does not always heal; sometimes, it deepens the wounds and hardens the heart.
My friend and other wounded Christians struggle with admitting their hurts. Even good believers hide behind Christian cliches, and fake smiles, and build towers around their hurts. Christians often deny their hurts, and God cannot heal what we fail to admit. My friend was hurt and felt used — employed for 20 plus years for little or no salary. He also suffered rejection — having never been invited to the pastor’s home in 20 years. Wow.
Most of us understand the right to be upset, especially when hurts come at the hand of a Christian leader. So, we can ask, “where is God in this?” The answer, God is right there. I am not endorsing the pastor’s behavior. But we must realize that even pastors have issues, hurts, and wounds.
Hurt people, hurt people. Right?
So what does a mature believer do when they are church hurt?
We can find our answers in God’s word. In hurt and hardship, we must remind ourselves to seek God’s wisdom and not lean on our understanding. Even though humans hurt us, God turns every hurt into healing.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20, ESV)
From the passage, God allows evil and turns it for good. So lets’ go deeper. Let’s say a Christian leader has wounded you, and you have it tucked away in your Christian attic. And every so often, we walk up to the attic and visit the wound. And then, one day, God reveals the pain to someone else. In other words, God reveals the hurt and brings it into the light.
So can we say that God reveals to redeem? We can. Let’s recall the story of the Prophet Nathan and his encounter with King David. The Lord sends the Prophet to David to uncover the adulterous relationship with Bathsheba.
The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup, and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the LORD says: `Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes, I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. (II Samuel 12:1–13, NIV)
God reveals David’s sin in order to heal his heart. God always reveals to redeem. God is redeeming David from his prison walls of sin, guilt, and condemnation. Can you see that God is bringing an act of mercy and redemption through a moment of confrontation?
God confronted my friend’s struggle not by exposing his perpetrator, but by exposing his silent pain.
Have you locked past hurts away in your heart?
Healing rarely occurs where blame resides, and we cannot blame others for the negative feelings we protect. We are not prepared for God’s mercy and healing if we justify our right to hold onto our hurts.
Let’s see what Jesus said.
For John, the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7:35, ESV)
These Bible characters used human wisdom to determine their level of truth. Jesus is the one who said, “wisdom is justified by her children.” We often justify our wisdom by what we see, feel, and experience and call it wisdom. We see this everywhere — at the water cooler, over politics, on social media, and in everyday life.
The Johnny Depp trial is a perfect example. Both Johnny and his ex-wife are victims at the hands of each other, and neither will receive healing until one of them is responsible for their actions. This blame-shifting is the same for you and me, and God has solutions to these struggles. Healing will not come until we are responsible for our behavior?
Back to my friend. God is bringing healing as he makes amends and takes responsibility for his actions. Many of you are struggling with wounds, hurt, and pain. Redemption is a part of God’s eternal plan. But, before the redemption, God will reveal the pain.
The pain is never to hurt you, it is the method God uses to turn every evil into good.
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