If you’re reading this, I’m assuming a couple of things about you. First, you are a human, and thus have feelings and emotions. Second, because of these feelings and emotions, you have been hurt at some point in your life, some of you deeply hurt by those who should have taken care of you. The third thing I assume about you is that you did not enjoy the process of being hurt. This part isn’t complicated. People hurt other people and the consequences are not fun. This is the result of sin in the world, and as long as there is still sin, there will be pain.
What is complicated is the way we deal with pain.
I don’t mean to put down the intricacies of suffering, not by any means. I simply mean that pain and suffering have been a part of the human condition since Adam and Eve sinned by rebelling against God (Genesis 3:1-10), and that working through this pain is critically important to the life of faith for a Christian. I also don’t mean to say that we must put aside our pain, but rather that we must acknowledge it and know what to do with it, else we will face severe consequences.
For example, if you’ve been hurt by a particular person, especially a person who should have protected and loved you, it is incredibly easy to foster hatred or resentment for that person, isn’t it? The depth of pain can blind us to the truth of God’s word, which tells us to pray for those who mistreat us (Luke 6:27-28). I encourage you to read those verses. They contain some difficult words to follow, but they are utterly important to a proper relationship with God. You see, we are commanded in scripture to forgive others, just as Christ also forgave us. This does not mean we must resume an abusive or harmful relationship, or that we should trust those who have hurt us deeply, but that we should forgive the actions. In doing this, we open the way for God’s healing power and restorative grace.
I’m reminded of something my mother told me, which she heard from my grandfather. She told me that holding a grudge against someone or being bitter about an action is like swallowing poison and hoping that the other person dies. It’s worse than pointless, it does you harm! Instead of this, I challenge you to surrender your pain to God in prayer. There is tremendous healing in simply telling God exactly how you feel. Know that you will never offend God by expressing how you really feel. He already knows it, and by giving voice to your struggle, you ensure a true understanding of it. If you don’t express it truthfully, it is easy to lie to yourself, and this frequently leads to burying the true weight of your struggle, which is toxic to a right relationship with God.
Take courage in this. God is referred to as the Comforter throughout scripture. Psalm 46:1 says that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble”. God knows the depth of your sorrow, and he has experienced it with you. According to Hebrews 4, Jesus has experienced everything we have. He knows your pain. Ultimately, our hope as Christians is in the eternal reality of his love for us, and the way that will be manifested, according to Revelation 21:3-4 is that he will comfort his people and will wipe away every tear. This is such beautiful imagery, and does much to convey the deep love God has for his people.
My prayer for you is that you will know this love, and that you will experience the healing power of Christ’s forgiveness. Are you holding onto bitterness? Let it go! Forgive those who have hurt you, as Christ forgave you! Though this is not easy, it is crucial to living rightly before God.