Strategy #9: Your Hurts (Fervent Bible Study Blog #10)
Sometimes people hurt us intentionally or sometimes they’re oblivious to the hurt they cause. I don’t know that one is easier to live with than the other. Take the guy who ran the red light and hit my car, for example. Once I got out and I went to the passenger side, he rolled down the window.
“What were you thinking?” I yelled. “Your light was so red. What were you doing?”
He just looked at me and shrugged. Not a word, not an apology. Just a shrug.
And I’ve been in pain for almost four weeks because of him. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably be finishing the book I’m writing. My goal for April was to finish The Redeemed. If it wasn’t for him there would have been more laughter this past month than tears. I’d be able to go down to San Diego and visit my mom. I’d be cooking more meals for my vegan hubby. I’d be talking to my friends more. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t feel miserable every day.
“If I were your enemy, I’d use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind, as well as the people, events, and circumstances that caused them. I’d try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness.” (Shirer 151)
Yes, this guy hurt me. Yes, it’s unfair. I have two choices though. Hold on to the hurt and bitterness, allowing Satan to use it for his purpose, or forgive him in Christ and allow God to use it for my good.
Unfortunately, there are all kinds of hurts a person can inflict on another human being. There’s physical pain, emotional pain, and even spiritual pain. I have suffered all three and honestly don’t know that one is more devastating than the others. They all leave scars. They can all put us in a bad place. But not forgiving the person who wronged us puts us in a worse position.
“When you choose to forgive someone, you’re not wiping their actions away as if the bad things didn’t happen, giving people a free pass from the harm they’ve caused. You’re just sparing yourself the burden of working two extra jobs— being judge and jury for how justice is meted out in the situation.” (Shirer 160)
I understand that. I have forgiven even greater hurts people have inflicted upon me. Hurts that a person should never have to endure from anyone, let alone those considered spiritual leaders. But when Priscilla quoted 2 Corinthians 2:5-8, my eyes were open to what true forgiveness is.
“I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.” (2 Corinthians 2:5-8 NLT)
My first thought after reading those verses was, “But I’m the one who has been sinned against. I’m the one in pain. I need to be comforted. Why would I want to comfort the person who sinned against me?”
Though I wasn’t really asking God, the answer came quickly from the Holy Spirit.
To be like Jesus.
We comfort those who sinned against us because that’s what Jesus did. Hanging on the cross after being beaten for others’ sins, He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NLT) He didn’t yell or cuss at them. He didn’t glare at them. He verbally asked God to forgive them in their presence. I’m sure when they realized what they had done, that act brought comfort.
It’s not about giving the person a shoulder to cry on. Comforting doesn’t need to mean you pat a person on the back and say what they did was okay. It could be taking them a meal like Priscilla did or offering words of kindness. A smile instead of a glare. A handshake instead of a cold shoulder. Even saying a prayer for their salvation rather than cursing their name. If Jesus can do it, we can as well because His Spirit lives in us.
“Genuine freedom and renewed fervency are waiting for you on the other side of forgiveness. And the forgiveness you don’t have any desire to give right now can be amazingly enabled through prayer.” (Shirer 161)
What hurt have you endured that you need to lift to God? Who is it that you need to forgive? Please don’t gloss over this week’s prayer, my friend. Find your scripture to cling to and write out the prayer that will bring freedom to your soul. The prayer of forgiveness.