This continues our look at dealing with things that we face in our lives. We have looked at winning over worry and discouragement. We now tackle a tough one for many of us.
I have no doubt that someone reading this blog post has been hurt by someone: words spoken to us or others that deeply affected us, such as gossip or slander. Or perhaps something done to us, such as having someone simply walk away from a friendship you thought was solid. Or a family situation that hurt.
For some, sadly, something may have occurred at a church at some time in your life, and we chose to walk away from being involved in God’s visible presence in the world. No, not the building itself, but the people who make up Christ’s church on earth.
So, what do we do when we have been wounded? In the Bible, a man named Joseph gives us some things to look at and apply to our lives to help us move past these things. So follow with me as I briefly share.
First, we do not let what happened define us. Many people have allowed these hurts to knock them off the rails in their lives. In Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers betrayed him. In Genesis 39, he was falsely accused and thrown into prison.
Joseph could have easily quit and decided there was no hope. He could have allowed these things to define him…but he didn’t. In fact, these very issues would help grow his character and believe it or not, deepen his faith in God.
How we react makes a difference. Choose to not let wounds define us. They are not who we are.
A second thing to note is this – Do not forget God’s involvement in our life. How would we have reacted if we were Joseph? He was hurt and stunned, I have no doubt. But he held on to his faith in God. He knew that no matter what happened in his life, he was not defined by those things and his God had not abandoned him.
God has promised to always be with us (Hebrews 13:5). Joseph held on to that fact. Please recognize that God did not “make” someone hurt us. He did not “twist the proverbial knife” just to get at us. He was not unaware of what was happening, but even in these difficult times, God uses them to grow our character. That is the teaching of James 1.
God takes every situation and will use it to grow deeper in our relationship with Him as we recognize our identity as His child. He loves us unconditionally and cares for us deeply.
A third thing we have to do when it comes to these deep hurts is – forgive. This may be one of the hardest things to do. Imagine being Joseph. Eventually he would once again be reunited with his family, which included brothers who had treated him poorly years before.
He could have harbored bitterness. He could have chosen to hold a grudge. He was the second most powerful man behind Pharaoh in the entire land of Egypt (Gen. 41:40). He could have dealt harshly with his brothers. Instead, he chose to forgive. He even told them that though they had meant to do evil against him, God took it and used it for good (Gen. 50:20). Because of Joseph’s position in Egypt, he was able to save many from a terrible famine.
Forgiveness frees us. What I have discovered, and you may have also, is that when we hold on to an unforgiving attitude, it is we who suffer. The person who hurt us may not even care. Or they may not even know.
When we forgive we choose to let go of the hurt. We relinquish it to God. We choose to move forward in our life. Whether the other person ever asks for forgiveness, it does not matter. We must handle it the right way. We need to forgive.
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven us. God has completely forgiven us. We must do the same. Let go of the deep hurt. When those things begin to creep back into our minds, remind ourselves that we have chosen to forgive, change immediately what we are thinking (Philippians 4:8) and breath in the fresh air of forgiving.
We will add a couple of more thoughts on this in our next blog. My prayer is that this gives us all some hope and encouragement when it comes to those deep hurt we may have experienced.