When Hurt Meets Love
In my last post, The Freedom to Hurt Part. 1, I share the story of the issue I faced as a new believer serving in a ministry at our church. The issue hurt so bad I felt I had no choice but to leave that church altogether.
Now before we move on, I want to make sure I clarify that when leaving a situation due to pain I am in no way referring to a situation where you walked into a church, waited a very long 5 minutes, and since no one spoke to you, you decided the pastor, the church staff and the entire congregation are a bunch of hypocrites – so you left. And I am not trying to make light of that. We have all done this. I have behaved this way when I was very immature and was looking to make excuses.
For the sake of this article, I am referring to situations where an investment of some sort has been made into a relationship… a marriage, children, friendships, work relationships, volunteer relationships and so on…And in that relationship something happened which caused pain and in that situation you felt your only recourse was to leave.
Lord, what do I do?
As a one-year believer I did not know any better on how to handle the situation with this church. After six-months of trying to be content with the criticism, random changes, and isolation, I could no longer take it. I sincerely did not know what else to do.
Psalm 23:3 “he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.“
I walked out of that church and immediately tried to not feel the pain by keeping myself busy with doing stuff. I got myself involved with other ministry activities right away. We joined a new church and I started to get involved.
This was not okay!
This is the result of not allowing myself the freedom the hurt.
The freedom to cry.
The freedom to go to God in pain.
We try to cover the pain up.
I can tell you from personal experience, that if you do not allow God to help you heal you will go from one thing to the next trying to heal pain the wrong way. It might not be through serving like I did. You might try to heal your pain by overeating, drugs, alcohol, addictive shopping and so forth.
When we hurt, we need to feel God’s love to help us heal.
One of the reasons we don’t go to God is because we don’t believe we CAN go to God. We treat people as if they are robots who should be able to flip the right switch to feel the way we want them to feel. If people hurt, they need to flip the “get over it” switch and do it fast!
God will never make you feel that way.
2 Corinthians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,“
Jesus Christ opens His arms to you. He rubs your head. He allows you to cry.
He allows you to cry again.
He allows you to cry – again – and again.
He gives you the time you need to heal.
When we know we have a Father who loves us, He helps us work through our pain. There is no one on this earth who will love you this way. No one will be this patient and tender to you.
Matthew 13:16 “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.“
One of the ways Jesus Christ helps us through our pain is by helping us to see situations from another perspective. In my situation, God has helped me to see where I went wrong.
In the story of Hagar, although Hagar fled because Sarai treated her so harshly, Hagar was not totally innocent. When Hagar learned she was pregnant with Abram’s child she began to mistreat Sarai. In other words, she became arrogant. Sarai’s response was to treat Hagar so bad that Hagar fled. To Hagar’s defense, she didn’t ask to have a child with Abram. The entire situation happened because Sarai was impatient with God’s plan for her own child, so she gave Hagar to Abram so Abram would have a child with Hagar which would eventually be Sarai’s child. Nonetheless, two wrongs don’t make a right. And Hagar had a choice to make. She was wrong in her behavior.
Genesis 16:4 When she (Hagar) knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress (Sarai).
You might have a valid reason for your pain, but is there anything you could have done differently to help the situation?
In my case, when I think back on this newsletter issue, God showed me that I could have easily handled things differently. Maybe I could have called this person when they refused to change the newsletter. Maybe talking over the phone or in person would have helped us reach a positive resolution. But if I am being honest, I took immediate offense to their refusal to change the article. My tone in the email was probably not very nice. What if I had behaved better? What if I wasn’t concerned with being right? What if I took the initiative to bring honor to God through that situation?
This is what happens when you go to God with your pain. He opens your eyes to a bigger picture. Pride keeps us from admitting to God we are hurt and that leads to bitterness and that leads us to handling every situation the same. Going to God in your pain, allows you to learn from your mistakes. It keeps you humble. It keeps you sensitive when you hurt others.
Yes, believe it or not, you have, and you will hurt others. For all I know, the person I am referring to in this article might very well have their own perspective. They might feel I am the one who hurt them, and they have a right to those feelings. God helps me to be sensitive to the pain I have caused someone else.
But this all makes sense when you allow yourself the freedom to hurt and to go to God with your pain!
He Will See You Through
Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,“
One year after I left that church, one of the members of the Life Group we were in had a very sudden and devasting health crisis. (We will call this person Sally) Sally was not expected to make it beyond a few days but did. I asked my husband Omar to take me to the hospital so I could pray for Sally. (This was obviously pre-Covid when visitors were allowed, and you could stand right next to a person a pray – which I did)
When I arrived at the hospital another person who was in my former Life Group was in the room praying for Sally.
Sally was sedated and was unaware of our presence, but I prayed for God’s healing. (On a side note, with continued treatment and therapy Sally made a total and miraculous recovery!)
But, after praying – me and the other person did a very quick catch up; “How are you? “Oh, I fine”, sort of thing. Nothing deep at all.
But as I turned to leave, this person put their hand on my shoulder and said, “Saleama, I am so sorry for the way you were treated at church. It was not a reflection of the church. You were loved and valued and an integral part of the ministries.”
I almost wanted to start crying. I was amazed and thankful for those words. I had no idea who was going to be at the hospital when I arrived. I was only going there to pray for Sally. Although that situation wasn’t about me at all, God used it to help me start the healing process.
Joy Comes in the Morning
I wish I could tell you in the 13 years since that situation I haven’t experienced any other painful situations from Christians or from the church. I have experienced equally painful situations since then. In fact, an article I wrote for Christianity Today several years ago, regarding another painful situation at a church, in a totally different state – is a popular article for Christianity Today. If I do a simple Google Search of “Being hurt by church leaders” it’s the second article to appear in the search engine.
Pain from others will continue, but I have experienced God in a big way each time I have gone to Him with my pain. I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned lessons. I have cried many tears to Him. I repented when He showed me my mistakes. I have called people on the phone and apologized to them for hurting them. I talk to my children all the time about my pain so they too will know how to cry to God when they are hurting.
That is the beauty of having the freedom to hurt.
Whatever you’re feeling please allow God to help you heal. Whether you’re right or wrong in your situation, – you still hurt – and your pain matters to God.
He will walk with you step-by-step.
It might take you a year or a few years to get through this pain – and it’s okay.
He won’t rush you to get over it.
He will lovingly help you get through it!
~Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Email me today if you don’t know Him and I will pray with you.