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I’ve Been Hurt

hurt.jpgLife comes with pain attached. Most of us expect, and manage to receive, our reasonable share of scrapes and bruises, injuries and ailments. Even when we undergo serious bouts of acute pain, we usually don’t lose our senses. We understand that no one glides through life unscathed.

Emotional hurt, however, tortures us far more than the physical kind. It attacks our will to work, love and live. It eats away at our identity and sense of self-worth. It makes us feel like running away. Double that for anyone working for God. Coping requires enormous amounts of spiritual strength, maturity and grace.

Callous remarks, petulant digs and ignorant statements make up a big share of hurt. We sometimes get lied upon, gossiped about, knifed in the back, or openly opposed. Why? Perhaps those who inflict pain are living out their own character deficiencies. In many hearts, anger, bitterness and jealousy seethe below the surface. But well-orchestrated plots deliberately staged to remove or destroy them can sting people, especially those in leadership. Leaders provide easy targets for malcontents.

It’s tough to go on when you’ve been hurt. For one thing, no one may know the adversity you’ve had to overcome just to be who you are. You may have had to wade through abuse, rejection and put-downs all your life. Sickness, financial loss and personal heartache may have dealt you staggering blows. Suddenly, someone hurls a careless, selfish insult at you. They pick you apart or treat you like you are an intruder. Inside, you scream out, “That’s all I need!” Instead of praise, you get criticized; instead of appreciation, you get ignored. In other cases, it may not be personal at all. You may have unwittingly stepped into a power struggle or a long-standing feud. Whatever the reason, it’s never pleasant. You feel like drawing back. And when you know that someone is out to get you, it is extremely difficult to re-enter the realm where you make yourself vulnerable to attack.

What should you do when you’ve been hurt? Strike back? Complain loudly? Get somebody to come in and fix it for you? Back off and let “them” have their way? You don’t really want to quit, but it is tempting at times. Here are a few suggestions that may help:

Make sure your armor and shield are in place. The helmet, breastplate, footgear and shield all protect the soldier from harm, whether from the enemy, the elements or “friendly fire”. Only the sword equips him for the offensive battle. In God’s work, we should expect opposition. Keep your armor on and minimize the hurt.

Humbly try to make things right. Did you initiate the problem with a careless remark of your own? Did you act in a way that was misunderstood? Even if not, assume some of the responsibility anyway and offer a genuine apology. Asking and receiving forgiveness not only relieves stress immediately, it opens the door for future understanding.

Seek to understand what is really behind the attack. Understanding is light. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) You may discover a hidden false impression or a misunderstanding that has caused all the difficulties.

Remember who called you to your life’s work. Never place your feelings, reactions or spiritual identity in someone else’s hands. Others can only cast you as a bad person if you grant them permission. Don’t do it. Besides, God must not agree with their low opinion of you or He would not have called you in the first place.

Rise above it. If nothing changes, it falls your lot to suffer it out. Shift into a spiritual gear and soar above the conflict propelled by God’s grace and power. Smile at your detractors, love your enemies, and kill them with kindness. Sometimes we don’t get a free ride. We have to endure the heat and prove that the Holy Spirit really does live within us. Be better than your enemies say you are. Respect for you, and for yourself, will grow at geometric proportions.

Have you been hurt? Kneel before the cross for an attitude adjustment. Then get up and hurry back to your post of duty. There is still plenty of grace available to get you through.

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