It just really hurts.
When someone lies to you, breaks your trust, lies about you, lets you down or doesn't believe you, it just really hurts. You may feel alone or want to be left alone, but the truth is, every one of us has experienced this. I could spend needless space giving examples, but you know what I am talking about. You have experienced it. But there is another side to the story. The other side is the side we tend not to think about and that is this: Each of us has, in some way, contributed to someone else being hurt. We didn't intend for it to be this way, the circumstances were beyond our control, we didn't know it at the time, we didn't have all of the facts, etc. Regardless, we've done it too.
So, what do we do? Let's talk first about being hurt by and disappointed in others. How do you handle that? Seriously, if you don't handle that rightly, it will handle you cruelly. If you massage that hurt, review that hurt, feed that hurt, assume more hurt, build walls around your heart so that you are never hurt again, you will simply starve your heart and it will shrink into a hard little stone that will result in you being the very person who deeply hurts others. You won't care because, in your heart, it is justified. So yes, this is a very big deal. I will ask again, how are you handling it? Are you keeping a record of wrongs done to you? Are you justifying your attitude, your jadedness, your causticness, and your isolation? If so, let's go a bit deeper. How's that working out for you? Has that solved anything? Do you find Jesus sweet and his gospel attractive? Is your heart full of joy, and do you love to sing and pray? Do you want people to know about Jesus, or do you just want them to know that you have been hurt?
Can I dig a little deeper? Was Jesus ever hurt? Did he respond like you are responding? Did he ever have reason to walk away and not come back? Of course he did, but he didn't. Aren't you glad that he didn't? So, do you have to be like this? Do you really want to be like this? Does this really help? Can you believe what the gospel says about others--that everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? Can you give people some space? Can you recognize that you may not have all of the facts? Can you be willing to forgive, ready to forgive, and desirous to forgive? Jesus is.
But, what if you are the one (and we all are) who has contributed to the hurt of others? Do you minimize it? Do you excuse it? Do you defend yourself? Have you taken the time to consider how others are affected by your responses? Do you really believe that you have nothing to learn, that you really know it all, and that your assessment is perfect? Do you really think that you have the right to be judge, jury, and executioner? Are you willing to consider how much your words and attitude have contributed to an atmosphere of coldness and indifference? What are you willing to do about that? Are you willing to be humble? Are you willing to ask God to help you see what you need to see, what you don't want to see, and probably don't see? Are you willing to learn about yourself, even if it is hard to hear? Are you willing to ask for forgiveness and mean it?
This life is characterized by hurt. But, as people of the gospel, we need to help one another--we really do. We need to ask each other good questions about our hurts and be willing to listen to others help us with our blind spots. This is what healthy believers seek to do with and for one another. It is not easy, but it is worth it. Jesus is worth a beautiful bride. He is worth the effort of having relationships that are characterized by love. I really don't know all of the details in your life, but I know life has a lot of details, and many of them are made up of things I have written about. Let's ask the Lord to help us take this to heart, that we may care for others better, and in so doing, be the aroma of life in the mausoleum of this world.
Grace and peace,
Sunday's text: Acts 16:11-40