“Lord, I’m hurting this morning.”
Ever prayed that prayer before, or some version of it? I’m not talking about physical pain here—rather, about emotional pain. Especially the variety that issues from disappointing relationships.
You know, the kind of pain that feels like a knife in your heart. The type that leaves you confused, not knowing what to do, where to turn, who to talk to, or even if the emotions you’re feeling are legitimate.
It’s the kind of pain that really gets to you. Pain that makes you feel alone, isolated, and hopeless. Pain which seems like it’s too heavy to bear. Pain that pushes you into a downward spiral of emotional despair.
For many of the people who you rub shoulders with regularly, on the outside all seems well. But on the inside, they carry an overwhelming sense of pain. The pain of rejection. The sting of feeling invisible and not cared about. The weight of rarely if ever being on the receiving end of somebody else’s relational intentionality. Perhaps you feel like that today.
Jesus said: “He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted.” Jesus knows a thing or two about relational disappointment. Each of the twelve men He spent three years pouring His life into deserted Him at the most critical hour of His life. One of the twelve even handed Him over to the people who eventually killed Him. Jesus knows what rejection feels like. He gets what it’s like to be misunderstood. He understands your pain. He cares about your pain too. And He stands poised to bind up, or heal, your broken heart.
So . . . how do you access this healing Jesus stated He came to provide? What’s His part? What’s yours?
- Be gracious in the face of apparent ungraciousness toward you. Sometimes you know the intentions of another person’s heart. Often times, you do not. When you’re hurt, it’s easier for your imagination to run wild. You’re convinced the other person is hurting you on purpose. Occasionally, that is true. Often, it is not. Extend grace, even when grace is the last thing you want to give. Maybe the person who hurt you is oblivious to what they’ve done. It could be they are in a lot of pain themselves. Somebody has said: “Hurt people hurt people.” Even though it’s probably the last thing you want to do . . . extend grace.
- Love – even in the middle of your pain. Jesus said: “What credit is it to you if only love those who love you? Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Really Jesus? I’m supposed to love and pray for those who hurt me? Let me explain: Loving those who hurt you doesn’t mean you keep putting yourself in harm’s way. In fact, loving people who hurt you often calls for frank conversation with them. (See #3). If they are truly dangerous people, it will likely mean avoiding them. But the bottom line I think is this: The posture of love, graciousness, and prayer in the face of hurt protects you. It protects your heart and mind. It keeps you healthy.
- Communicate. Sometimes healing is helped along by talking to your offender about how their behavior is negatively impacting you. Again, this course of action needs to happen when and where it makes sense. If you decide to talk to the person who hurt you, choose your words carefully, thoughtfully, prayerfully. Tell the person(s) at the epicenter of your pain the behavior(s) causing you pain without embellishing. Stick to the facts and be ready to forgive.
- Don’t expect people to provide what only Jesus can. Much of our relational distress is rooted in wanting from people what only God can deliver. If we base our happiness on how people respond to us or don’t respond to us, we’ve jumped on an emotional roller coaster. Father God created us with the capacity to love and the desire to be loved. He knows best how to meet that deep desire for relational connection. When you’re in relational distress, pour out your hurt to Him. I’ve found over the years that Jesus is an incredibly good listener. Venting to Him can be incredibly therapeutic. In those unloading sessions, you’ll often hear Him whisper healing words to your heart.
- Giving you strength beyond your own ability. Good luck trying to do your part without His strength at work in you. Jesus stands ready and willing to give you power that exceeds your own. His promise to those who follow Him is He will never leave or forsake them. Jesus wants to walk alongside as you process your pain, and help you find strength you thought impossible.
- The actual healing. “He has sent Me to bind up (heal) the brokenhearted.” Jesus really does care about your hurt. I don’t always know why He doesn’t remove it immediately. I guess relational healing is a process most of the time. I do know He’s deeply compassionate. And He has the ability to soothe those inflamed places in your heart.
So, if you find yourself in deep emotional pain this morning due to relational wounds, don’t despair. Do your part. Invite God into your pain. Understand that ultimately, only He can meet the deepest needs of your heart. And then trust God to do His part.
I’m rooting and praying for you!