Exchanging Hurt for Joy

Lord, do you care that I’m still bleeding?

A fresh wound left me groaning in pain…struggling to get past the hurt…wondering how on earth I’d get over this.

Have you been there? Disappointed. Wounded. Bleeding emotionally. The injury inconceivable. Where did that come from? How could anyone be so cruel?

It happened. It’s unchangeable. Now…what can we do with the hurt? How can we go forward in joy?

God gave us a plan for overcoming hurt. He called it forgiveness. But obedience doesn’t come easy.

Like a ball of dough in my hands, I turn the dreadful memory over and over in my thoughts, punching and tugging every detail, pulling in tattered feelings, trying to make something good from it all. I lay it down and let it rest a moment while I gather a few ingredients of truth.

  • God saw this (Psalm 35:22).
  • He has a greater purpose in mind than my comfort.
  • I identify with Christ when I am despised, rejected, grieving (Isaiah 53:3).

It’s time to work the dough again–practicing what I know about forgiveness. Jesus said, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV).

That’s irritating. Somebody mistreats me and I have to do the forgiving. Believe me, I’ve examined the forgiveness principle from every angle, trying to find a loophole. The facts are clear: my receiving forgiveness is conditional, leaving me no choice but to extend forgiveness, whether the offense is trivial or titanic. Two huge truths prepare my heart to forgive:

  • People who offend me don’t know what they’re doing. On the cross, Jesus–almost in his dying breath–prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34a).
  • The offense is against God, not me. Throughout Exodus and Numbers, the Israelites complained to Moses and his brother Aaron about their circumstances. Moses said the Lord “has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord” (Exodus 16:8).

I prayed, Lord, I don’t feel like forgiving! I don’t even want to try! But I want to please you. I’m asking you to deliver me from anger, bitterness, and the pain of this wound. Work in my heart the miracle of forgiveness. Fill me with your love so I can love as though I’ve never been hurt.

And He did.

(Adapted from Cabbages and Kings–Reflections on Living Abundantly in Christ)

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