Wednesday, January 25, 2017

5 Benefits to Holding on to Hurt

A joyful heart is good medicine, 
but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Are you hurting today?  Is there someone in your life that has caused or is causing you pain?  Are you worn out from the brokenness and ready to give up?  Or maybe your pain has become a power source in your life.  It is pushing you to action that you never knew was in you.  

The hurt that comes from the sin of others is hard to get past.  It can frame our past and shape our future.  It produces loneliness and sorrow, frustration and bitterness.  It can become your identity and it can fuel your choices.  Either way, it's a hard way to live with this hurt.  As Solomon said, it can dry up your bones.

The question today is, what are you doing about it?  Are you a victim or is there hope of freedom from hurt?   To deal with hurt will take a lot of work and perhaps it's better to let the pain run it's course.  I want to share with you five benefits to holding on to your hurt.

Number 1 - Broken Relationships

Hurt breaks relationships.  When someone sins against you, and maybe they do this over and over and over, how can there be a relationship?  I once heard, "sin separates friends."  Yes, this is probably true.  To forgive someone repeatedly is a lot of work and truth be known, it's really not your fault.  It's much more time efficient to write relationships off and the fuel to do this is bitterness.  Even if they want to restore the friendship, what's done is done.  Too many years of hurt and pain will sever any opportunity for restoration, but there are plenty of other people to be friends with, plenty other people that you could marry, plenty of other people to pour your life into, so what's done is done.   Broken relationships are the consequence of the other person's sin, not the consequence of your bitterness, right?

Number 2 - Broken Identity

Hurt can change your identity.  Instead of seeing yourself as a child of the King, you might see yourself as the cheated on wife, or the rejected parent, or the mistreated co-worker.  When you are the victim of someone else's sin, the identity of "victim" can quickly replace who you are in Christ.  But being a victim is a good place to be.  It opens many doors.  It can fill many conversations and produce all kinds of sympathy.  It can even cause people to take sides and defend you.  It can be a comfort in times when you feel lonely, because it tells you that it's okay to be hurt - you deserve to feel this way.  

Number 3 - Broken Capacity

When you are broken and hurt by someone else's sin, that hurt limits you.  It ties your hands from doing what is right.  Sometimes it can lead to depression.  Sometimes it can lead you to avoidance.  Being a victim can limit your capacity - your capacity to trust, to love, to live.  When you've been hurt, you learn to guard your heart and not share yourself as readily as before.  You've learned a hard lesson and don't want to put yourself in a vulnerable position again.  And when you lose capacity, you limit your exposure to suffering - this is a good thing.  You have to think of yourself first because if you've learned anything, it's that you have to take care of yourself because you can't count on anyone else.

Number 4 - Broken Testimony

This is a hard one, but again, it's really not your fault.  When I hold on to my hurt, it is hard to promote the spiritual discipline of forgiveness.  I understand that God wants us to be forgiving people but that is a general instruction.  When you get into the specifics of each circumstance, God cannot possibly expect you to be able to forgive in EVERY situation.  So, since the specifics of your life are unique, holding on to the hurt is really your only option, but it's hard then for people to understand your love for Christ and lack of forgiveness.  What this does then is open the door for you to share even more with them how badly you have been hurt.  So in the end, I guess it really is helpful because again, you are focussing on your own healing process.

Number 5 - Broken Fellowship

This is the hardest of all.  This is why sin has a ripple effect.  Because you were hurt, mistreated or lied about, that makes it hard for you to forgive.  Because it's hard for you to forgive, God says that He'll forgive us in the same manner that we are forgiving others.  Now, that doesn't seem fair because as we've already established, our circumstance is unique, but there is implication that our fellowship with the Lord is broken if we choose to harbor bitterness and not forgive.  So maybe this one is not a benefit but instead it's a reality that as a victim I am once again stuck with...which seems to increase my hurt all the more.  

Okay, friends, I hope by now you are EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE with this blog!  Let me remove my tongue from my cheek and say this clearly:  The broken relationships, capacity, identity, testimony and fellowship is a consequence of our unwillingness to forgive - not because we've been hurt.  

Therein lies the good news.  And therein lies my next post:  5 Benefits to Forgiveness.

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