Church hurt. We’re all familiar with that term these days. The past few years have been filled with story after story of hurt, harm, and even severe abuse at the hands of trusted churches and leaders. If you have been a part of any local church body for any length of time, you have probably experienced some form of hurt. It may have been something that you were able to easily move on from or something that has caused almost irreparable damage.
I met with a sweet friend recently for lunch. We used to attend the same church. I transitioned to a new church almost five years ago. We hadn’t seen each other in years until her family recently visited my church.
During lunch, we had the usual catch up conversation. And then we moved on to talk about how our seasons at our previous church had both ended. The details were a bit different, but the center of it was the same. In many ways and for many years, we both had invested our whole lives into to the work of the church. We served. We gave. We led. We showed up early and stayed late. We did so out of our love for Jesus and for His Body. We did so not expecting compliments or compensation.
But in the end, there was a lack of care for us in our times of need. There was no generosity directed our way. There were no prayers offered up on our behalves. There was no concern for our well being. There was no one showing up to be the hands and feet of Christ to us.
We each walked away hurt and angry and disillusioned by the group of people that we believed to be family. When we are wounded by those we consider family, it hits us differently than an acquaintance or stranger. It hits deeper and lasts longer. My friend and I have walked an all too familiar road that many of you have walked.
It’s a long road, full of questions, doubts, worry, and tears. But, this road doesn’t last forever. There is actually a light at the end of this road. It’s the light of hope. It’s the light of Jesus.
Several years later, my friend and I are further down this road, further into the light, further into hope. She and her family took time together and let the Lord bring healing. They are now on a journey with the Holy Spirit to find a body of believers where they can belong, be equipped, be encouraged, be loved, be challenged, and serve.
The way forward down this road isn’t quick or easy, but it is filled with the grace of God. His grace empowers us to not be overwhelmed by our suffering. His grace equips us to learn how He desires His Body to function. His grace enables us to not become bitter at His sons and daughters. And His grace shows us how to show love and grace to those who have hurt us and to those in His Body who have had nothing to do with hurting us.
I began thinking of how the Lord has walked me down this road of healing over the past few years. I want to be able to share the truth of His Word that has brought such hope and healing to me.
There are several Scriptures that remind us that the Body of Christ is one Body, but made up of many members. First Corinthians 12:12 says, “For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.”
The older I get, I know that we are never called to live life with Jesus entirely alone. We are called to live in community as Jesus did. He lived with parents and siblings. He lived in a town. He lived with the twelve disciples as they did life and ministry together.
Jesus experienced hurt from people throughout His whole life and yet He never wavered in His call to be in community. He never let bitterness or offense or anger determine His level of involvement with His Bride. He loved unconditionally and served joyfully despite what His human feelings may have been leading Him to do.
Colossians 3: 12-16 describes the Christian life: “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
Regardless of what others do to us, we are not responsible for their actions. We are only responsible for our own. This looks like not seeking revenge or slandering or gossiping about people or churches or ministries. It looks like praying for them and showing them kindness even when we don’t want to. It looks like being patient and forgiving when it’s easier not to. We can share our pain with trusted friends while still showing honor to those who have caused the pain.
Even though there are times when I’m not crazy about people, I know I need them. I know that God’s heart for us is to be in fellowship with one another. Though hurt may come, we also know that Jesus has suffered all that we have. We can rejoice in the fellowship of His sufferings.
If you have walked through any form of hurt from the Body and need healing, I’d love to pray for you! Leave a comment below.