Relational Pain

Two of the most meaningful quotes I’ve ever read both consist of two words each. One is found in C.S. Lewis’s book The Problem of Pain: “Pain hurts.”

Pain hurts.

I’ve dealt with physical pain for a while now, but it’s also led me to experience emotional pain. I’ve had to emotionally process my physical pain, which, in some instances, has led to relational pain. Most people I know can’t relate to my circumstance–at least not in the same way. And sometimes when people don’t understand how you need them to respond, they end up responding in a way that hurts you even more, leading you to experience relational pain.

The topic of forgiveness keeps coming up in my life. From Taylor Swift’s new single that shows the result of her bitterness in relationships, to friends sharing with me their relational pain, to reminders of my own need to forgive others. The Lord has been teaching me how He heals our emotional hurts and how He stops the cycle of hurt.

But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.

Isaiah 53:5

 

How Jesus takes our hurt on Himself

He understands our hurt. 

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” John 1:10-11

Jesus came among His creation to show His love for His creation, yet the people whom He came to show love towards showed hatred towards Him. He faced the ultimate hurt by humanity. Because of this, He relates to our hurt. No one understands better than Jesus.

He is directly involved in our hurt.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

When injustice occurs on this side of the cross, Jesus has already died to cover all sins, including sins that are committed against us. Jesus is a third party in all situations in which people sin against one another because He paid with His life to free us from keeping records of wrongs.

He hurts with us.

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

This is the second of the most powerful, two-word quotes I’ve ever read. Before taking Greek 101, I appreciated the fact that Jesus mourned the loss of his friend, that Jesus also hurt. Now that I am a Greek scholar (just kidding- I got this out of a Greek New Testament devotional, completely written in English), I’ve learned that the Greek word in John 11:38 reveals that Jesus was more than deeply moved. The word “embrimaomai” in verse 38 means not only “deeply moved,” but also “scolding” and “sternly warned.”

“The truth is that your suffering not only grieves Jesus, it also angers Him deeply. He’s mad at sin, sickness, disease, and death for hurting you, His precious child.”

What more could we ask for than a Savior who is angered by injustice and “sternly warns” Satan not to hurt us?

How to stop the cycle of hurt

Remember that you yourself have been forgiven.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

In this season of life, the last phrase of this verse (“as God in Christ forgave you”) makes me roll my eyes. Come on, God! Forgiveness is unnatural to humanity. It doesn’t make sense in the eyes of the world. Yet the reminder that God forgave me for murdering His Son helps me (reluctantly) realize that forgiveness of others is possible. Not only that, but kindness towards those who hurt me is also possible, because God showed me the greatest kindness by offering me the gift of eternal life.

Tame your tongue.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:10

The world is listening to how we as Christians respond to hurt. The same ears that hear us sing praise to God on Sunday mornings are listening to our Monday-morning rants. The same Facebook friends that see our daily posts of Bible verses are also reading our political posts. (I’ll just leave that there.) Our hurt should not be followed by words that point away from our Healer.

Live loved.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21

I love how verse 19 begins: “Beloved.” You are loved. Because You are loved, God will make sure that justice is served. Revenge is not something we should worry about; God’s got this. Our job is to “overcome evil with good.”

As we learn to stop the cycle of hurt, God will transform us from victims to “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

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