Mark Twain observes a truth through his character, Huck Finn: “human beings can be awfully cruel to one another!” to which I add a hearty, “amen.” Jesus bore the whole of man’s cruelty towards Him, when He above all others, was righteous and powerful to stop it in its tracks. Sadly, there was no distinction between the Gentile world which carried out the punishment, and the people of God who demanded punishment. Yet, Jesus carried the cross of pain cruelly inflicted on Him, in part, by His brethren. How do we deal with God’s people, especially, who hurt us or continue to hurt us?
Turn your face upward and focus on the Father. As Jesus died on the cross, three of His seven sayings were prayers. Three of them were statements of grace for others. One of them was simply a personal request/statement. That’s a good formula! Jesus never took His eyes off His relationship with His Father. When you’re hurt or hurting because of the work of someone else, don’t hurt God or your relationship with God!
Think deeply on this, “be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26-27). Your anger has a place, yet find a place to sit and evaluate the anger dispassionately, otherwise it might consume you or others! Ask “who is the object of my anger?” “What have they done?” “Where does it hurt the worst?” “When is the right time to deal with this?” “How can I best handle this anger to God’s glory?” “Why do I want to deal with this anger in a healthy way?” When tempers flare because hurts abound, let God temper our tongues and let Him be glorified (Rom. 12:19-21).
Beware the poison of bitterness. The worst way we can handle our hurt is to let the hatred, malice, and pride take root in our lives and poison us (Heb. 12:14-15). Bitterness is corrosive. It rusts everything around you until you only look at a person with a tainted view. You will never look at them the same, never speak kindly to them, never forget that painful hurt! It’s like drinking rat poison and waiting for the “rat” to die!
Have a heart ready to forgive. Jesus told the parable of the king and his servant who owed him an insurmountable debt (Matt. 18:23-27). It was indeed a account uncollectible. What benefit did the king have to hold on to this debt? Instead, the king said, in the essence of compassion, “I’ll take the loss and forgive and release this man from his obligation to repay what he can’t repay.” When we forgive like that, we release the person, but also ourselves from demanding payment for the hurt we’ve endured.
Be honest about next time. If we live any longer here on this earth, the hurt you endure and have endured WILL come again in different forms from different people. Yet, consider also how they might also come from us: “Master, is it I?” You cannot control the time, place, occasion, or people involved, but you can know our Savior endured for our good, and we can be committed to enduring for good (Gen. 50:20)!