In Part 1 I made an obvious statement, that there are people in the world, lots of them, who are hurting. But that wasn’t the point. Stating that fact isn’t any more helpful then saying there are hungry people in the world. It’s nearly useless. So the point wasn’t to draw attention to the seemingly never ending supply of hurting people. The point was to understand that there are those among the hurting that are drowning in a pool of deep despair. Those that no matter how hard they try, just can’t seem to make it to the edge to hold on, so they can find relief, if even for a moment, from the waves of hurt crashing into them. They feel helpless and that only makes hurt worse. That was part one.
I’m not a counselor or a social worker. I’ve provided counsel at times, but I’m no professional. I haven’t done clinical work and the only understanding of psychology or counseling I have comes from a high school psych class and two master’s level pastoral counseling classes. All that equates to just enough knowledge for me to suggest that you pay a counselor if you need that kind of help. I do know that one of the more common responses to hurt is for the person to hide it away, pretend they’re fine and quietly struggle with it. Mostly this is a defense mechanism to prevent any further hurt. What I’ve also seen is that hurt people hurt people. I know that because I’ve been that and I’ve seen others in that place. I’m sure that it isn’t always intentional, but that doesn’t lessen the sting of it. That’s just the way it is. People that are hurting tend to hurt others that come close to them. Because I’m not qualified to give legitimate reasons why this might be, I’ll speculate for a moment. Maybe the saying, “misery loves company” is truer than we want to believe. Maybe some hurting people hurt others because they need or want others to feel their pain. Or, maybe some hurting people are so consumed by their hurt that they’re oblivious to how others are affected. Maybe it’s on purpose, maybe it isn’t. Since I’m not a professional, I’ll defer to the one thing I do know and believe to be true; scripture. I think hurt people, hurt people because “hatred stirs up strife.” If I can postulate that, then pain stirs up misery. If anger begets anger, then hurt begets hurt.
If you’re hurting and reading this, this post isn’t for you. Keep reading, though. I want you to know what you should be looking for, but the rest of this isn’t intended for you. If you are hurting, I’ll just say this. I’m sorry you’re hurting. God doesn’t want you to hurt. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I hope and pray that there is someone in your life that can help bring relief and can introduce you to the One that will. I suppose the entire series is written for those that aren’t currently hurting and more specifically, Christians. We’re the ones with the responsibility for proclaiming Hope to the rest of the world. I think delivering that message starts with those who are hurting.
As Christians it’s important to understand that hurt people hurt people. People that are hurting, especially if the church at large contributed to that hurt, may say or do things that appear hurtful. Mostly it isn’t personal. Even if it is, our response should be to reach beyond the “hurt begets hurt” cycle and offer a gentle response. We exist for the purpose of healing not hurting. Paul sounds it out clear when he says, “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” God helps us through our hard times so that we can help others through theirs.
Even though we’re commissioned by Jesus to love others, we can’t force it on them. We may well know that what we have in Jesus is for the hurting heart, but that doesn’t mean that the hurting person will always welcome you as their hero. It takes patience and continued gentleness. I’m not saying that YOU personally are the answer to the answer to the world’s woes, that’s Jesus, but you can be the answer to someone’s woes. If someone in your sphere of influence is hurting, be patiently gentle with them, offering your hand to help and your shoulder to cry on. And try not to be shocked or offended if it’s rejected. It probably will be initially, remember that they’re hurting, so be patient with them.
I’ll end with this, we don’t cause hurt. Using The Word to belittle or demean someone is wrong, even if you do it under the guise of “calling out sin.” I’ve written a lot on that topic, but calling out sinful behavior has to start INSIDE the church. The bible wasn’t given to push people from God. It was written to reveal Him to ALL of humanity. If not for all, then it’s useless. If hurt people hurt people, then healed people heal people. We’re healed people. Healing is as much our game as love, grace and forgiveness are.