Many people who seem to move through life without a care in the world are suffering from a lot more hurt than most of us realize. The smiles on their faces are covering a flood of tears in their hearts.
Some of the hurts which we receive are only minor in nature. They amount to nothing more than day to day bruises and need to be brushed aside as quickly as they arise. These kinds of hurts should require nothing more than a bandaid and a little time to heal. However, many of the hurts are far more serious. They cause great pain, and require a lot more than a bandaid to heal. They are more like open wounds and the pain they cause is deep and lasting. How do we handle these kinds of hurts? The way in which we deal with them will have much to do with their effect upon us. We want to consider three options available to us this evening.
I. We Can Internalize Them.
A. What does this mean?
1. We can grit our teeth, hold our chin up, and repress the pain we feel.
2. We can pretend that all is well when it really isn't well at all.
3. When hurt is internalized it usually causes resentment and bitterness to take root in our lives.
4. We become like a boiler whose valve has been shut off...it generates an enormous amount of pressure and can explode at any given moment.
B. The negative effect.
1. The hurts we receive can make us better or they can make us bitter.
2. Have you ever known someone who is bitter and always complaining?
3. It seems that nothing you do can please them.
4. They weren't born that way!
5. They have grown bitter because of hurts that have been internalized.
6. Like the man whose wife asked him how he wanted his eggs for breakfast.
a. He said he wanted one fried and one boiled.
b. When she served them to him he looked at them and grumbled, "You boiled the wrong one!"
C. Consider Mr. and Mrs. Job
1. God allowed them to experience the deepest kind of hurt.
2. The things they had worked for all their lives were taken from them.
3. Their herds of sheep, asses, camels, and their servants were all either destroyed or stolen away.
4. Then came the terrible news that their ten children had been killed by a violent storm.
5. Their whole world came crashing in around them.
6. Each of them handled the hurt differently.
a. Job went to the Lord in prayer and worship. cf Job 1:20-21
b. His wife apparently held in the hurt and grew bitter.
c. When Job's health was stricken his wife uttered those words for which she is remembered, "...Curse God, and die." Job 2:9
d. She could handle the loss of all of their material possessions because they still had what was most important, their family.
e. But when she lost her children it was more than she could bear.
f. And then when her husband's health was taken she exploded with bitterness.
7. Our hurts can make us better or bitter depending upon how we respond to them.
II. We Can Retaliate.
A. The Law of Retaliation. cf Lev. 24:19-22
1. This law provided for exact justice not for revenge.
2. Jesus Christ expanded on this in the sermon on the mount.
3. Note: Matthew 5:38-39
B. Why not retaliate?
1. It would mean that we must get down on the same level with the offender.
2. It would mean that we would have to violate God's clear commands in the Scriptures.
3. It would mean that we would be usurping the authority of God and taking His place as the administrator of justice.
4. It would mean beginning an unending cycle of perpetuating evil.
5. Someone said, "If we insist on living by an eye-for-an-eye kind of justice the whole world will go blind."
III. We Can Forgive.
A. The example of forgiveness.
1. We all know that Jesus Christ is our example in forgiveness.
2. Does God expect us to forgive like Christ forgave? After all He was the Son of God...surely God wouldn't ask that!
3. Note: Ep. 4:31-32
B. The expense of forgiveness.
1. Forgiveness isn't free!
2. Our forgiveness by God came at the expense of His Son's blood.
3. If I break your antique vase and you forgive me, the vase doesn't magically reassemble.
4. If you owed me a $1000 and I forgave that debt, I would still be out $1000.
5. Forgiveness doesn't repair the damage done, it writes it off.
C. An act of the will.
1. Forgiveness is a choice that we make...it is our decision.
2. It is a promise that we make to God and the person we are forgiving.
a. It means that we will never bring it up to that person again in a condemning way.
b. It means that we will never bring it up to another person at all.
c. It means that we will never bring it up to ourselves again to dwell upon it.
3. How can we do this?
a. Remember who we are and how much that God has forgiven us.
b. Choose in our heart to forgive, don't wait until you feel like it, you may never feel like forgiving!
c. Be kind and tenderhearted in all that we do.
d. Focus on what the person needs and not on what they have done.
1) Joseph and his brothers.
2) The prodigal son's father.
3) David and King Saul.
4. Practice making this promise and carrying it through.
5. Be ready to forgive...we shouldn't have to think about it or pray about it...Just do it!
There is no way to avoid getting hurt. They will come, but the question is how will we respond? We can choose to internalize the hurts and become embittered. We can choose to retaliate and escalate the situation. Or, we can choose to forgive! The choice is ours.