OUCH, Lord, You’re hurting me! I’m supposed to be learning how to heal, not learning to suffer more.
Have you been there? Have you been to the point where you’re so angry at God that you don’t even want to have anything to do with Him?
A few years back, my heart was really hurting. My heart was hurting for those who were hurting! It seemed like everywhere I turned, friends of mine were going through struggles of many different kinds.
I have had my share of suffering. My husband and I lost 2 children; and then experienced heartache-after-heartache through the raising our remaining son with cerebral palsy. Plus there are still a lot of issues which happened to me through my childhood and teen years that even now sometimes hurts to think about. I knew I was healing somewhat, yet the pain often still was so very real.
That gave me the idea of writing a short Bible study, which I called “Healing Hurts.”
When I told a counselor friend what I’d named it, she started laughing – she totally understood what I meant. Because healing can often hurt a lot, can’t it?
The first week of my Bible study there was a group of about 10 gals who sat down with me at our home. As I gave the outline, we laughed together, and shed a few tears. Every single one of them had layers of hurt they’d gone through, and we all wanted to experience the healing that only Jesus can give.
But after that first week, one gal dropped out. She was going through a painful divorce. When I finally connected with her to ask why she no longer wanted to be in the group, she stated:
“I’m not ready to heal.”
At first I thought that was very strange. But the more I pondered it, the more it made sense. Because sometimes it’s easier to keep holding onto all the pain, rather than continually digging up all the hurt.
Sometimes you even use your suffering to make others sympathize with you; or use your pain to continue hurting the person who has caused the throbbing in your heart in the first place.
The Bible is full of examples of people who have gone through terrible times of pain and suffering. Much more than I can even imagine.
a) I think of Moses who really thought he was doing the right thing in coming to aid of one of the Hebrew slaves when he killed an Egyptian who was beating him (Exodus 2:11-15). But then his fellow countrymen turned on him, and he ran for his life, ending up hiding in the desert for 40 years. Gone were his days of living the plush life in Pharaoh’s castle. Instead he ended up caring for sheep, until God called him to a huge assignment in confronting Pharaoh (Exodus 3:1-10).
b) I can’t even imagine all the thoughts that swirled through Abraham’s head when God told him he needed to go and sacrifice his one and only beloved son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-10) – after waiting for so many years for him to be born! Yet in spite of the anxiety he was bound to have inside, he willingly set out to obey, until God stopped him and explained the reasoning behind His request (Genesis 22:11-20).
c) There was the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus in front of a crowd of men who wanted her to be stoned to death (John 8:1-6). This story has always captured my heart because we really don’t know anything else about her. Was she a prostitute, or had she been trapped, believing the man she was sleeping with really loved her? And where did that particular man disappear to? Was he there among the crowd? The ridicule she must have experienced! Yet Jesus turned the tables on those men, freeing the woman forever from her shame (John 8:7-11).
d) David, who was to become the next king of Israel, had to run for his life off and on for many years because the current king (Saul) wanted to kill him during his jealous mad rages – even though David had done nothing wrong, and always treated him with respect. He ended up having to hide in cages and even pretended to be insane at one point because of his fear (1 Samuel 19-24). Yet in the end he became the most beloved king of Israel. As a matter of fact, God called David a “man after His own heart” (Acts 13:22).
e) Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-20) and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25) were both ridiculed and disgraced because they had been unable to bear children for years. Back in those days barrenness was considered a source of great embarrassment. But then God, in His perfect timing, answered those women’s prayers by providing beautiful sons who became mighty leaders of God: Hannah’s son Samuel became a great prophet for God (1 Samuel 3:19-21); and Elizabeth’s son John the Baptist became the forerunner for Jesus Himself (Mark 1:1-8)!
f) The Samaritan woman had already been married 5 times – and by the time Jesus came to her she was living unmarried to another man. Because of her shame and loneliness she would travel in the heat of the day to gather water from Jacob’s well, hoping no one would see her. She was an outcast among her townsfolk (John 4:4-26). But Jesus sees our pain and heartache, and He went out of his way to come to her, turning her sadness into excitement. She became a beloved daughter of God (John 4:39-45).
g) Jeremiah was called by God to prophesy against his own countrymen when he was still a teenager. His nation was falling deeper and deeper into sin, and God wanted Jeremiah to warn them that severe judgment was coming if they didn’t repent. Jeremiah didn’t feel qualified for the task, but obeyed, trusting God to take care of him like he promised (Jeremiah 1:4-19). And indeed he needed to keep being reminded of those promises when throughout his 40 years as a prophet he was thrown in jail, beaten, ridiculed and threatened constantly. Yet through it all he continued to see the Lord’s faithfulness in taking care of him (Lamentations 3:22-26).
h) Peter was riddled with guilt because he had turned his back on Jesus, his Lord and his friend. He even denied knowing him, after swearing to Jesus he would never do so (Luke 22:31-34; 54-62). His heart was breaking; yet God’s love for him was unchanging. And, after the Holy Spirit came upon the believers, God used Peter mightily to preach the gospel to crowds of thousands, turning him into the great leader that He knew he could be (Acts 2:14-4:31).
i) And, of course there’s, Job, who lost his family and everything he owned – then got covered with painful sores all over his body (Job 1:1-2:10). To make matters worse, when his “friends” came to visit him they ended up making him feel worse because they were sure all those things had happened to him because of sin in his life, which wasn’t true. Yet in the end, God blessed Job more than he ever could’ve ever imagined; and gave him a new fresh insight as to who He was (Job 42:10-17).
As I’ve continually read and studied over and over again all the accounts of these heroes who were tortured, suffered and ridiculed, I found myself marveling because of God’s grace. His healing touch came to all of them in order to bring them to where their lives turned into glory; in effect to help us all when we find ourselves flat on the ground, wondering whether we can ever get up again and heal.
And, I think if you were to ask those heroes of faith, every single one of them would say that the pain they endured through their struggles was well worth it. Why? Because not only they did help them mature and grow into the men and women God wanted them to be, but also because their true-life stories are there to help and encourage us when we feel like we’re being beaten up by life.
That is why after I did that Bible study with that lovely group of women, I came to the point where I believe the Lord told me I needed to put that study into a book form. It was hard, however, and took me many years to get to the point where I figured out how it should be done. But it finally got published, and true to the Bible study I had written previously, I called it “Healing Hurts.”
Friends if things are going well for you right now in life, praise God. But when you get to those times when you feel like life is tearing you apart, please always remember that God knows, and He loves you more than you can even imagine. Open the Bible, or grab a copy of this book and allow God to speak to you through your pain – He will! Or, do this short book as a Bible study with a friend!
Let me end this post with a favorite benediction from Numbers 6:24-26:
May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the LORD lift up His countenance toward you and give you peace.