when living through sorrow and hurt

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Who of us in this present life doesn’t experience sorrow and disappointment, indeed hurt? It is a difficult world, and hard to escape hurt inflicted on others. In fact we too have hurt others. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise.

Grace, God’s grace is what is needed. And God’s grace is what we get not only aplenty, but in every conceivable way possible. After all God became one of us in Jesus to live right where we live, to experience all that we experience, including the hurt and sorrow that accompanies that.

And we’re told here in the letter to the Hebrews that he is therefore uniquely able to help us through that, since he knows what it is like firsthand. Our call from God in this is to come to God’s throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need, whatever we’re facing.

Just remember, Jesus empathizes with us in our weaknesses. There is grace, grace, and more grace. We need to just keep coming, yes, just as we are to keep receiving all the grace we need. God will always give us more and more. And in ways that meet us just as we are in all of our weakness. In our sorrow and hurt, in whatever we’re experiencing. In and through Jesus.

God’s redemption of the broken spaces

We had a most interesting, informative series entitled “Finding Hope in Family Conflict,” specifically on the story of Jacob and Joseph from Genesis. Anyone would do well to watch/listen to them all. A great ending, so although best to watch/listen to each, if you want to get something of it as a whole and just sample one, “Week 7/Family Reunion” might be my suggestion.

What came home to me in the last one, is how Joseph chose not to react in his hurt with hate and additional hurt inflicted on others, but instead trusted in God, and put himself in a place where God could heal him, so that instead of hurting, he could be God’s healing presence to others.

In Joseph’s case, though he certainly had some blame, as we all do in any close relationship, he was really the victim of wrongdoing by his brothers. In our case, it could be either that we were victims, or that we were primarily to blame. And many of us have both. The question for us all: Do we believe that over time God can redeem that suffering for our good, and for the good of others? Even if we were the one to blame, we can at least pray, submit, and trust in God, that God can do a redemptive work in it. God does, and God did, as we see in this story in Genesis. All of that in and through Jesus.

 

doing what is right and good regardless

What about the hurt and the difficulties we face? Sometimes we could easily withdraw or fly off the handle maybe by a word not in season.

No matter how we feel and how we express that to God (see the psalms) we do well to do what is right and good regardless. Yes, even in all of our weakness.

Sometimes the needed sense of grace and well being that accompanies that seems absent. It may be that we are simply overwhelmed with this or that emotion. We do well to lay low and reach out to others in love. To humbly take the low place. And to guard what we say. Especially reactions. Certainly we will need to guard our thoughts. Better, to ask God to guard our thoughts and our ways. That we may be pleasing to him in and through Jesus.

using trials and troubles for good

The goal of scripture could be stated in a number of ways. One way of saying it is for a community through Jesus to live in love with God and in that love with others forever. There are a number of results from that goal which are good, but secondary to it. One result for example are rewards God gives to his faithful by his grace.

Through pastoral counsel I’m receiving, I am beginning to learn to use at least deep hurts and troubles for good. I am seeking to use them as a way of seeking and drawing closer to the Lord. By them getting to know him.

It is easy for me, if hurt or disappointed, or tempted to despair to sink into depression and just be down to the point sometimes where it seems nearly unbearable. Instead I need to learn to bring those hurts, and indeed any trouble or trial to God, but especially to use those times simply to seek to draw near to God, so as to come to know God better. Of course to know Jesus is to know God. Hopefully in my woundedness to enter into his wounds and find his healing and love.

This is something new for me, and so far, so good. I want to grow in it. For me there’s plenty of opportunities over a number of chronic problems, and sometimes that problem that seems to come out of nowhere, to use them to more enter into this love of God in Jesus and communion with him. And out from that, communion with others in Jesus. I state this in my own terms, the pastoral response given to me in words which are much more eloquent and more attuned to scripture. We are in this together in Jesus, a significant part of this experience in Jesus and in his way, together for the world.

when old wounds are reopened

When what still seems to be fresh wounds are reopened, what do we do? I think we try to address the problem, in grace, but forthrightly. With an emphasis on gentleness and love. And we bring our pain before God. Like the psalmists, like Jesus himself. We must forgive, we can’t hold anything against anyone. If we understand something of our own hearts, that should help us readily forgive others, since we know that we too are in need of grace and forgiveness every day.

We want also to prayerfully consider where the other party is. Perhaps they have had a legitimate complaint concerning which we need to repent. Or perhaps they have an insight we don’t, though at the same time “insights” have all too often trumped what scripture says. When tradition, reason and experience take precedence over, or are even in put on an even par in authority with scripture, God’s voice in his written word, that is wrong.* Nothing is on a par with scripture, even though tradition, reason and experience serve to both grapple with and confirm its meaning and application for the times. We too need to beware that our “insight” is according to scripture.

In the end, we come together before God and through Christ. In the end all wounds of this nature in and through Jesus will be healed. Love will abound in righteousness, and righteousness will abound in love. Until then we carry on, praying the prayer our Lord gave us to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

*This insight (stated in my understanding of it here, if not as he wrote it) I gathered from Richard B. Hayes, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics.

don’t

I sometimes have written a post out of hurt and anger. Perhaps due to a legitimate wrong. Although much of the time we are wrong as well in some way, whether we know it or not. Often we are wrong in our response to the perceived wrong done.

I think an important lesson to learn, and hopefully to learn well is that when we know better, we should do better. Or simply put, don’t act out of anything less than love. Which oftens means don’t act at all.

Except we should pray. Pray for the one who did or is doing the wrong to us, for their good. And hold our peace, that is, speak not about it, even to ourselves. Yes, we should bring our anger or hurt to God. And by faith leave it with God. And keep doing so.

I have found significant good come out of this “don’t.” And the opposite, when I give in.

And as Jesus teaches us, we must forgive others, from our hearts, and not hold against them the wrong done. The only way of love in and through Jesus.