We talk about the real hurts of the Church, but we don’t often think about the hurt the shepherds and their families endure. When I was eleven, my parents planted a church that became true family to us. I saw my parents hug the hurting, counsel the congregation, feed the flock, and—nurse the wounds they received from them.
See, the hurt goes both ways.
My brother is my pastor now. Being a ministry leader for many years, I have dealt with the pain when someone leaves for “greener pastures” just like the pastoral staff does. It’s not fun even if an offense isn’t involved (e.g. relocating).
My Story of Dealing with Hurt
Another family had left. One of the staff passed me in the hall, “I don’t want to do this anymore!” The depression, tears, and anger were a heart-wrenching mix. The hurt was fresh. I understood.
I have overheard similar reactions from pastoral staff many times. That time was no different.
My heart flashed back to that day when I was kneeling bedside, clutching the bedspread in front of me as if it were a teddy bear. You don’t care what strange positions you’re in when you’re processing a broken heart. Decorum departs when you’re weeping. I was weeping because I had “lost” another sister.
The attachment started many years ago. A new family came with a young daughter. We formed a bond almost immediately. I’d give her gifts for holidays. We talked every service. It seemed like God gave me a sweet soul to cherish and call my little sister. The problem? Not everyone agrees with what the pastor says 100% of the time. I don’t know what it was about; I just know when her parents decided to leave there was no goodbye. Years of friendship suddenly gone. Unfriended on Facebook. A little sister void—again.
Months later, we accidentally crossed paths at a mutual friend’s party. We were more than cordial, and we sat next to each other and caught up. She called me her sister again, and I felt my heart pump with an odd mixture of joy and sadness. I knew nothing had changed, and tomorrow would be the same as yesterday. That night is when I found myself on my knees grieving her friendship and the many others I had lost through senseless church squabbles.
God reminded me that day that He bottles every tear (Psalm 56:8). I drew small comfort from that in my emotional state as I supposed there were many bottles with my name on it. I didn’t like those “bottles” I’d been driven to. God brought me through “rehab.”
This works no matter who you are:
Finding Healing Through Three Doors of Prayer
- Allow the healing process to begin. God not only bottles our tears, but He gives a specific promise to the brokenhearted. Activate His promise by laying your hand on your heart and praying this verse:
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3 ESV
Pray: Ask God to heal your heart.
- Obedience is the bridge that takes us from hurt to healing. God says to forgive others. I know, that’s the last thing you feel like doing when your heart is in pain. But when you do it, say it, and pray it out of obedience—whether you feel like it or not—the hurt decreases every time. Will the pain decrease to the point of disappearing? Yes! Also, you’ll discover that your feelings will come in line after that; you’ll eventually want to love the person who hurt you and forgive from your heart.
Pray: Tell God you forgive him/her.
- Follow Jesus’ pattern of forgiveness. Remember how He prayed for the Father to forgive them while He was on the cross? He was demonstrating love in His prayer because He didn’t want any wrongs they had done Him to affect their relationship with the Father.
Pray: Ask God to forgive him/her.
Whenever I have suffered deep hurt, I have “gone to rehab.” It’s not been an easy process, but it gives me hope and healing. When I walk through these three doors of prayer, I find my healing is complete.