IT'S OKAY TO HURT
Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8
Years ago there was a popular saying, "Real men don't eat quiche." Quiche was for girls and sissies. Since I think of myself as a real man, I shied away from eating quiche...even though I secretly liked it.
Did you know Christians can somehow get that same mentality? "Real Christians don't let things bother them." If you are a real Christian... if you are really walking with God, you will rise above anything and everything... and nothing will hurt you. Oh really?
When I was a sophomore in college, I thought I was a spiritual giant. Although I was a relatively young Christian (I had been saved only two years), I was really soaring in the Christian life. I was memorizing Scripture, witnessing on a regular basis, leading a Bible study, and experiencing the Lord's presence and power in my life. And, I was selected to be the student leader for our college department (about 150 students). This was a great honor... one that I was nervous about and excited about all at the same time.
The nervousness came because the student leader of the college department had to get up in front of the crowd every week and give announcements. Just the thought of that scared me to death. I would get so afraid on Sunday mornings that the end of my tie would bounce up and down as my heart was literally beating out of my chest. I did not like being the center of attention (still don't) and greatly feared saying or doing something that would cause me embarrassment.
MY WORST NIGHTMARE!
It was my third Sunday to give the announcements. We had an exceptionally HUGE crowd that Sunday as the students were back from Christmas break. Shawn, the former announcement guy who had just graduated and moved away was also present that day. Shawn was a hero of mine... so cool and so much further along in the Lord. I told him I was nervous about getting up in front of everyone, and I was claiming a verse my friend Beth had given me, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Jos. 1:9).
With fear and trepidation, I got up to speak that morning. Within two minutes, Shawn got up and interrupted me. He said, "Schreve, you're doing this all wrong. You haven't even greeted the visitors yet. And why are you so nervous?" Then he read the verse that Beth had given me. (I could not believe he was using my verse against me.) The crowd howled with laughter. They thought it was the funniest thing. Then Shawn told me to sit down as he would take over for the rest of the announcements.
Shawn did not mean to hurt my feelings. He was just trying to be funny... and the crowd thought it was funny... but it was all I could do to not burst out in tears. My worst nightmare had become a reality.
I went home that day and just sucked it up. I gave it to the Lord and tried to act like it was no big deal. I mean, real Christians don't let stuff like this hurt them! How could a little thing like that hurt a spiritual giant like me? If superman is able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, surely I could jump over this with no problem.
LATER THAT NIGHT
After church that night, the adult leader of the college department, Everett, talked with me privately.
"Jeff, how are you doing?"
"Not so good," I said. "I don't understand why this is bothering me so much. I mean I am a strong Christian... I am trusting God. This should not affect me at all... yet I am struggling with it."
He said, "Well... If I were to punch you in the arm, would that hurt?"
"Yes," I said.
"Does that mean you are not a strong Christian if that hurts?" he asked.
I said, "That has nothing to do with being a strong Christian."
"That's right," he said. "Today, you got punched in your emotions, and it is okay to hurt."
And the tears I had been holding back began to flow. I was hurting so deeply.
I learned that night that I was not quite the spiritual giant I thought I was. I learned I had a long way to go spiritually before I could take off my glasses and put on my Superman cape. And I learned that was okay! God did not expect me to be the Apostle Paul in two years as a Christian. God was working on me... and it was okay to hurt. You see, God works through the hurts of life. And real Christians do get hurt... and it is okay to hurt.
Maybe you have been hurt by something or someone that has really knocked you for a loop spiritually. Maybe you have caught a glimpse of how weak you really are... of how much you really need to grow. What do you do with that knowledge? Consider it all joy!! God is working. Trust Him. Pour out your heart to Him. Give Him your hurts. Quit stuffing them down and pretending they don't exist. Let them out and let Him bring healing and grace. You will be so glad you did.
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast. Click here to become a ministry partner.