An angry man starts fights and gets into all kinds of trouble – Proverbs 29:22
People hurt people. It’s a fact. Unintentionally and, maybe, every now and then on purpose, we hurt others, and they hurt us. How we process that hurt can deeply affect our happiness in life. Mishandled hurt morphs into anger and resentment, emotions that as Proverbs 29:22 reminds us get us into troubles of all kinds.
For insight into how to recover from hurt, who better to look at than the biblical figure Job? Who has had more hurt inflicted on him than Job? In one day he lost his vast wealth, all 10 of his kids were killed, his wife turned against him, and he was afflicted with an excruciating, incurable disease. Then his friends showed up and instead of offering consolation they said, “It’s all your fault.” Job had every reason to be resentful, but it says he worked through his pain and got on with his life. How’d he do that?
He started by admitting his hurt: “If my misery could be weighed, if you could pile the whole bitter load on the scales, it would be heavier than all the sand of the sea!” In other words, he said, “God has dumped the whole works on me.”
When we have painful things in our past – a parent’s abuse or absence, a former spouse’s unfaithfulness, a deserved promotion we never got – sometimes we say, “I just want to forget about it.” But have you noticed how these things keep resurrecting themselves? Little incidents trigger stuff we thought was buried, and the searing pain returns. On the other hand, as somebody said, revealing the feeling is the beginning of healing.
So Job’s attitude is, “I don’t like it; it’s unfair; the situation stinks; and I’m PO’ed…with you, God.” He told God exactly how he felt. Ever try that? “But I don’t want to hurt God’s feelings. Besides, he might fry me with a thunderbolt.” He didn’t fry Job. Hey, God was aware of Job’s feelings as soon as he got angry. And God understood. Somebody says, “Where were you, God, when my son died?” God says, “The same place I was when my Son died on a cross.” God knows about hurt and he invites us to share our pain with him.
Another thing Job did, he forgave his offenders. His so-called friends misunderstood him, criticized him and falsely accused him. We understand how that hurts. Job had every right to resent these guys. But the turnaround in his life didn’t come until he gave up this right. He even prays for their success.
You know, sometimes the hurt can run so deep we think, “There’s no way I can ever forgive them.” I’m sure some of us have been there. Fortunately, Jesus says, “I can help you with that.” The one who forgave those who crucified him offers us his divine power to let go of the feeling that “but they owe me.”
Finally, we see from Job’s story that after we admit the pain and let God fill us with forgiveness, we can face the world again. I’ve found, as you may have, that a deep hurt can lead to an overwhelming urge to never let down our guard again lest somebody take advantage of us. And we can withdraw into a shell. But Job’s example teaches us that we’ve got to stop letting what happened in the past define us as a victim, start facing the future, and get on with living.
In the final chapter of Job’s bio it says, “God blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than he had blessed the first!” The memories faded and the pain along with them, and the rest of Job’s life turned out to be the best of his life. God says it can be that way for anybody who’s willing to let go of past hurts.
Dr. Jim Furr