Have you ever been hurt by the church?
This week has been a major lesson to me on how to deal with the anger, hurt, and disappointment that overwhelms when those supposed to be your spiritual leadership lets you down.
The anger has threatened to overwhelm me. I haven’t been angry like this for a really long time, and figuring out how to deal with it as a Christian has been really hard. What I have learned is that anger has masked my hurt. Proportionally, the more hurt I was underneath, the more angry I felt. And anger so overwhelmed my heart, I could hardly talk to God – and certainly had no business in speaking to any one else, as what I had to say wasn’t Christian or godly in the least.
Anger was appropriate. But holding onto that anger is not. The longer I am angry, the more I can feel it festering in me, just inviting in sin and welcoming Satan to wreak havoc in my life. I am not able to minister the way God is asking me because of the situation – my anger is causing me to worship my own self-righteousness instead of worshiping God through my actions and fulfilling the tasks he lays before me.
Jesus says forgive. The last two days I have realized the effect my anger is having and have prayed desperately that God would help me forgive. This morning God spoke to me of grace. He showed me that church leadership, though called into career ministry, is just as broken as we are. We expect more of them – and they are held accountable – but we must also remember that they are just as in need of grace as we are, too.
God reminded me of their brokenness and of my own sin, that I might have grace and see that I may not have any self-righteousness in my heart – that in itself is sin which needs grace.
Do not let anger get a foothold in your life. You must let it go. Practice every day saying out loud the words, “I forgive [insert name here].” Pray every day that God would reveal your own need for his grace, that you may not stand in ego and self-righteousness, but have grace to forgive as you have been forgiven.
Secondly, God has repeatedly asked me this question: “Do you believe I am who you say I am?”
I stand in front of students and teach every single week that God is sovereign, he is good, he is faithful, and he is worthy of our trust. Even when the events of our lives go to crap, do I still believe that to be true?
And I have to answer with a resounding, “YES.” Which means that God is in control of the situation, he is still working for my good in it, he is still faithful to all that have been hurt by it, and he is still worthy of our trust.
Since that is the case, do I really have a right to be angry? If I know that people are broken and make mistakes, that God forgives them in those mistakes, that God is still able to use those mistakes for His glory and good purposes, why am I angry? Shouldn’t I be excited for the new adventures, the new experiences, the new relationships that are going to come from this?
Lastly, God is one of reconciliation and redemption. Through Him, all things are possible. Broken relationships, hurt and devastation by sinful people, can be healed with God’s redemptive power of reconciliation.
You see, I realized today that Satan is having a field day – throwing a party and reveling – in the chaos that is overwhelming lives in our church today. If we let him, he will use this to tear apart immature faiths and relationships that God is using for His good. If we hold onto our anger and hurt, Satan will use it to destroy. We simply cannot allow it. We must practice forgiveness – every day work to forgive until you have fully forgiven – we must give God our hurt and allow him to redeem and reconcile. (That does not always mean the relationship continues! If a relationship is toxic or mentally/physically abusive to you, forgive but discontinue that relationship immediately!)
Acknowledge the schemes of the enemy. Jesus came in a time when the people of Israel wanted him to destroy their enemy, Rome. But Jesus came and named the true enemy: the Prince of Darkness, Father of Lies, the Destroyer. Put your anger and hatred onto the one who deserves it, recognize the brokenness of people. Give people your grace, and give Satan the finger. He is the true enemy. Do not allow your emotions to give him the opening he wants to destroy you and God’s church with his lies and evil.
I am hurt. I am broken. I need God’s help and his grace every day. But I am choosing to let God work miracles in places that need healing and refusing to let Satan have his party.
It’s time to rain on his parade. God bring the rain.