One of the greatest hurts there is in the world is when you have been hurt in the church — that place where we go for instruction, correction, and encouragement. Many folks have walked away or turned their backs on the church because their spirits and hearts have been split straight down the middle as a result of being hurt by those who profess to have the love of Jesus in their hearts.
To be betrayed, set up, snapped at, lied on, told off, stabbed in the back or undermined by people in the church is a very hurtful thing. There are people sitting in the Lord’s house hurt and broken because of something that was done to them in the church. They can’t seem to get past it and when they try to take one step forward, they wind up taking two steps backward. They can’t even worship the Lord because it’s in the forefront of their mind.
God wants to heal your hurt. He wants to move you beyond yourself and set you free. Look if you will at Jacob and Esau — from the time they were in their mother’s womb there was a war going on and even at birth one had the other’s heel, according to Genesis chapter 25:24-26. Most of us know the story of how Jacob, along with his mother Rebekah, deceived Rebekah’s husband Isaac to give Jacob, her favorite son and the youngest, his older brother Esau’s birthright blessing (Gen. 27:6-10). When Esau found out that his own mother and his own brother deceived him you know he was a “hurt” man, and fueled by his emotions he said within himself and to others, our father is old, and when he dies I will kill Jacob for what he did to me.” When Rebekah finds out about what Esau said, she calls for Jacob and sends him away to her brother in Haran to stay for a while until Esau’s anger is cooled off (42-45). Jacob stays for a time in Haran but the time comes when he must face up to his responsibility and meet his brother. Knowing that he had “hurt” his brother and knowing that his brother had vowed to kill him, Jacob was filled with anxiety (Gen. 32:7). He was worried about the outcome of meeting his brother for the first time since the deception occurred.
Jacob was a victim of his own imagination. What he didn’t know was that God was working on Esau and while he was trying to figure it out, God had already worked it out. God had turned Esau’s heart and the grudge that Esau had against his brother had melted away, which opened the door for God to heal his heart. That’s what God wants to do for somebody today. No doubt, time and prayer had taught Esau that we only live one time, that time, prayer and forgiveness can heal any hurt, and that grudges only keep the wound open and stop the one who carries it.
As Jacob prepares to meet Esau, he bows to the ground seven times. Jacob was expecting a retaliatory spirit, but when they came in distance with each other Esau eagerly ran to meet Jacob and embraced him, kissed him, and they both cried (33:4). Community, look here — because of prayer, forgiveness, reconciliation, and God, Esau was able “to move beyond the hurt,” and God blessed him.
You see when we close our heart to hurt, we close ourselves to God. Prayer, forgiveness and God can heal your hurt.
The Rev. George T. Ellis is pastor of Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church.