We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; GNT).
“Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-4; NLT).
Father, You bring good from bad,
And peace from every fear we have;
Truth from lies,
And gain from loss –
Help us to overcome our unbelief.
You bring light from dark.
For growth from pain, you hit the mark;
Love from hate,
And faith from doubt –
Bring gain from all our troubles, Great High Priest.
You bring life from death,
And comfort from each final breath;
Hope from grief, And joy from woe –
Your resurrection, Lord our God, is sweet.
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25; NLT).
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies (Psalm 103:2-4; NLT).
Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3; NLT).
Lord, You know how weak we are,
And all the wrong we do,
But, if we turn to you for pardon,
We’ll be born anew.
Lord, You know how weak we are,
How frail, our fragile flesh,
But, if we turn to you for healing,
We’ll be born afresh.
You know how weak we are,
How anxious, sad, and worn,
But, if we turn to you for rescue,
We will be reborn.
We turn to you: forgive us;
Heal our grief and pain.
Save our souls, and give us hope –
Then we’ll be born again.
Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away (Acts 3:19; NLT).
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalm 103:3; NLT).
O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved (Jeremiah 17:14; NLT).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3; NIV).
To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God (John 1:12-13; NLT).
This blog is about dealing with hurt feelings. In three short articles, it charts my learning over a period of several months.
1. My dilemma – written on 19.8.20.
Image: level17-design, Pixabay
The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me
(Job 30:27; NIV).
Introduction During the summer of 2020, two people hurt me badly, on separate occasions. I decided to be direct with them, and did so as lovingly as I could. However, both reacted to my feedback with anger and blame, and neither was willing to work together towards reconciliation.
My dilemma: Should I speak out, or say nothing? This breakdown in two significant relationships left me ruminating for many weeks about all that had gone wrong, generating a constant sense of dread. Sadly, this was not a new experience. Dealing with hurt feelings has posed a serious dilemma for me throughout my life: is it better to speak out to those concerned, or to say nothing?
What did Jesus say and do? As always, when I don’t know what to do for the best, I looked for guidance in the teaching and example of Jesus. However, he taught, and displayed, both outspoken and silent ways of responding to hurt, criticism, and injustice, which I have always found confusing.
For example, on one occasion he stated: If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them (Luke 17:3; NIV).
Yet he also said: If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; NLT).
So, what happens when I try to follow each of these two apparently very different approaches?
Speaking out Experience has taught me that when I speak out directly to someone who has hurt me, it almost always backfires. In response to my feedback, they turn on me with anger and blame, or end our relationship. I then react to their hostility with my characteristic endless sense of dread.
Saying nothing On the other hand, when I say nothing, I allow the other person to hurt me without protesting, absorbing the pain and damage, just as I did with my emotionally abusive mother. This makes me feel powerless, worthless, and depressed.
Thus, whichever approach I try, I generally end up feeling as if life is not worth living.
Forgiveness Fortunately, Jesus was absolutely clear that whether or not we speak out, we should always forgive those who hurt us. This applies even if they never acknowledge what they have done, and never apologise. Forgiveness gives me something positive to work on during the months of emotional distress which follow each time someone upsets me.
Conclusion When people hurt me, I see myself as having only two basic choices: to speak out, or to say nothing. Either way, the outcome is equally damaging for my mental health. Not knowing how to resolve this dilemma has plagued me all my life, and remains a serious problem to this day.
After writing the piece above, I began to talk my dilemma over with a few, trusted people for the first time ever. Gradually, my thinking about it began to change, as described in the next article.
2. My action plan – written on 30.8.20.
Image: Jackson David, Pixabay
If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God
(Matthew 5:23-4; NLT).
Introduction After writing the above article, I spent a long time working out how to improve my ways of relating to those who hurt me. From the insights gained, I gradually put together an action plan to follow whenever a crisis arises.
My action plan Rather than seeing my response as a stark choice between speaking out and saying nothing, I decided to tackle each situation in a series of stages.
Stage 1: Withdraw, pray, reflect When someone behaves unacceptably towards me, I will not confront the person involved immediately. Instead, I will simply tell them that I need time to reflect on what they have said or done. I will then withdraw to sleep on the matter for at least one night. Taking time out will enable me to pray, discuss the situation with someone I trust, and think carefully, before responding. This should help to prevent me from reacting angrily in the heat of the moment, with a high risk of permanently damaging the other person, our relationship, and myself.
Stage 2: Decide whether or not to be honest During the time out, if I decide it is pointless, or inappropriate, to speak directly to the person concerned, I need take the matter no further. Instead, I will work on praying for them, and forgiving them.
On the other hand, if I decide to tell the other person how their behaviour has affected me, I need to remember that they may have had no intention, or awareness, of upsetting me, and might therefore be very taken aback when I raise the subject.
Stage 3: Speak out briefly, and lovingly When I decide to give direct feedback, I will do so as briefly and lovingly as possible. I will remind the person of what they said or did, and be honest about how it has hurt me. Anything beyond this is superfluous.
Stage 4: Wait to see how the person responds If the other person reacts badly, there is no need for me to do anything further. We are all responsible for our own behaviour, and I can’t expect everyone to respond exactly as I wish. Instead, I will try to put the whole matter behind me, though I admit that I have always found this impossible.
On the other hand, if the other person reacts positively, and apologises, I will accept this immediately, forgiving them completely. We can then be reconciled, and the whole matter will be resolved.
Stage 5: Start afresh Finally, however badly things turn out, I can try to start afresh each day. Every time I find myself ruminating about what happened, I will remind myself that the matter is now closed, and that it’s time for me to move on.
Conclusion From now on, when someone hurts me, I have an action plan to follow. My overall aim will be to maintain a careful balance between being speaking out, preserving relationships, and protecting my mental health.
After finishing this article, I made further progress in dealing with hurt feelings, as described in the final piece of this series.
3. My further learning – written on 23.1.21.
Image: Manfred Antranias Zimmer, Pixabay
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves
(Philippians 2:3; NLT).
Introduction Despite my hopes, putting together my action plan didn’t make me feel any better about my two shattered relationships. I was still living with constant dread, which drained my already very limited energy. My sleep and dreams were disturbed, and I began to slip into depression. Clearly, my approach to dealing with hurt feelings was incomplete.
Then, one day, I suddenly realised that when I’ve been honest with someone about their behaviour towards me, and they have taken it badly, or stopped speaking to me, there is one more step I can take, in the hope of resolving the situation.
One more step I can write to the person concerned, saying how sorry I am about everything that has gone wrong between us. I can tell them that I’m praying for them, and for our relationship, and let them know that I long for us to be reconciled. Even if they don’t respond, I will then know that I have done all I possibly can to put things right between us.
This insight enabled me to write carefully and lovingly to the two people who had hurt me. To my delight, one responded with great generosity of spirit, though sadly the other did not reply. However, by sending these letters, I finally managed to stop ruminating about all that had gone wrong. In consequence, my abiding sense of dread slowly began to diminish.
The teaching of Mother Theresa At this point, I believed my action plan was complete. Some weeks later, though, I stumbled on Mother Theresa’s teaching about how to deal with exactly the kind of hurtful situations that had destroyed my peace of mind for so many months.
In her book, “The Joy in Loving” (Penguin Books, 2000), Mother Theresa offers brief but powerful advice on how to become more humble, and therefore more Christ-like. The wording varies slightly in different editions of the book, so I have amalgamated the most relevant points into a single list which hopefully maintains the spirit of her approach:
Do not dwell on the faults of others.
Accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.
Accept insults and injuries.
Accept being slighted and disliked.
Accept contempt, being disregarded, and being forgotten.
Be courteous, kind, and gentle, even when provoked.
Inspired by the simplicity and clarity of these teachings, I began to absorb and practice them. Not long afterwards a friend unexpectedly censured me for something which was not under my control. Feeling hurt, I began to defend myself, but quickly recalled Mother Theresa’s wise words, “Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.” I stopped speaking, and turned away. Overwhelmed by despair, I started to weep. To my friend’s credit, she quickly realised how much she had hurt me. She approached me, apologising profusely. We clung together for a long time in great distress, comforting each other. Eventually I was able to explain how afraid I had been of her sudden anger, and how much her words had upset me. I told her that I loved and valued her, and we were fully reconciled.
Humility, acceptance and courtesy This was a deeply healing experience, unlike anything I had previously experienced. Moreover, it was not followed by dread, or depression, which seemed little short of a miracle. I therefore resolved to adopt Mother Theresa’s approach of responding with humility, acceptance, courtesy, kindness and forgiveness whenever someone hurts me.
Conclusion These three linked articles have described how I resolved my lifelong dilemma about the best way to respond when someone hurts me. I no longer see myself as having a straight, binary choice between speaking out and saying nothing. Nor do I need a complex action plan that relies on how the other person reacts at each stage. Instead, from now on, whenever I am criticised or attacked, I will use the simple, humble approach encapsulated in Mother Theresa’s teaching.
To my delight, this completely resolves my original dilemma, as it is entirely in accordance with the spirit of Christ’s own words: Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also […] Then your reward in heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High (Luke 6:27-9, 35; NLT).
There can be no finer action plan than this.
My warmest thanks to all those who engaged in discussing this issue with me, especially Alan, Dianne, Rosemary, and John. Their contributions have been invaluable. Many thanks also to Ber, whose technical help and personal encouragement enabled me to write and organise this document.
He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness (Daniel 2:22; NLT).
1. You know I’ve been abused.
I’m traumatised, and scarred.
I’ve had to live with shame, dread
And depression. It’s been hard.
2. My physical and mental health
Have failed, time and again.
I’m sure my mother never guessed
Her rage would cause such pain.
3. Since then, I’ve tried to be
A Good Samaritan each day,
But now I see that I, too, was attacked
Along the way –
4. Stripped and beaten, left half dead,
Despised, passed by, ignored,
Then you drew near to care for me,
My Priest, my God, my Lord.
5. At last, I’ve grasped your promise,
And your plan has been revealed:
My suffering will end one day –
In death, I will be healed.
1. God has seen your abuse (Genesis 31:42; NLT).
2. The tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself (James 3:6; NLT).
No one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8; NLT).
The tongue can bring life or death (Proverbs 18:21; NLT).
They live wicked lives and they misuse their power (Jeremiah 23:10; NET).
You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences (Isaiah 47:7; NLT).
3. A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers (Luke 10:30; NIV).
4. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road (Luke 10:30; NLT).
By chance, a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side (Luke 10:31-2; NLT).
I am insignificant and despised (Psalm 119:141; NLT).
I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit about what happens to me (Psalm 142:4; NLT).
Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine, and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, “Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here” (Luke 10:33-35; NLT).
I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you (Hosea 14:8; NLT).
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess (Hebrews 4:15; NIV).
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT).
5. My eyes strain to see your rescue, to see the truth of your promise fulfilled (Psalm 119:123; NLT).
We receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:22; NLT).
This is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:6; NLT).
The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever ( Revelation 21:3-4; NLT).
Only God can turn the dark night into glorious heavenly light
1. Turn our suffering
Into perfect sight.
2. Turn our faithlessness
Into dazzling light.
3. Turn our sinfulness
Into eager care.
4. Turn our selfishness
Into joyful prayer.
5. Turn our enmity
Into healing rest;
6. And turn our dying
Into life eternal,
When we’ve faced
1. We long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering [and] wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us (Romans 8:23; NLT).
Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgement – to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind” (John 9:39; NLT).
2. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24; NIV).
Trust in God (John 14:1; NLT).
The Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29; NIV).
3. Just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21; NLT).
4. Turn from your selfish ways (Luke 9:23; NLT).
Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).
5. Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27; NLT)
The Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said: “You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence (Isaiah 30:15; CSB).
6. Those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life (John 5:24; NLT).
Our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53; NLT).
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25; NLT).
The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NIV).
May I catch your whisper
In the chatter
Of my mind.
May I sense your presence
In the beating
Of my heart.
May I glimpse your splendour
In the darkness
Of my soul.
May I know your power
In my weakness: Make me whole.
1. After the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12; NLT).
The Lord knows people’s thoughts; he knows they are worthless! (Psalm 94:11; NLT).
2. Rejoice in his presence (Psalm 68:4; NLT).
I am oppressed and needy, and my heart beats violently within me (Psalm 109:22; NET).
3. His brilliant splendour fills the heavens (Habakkuk 3:3; NLT).
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).
4. The Lord’s hand is powerful (Joshua 4:24; NLT).
In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh. […] Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; NIV).
Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are in agony (Psalm 6:2; NLT).
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others
and to give his life as a ransom for many
(Mark 10:45; NLT).
1. Would you forgo your hope of rescue,
So a foreigner is saved?
2. Or forswear your dream of freedom,
So a friend is not enslaved?
3. Would you renounce your chance of healing,
So a neighbour is made whole?
4. Or surrender your survival,
Just to save a stranger’s soul?
5. Would you resign your reign above,
So enemies are welcomed in?
6. Or face death by crucifixion,
Bearing many people’s sin?
7. Would you believe the Father’s promise,
Trusting you will rise anew,
8. And then give up your life for others – Just as Jesus did, for you?
1. Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).
2. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13; NLT).
3. Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).
4. Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; NLT).
5. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being (Philippians 2:6-7; NLT).
Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).
6. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8; NLT).
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24; NIV).
7. Those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! (Isaiah 26:19; NLT).
I trust in God (Psalm 56:11; NLT).
They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again (Mark 10:34; NLT).
8. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16; NLT).