(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Overcoming People Wounds in the Church
By Michelle Ochen
Is this not the mindset we somehow carry with us when it comes to the Church? We laugh when we read that because we know that cannot be true; however, we somehow still carry a type of mindset like that around the Church, making the pain great whenever the opposite takes place.
It is certainly true that church should be the place we find the most loving and understanding people in our lives, but the reality is that people are people, and even at church we may be wronged by others. Often times, we carry the same misinterpreted mindset in our relationship with God too. We can think that because we are walking in accordance to His word that nothing bad should happen to us, but yet the trails and difficulties still come—sometimes even through people. The Christian life is not about staying pain-free, but about pain staining our hearts with lessons that nothing else could teach. God uses the pains of this life as opportunities for miracles. Difficulties are only unfinished miracles in our life; opportunities to see God work in His mysterious and unique ways.
So, what are we to do when people wounds come into our life? What do we do when someone in the church wrongs us and the pain stings a little deeper cause we think, “They should have known better”?
I am going to refer to a scripture verse that goes straight to the hard truth. Jesus addresses this issue when Peter came to Him feeling that he was giving a generous leniency.
Matthew 18:21-22 gives us the story of Peter asking Jesus how many times he ought to forgive “a brother,” one who should know better—seven times? I would say that is pretty gracious! We shun after we hear someone gossiping about us. Perhaps we forgive the first offense, but should it happen a second time, we struggle to forgive—imagine seven times! I, too, in my natural mind think seven times seems lenient, but not to Jesus. God’s heart is revealed to us through Jesus’ response, “Not seven times but seventy times seven.” Or, in other words, there is no limit to how many times believers are to forgive the offenses of another. It is easy to read this and disregard when wronged, but this is truth and the way God has called us to live within the Church. We are to forgive people wounds over and over again, despite the temptation to become bitter and hard by wounds.
Perhaps you are reading this and think, “Great, but I am wounded and hard, now what?” This difficulty is only an opportunity to see the Lord do what you cannot do in yourself. He is able to heal those wounds and soften your heart again. Try Him at His word. He is Jehovah Rapha (Exodus 15:26), the Lord your healer, and He is able to give a new heart, take a heart of stone and give a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Ask Him for the strength to forgive again and again and trust Him for the healing necessary for the wounds you carry. Within the Church, and outside the Church, wounds happen between people, but we serve a God who is unlike man—who can help us to live peaceably among one another and who can heal the pains caused. And, greater yet, if we allow Him to work in these things, we may just see miracles unfold