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Do you know anyone like that? Or is that your story? Are you the victim of a wound inflicted by someone you love? A victim?
It does not have to be that way. Remember the story of Joseph and how he said these words to his brothers as they stood before him:
“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:15-21).
I once sold insurance door to door in poor areas of Louisiana. One of my clients was a family that lived in an old house on the other side of the tracks. Every month I would go to collect the insurance money, and we would sit in their living room and talk. One day I noticed that the clock was wrong. It said nine o’clock when, in fact, it was noon. I said nothing. But I saw the same thing the next month and then the next month. Finally, I said something to the husband and wife. Tears came to their eyes. “That was the moment our boy died 10 years ago,” they told me. The clock had stopped in their lives.
The pain of friendly fire is like that. It can stop the clock in your heart. This happens to Christians whom other Christians hurt and who fail to identify their pain with Christ. The clock stops. They go through life, month after month, year after year, and often church after church, but the clock stopped in their lives way back when they were hurt. Today it is popular to be a victim, but being a victim is not a good way to live ecause life cannot go forward when the clock has stopped at the point of your last betrayal.
Yet I wonder: Are you living your life with the clock stopped?
There is a Way
There is another answer. There is a way to healing. But I warn you, it will involve another kind of pain — the pain of Christ’s cross. Christ’s cross will bring resurrection, and the new life He brings will also make the clock start ticking again.
This is what we see in Joseph’s ability to forgive his brothers after they literally ditched him. Joseph identified his pain with God. In God the pain was intended to bring blessing. Being hurt by his brothers made sense. The pain of false accusation made sense. The trial of unjust imprisonment was good. The years of separation from his father were good for him. He was saying with David, “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil” (Psalm 90:15).
The power at work in the life of Joseph is what you need in order to get past this hurt. It is the power that was present in Paul when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). By embracing the pain that comes at him as a means of identification with Jesus Christ, Paul moves from victim to victor.
This is for anyone who is a believer hurt by another believer, for a loved one hurt by another loved one, for anyone feeling like a victim of another person, or maybe just feeling betrayed by life. In order for you to move from victim to victor in dealing with the pain of betrayal or suffering of any kind, drastic steps must be taken.
The hurt person, who is not embracing that pain as a means for God to do something in his life, is the person who is stuck and for whom the clock has stopped. He is not denying himself. In fact, the very thing he wants to do is feed his pain: “They hurt me, they said this about me, and I was offended.”
But Jesus says, “Take up your cross, follow Me, deny yourself, whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
We want to think about cross-bearing as physical pain, and it is. We also want to think about taking up our cross as standing up for truth and maybe taking some hits for it, maybe even being a martyr for it. Throughout church history many have done so.
But the context of the cross is betrayal. The context of the cross is the pain of being hurt by those close to us.
Zechariah 13:6 speaks of “the wounds I received in the house of my friends.” This is the pain you may feel in your heart. This may be where you are living today.
God does not call us to live in distrust, but to live by faith in Christ. It is not that I implicitly trust all men; it is that I trust God in all situations. And this makes life sweet.
Will you say, “I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and share in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may rise again”? Will you believe that though “they” meant it for evil, God meant it for good? Will you go on and live this risen life that Christ offers you right now?
(excerpted version of Dr. Mike Milton's booklet Hit by Friendly Fire: What to Do When Christians Hurt, reposted from Ministry & Leadership, Spring/Summer 2011, Reformed Theological Seminary. The full booklet can be ordered at http://mindandheart.com/ProductDetails.aspx?a=1556359284)