Anybody involved in ministry – paid or volunteer – will probably face difficult times at some point. Folks who claim to be Christian don’t always act that way, and church pain can be some of the deepest pain there is. On the other hand, many of us have learned that the passing of time has a way of helping us:
- It allows us to see the positives without being distracted by the negatives. Time allows us to separate the two and not miss the positives. That’s a great step toward healing.
- It grants us space to forgive. It’s tough to forgive when you’re in the middle of the battle, but it gets easier when the battle is past tense.
- It gives us more of God’s perspective. The closer you are to the pain, the harder it is to see how God might use it to honor Himself and grow you. Time buys us an opportunity to see the pain from God’s view – and to see what He intended to do through it.
- It helps us to see there’s always more to the story. Sometimes the people who hurt us were non-believers or seriously undiscipled believers. At other times, they simply had wrong information. We seldom know in the moment all that motivates somebody to cause anguish.
- It grants others time to consider their own actions. I’m always amazed when the Lord brings healing and forgiveness across the miles and across the years.
- It prepares us to minister to other hurting people. As God brings us through pain, He gets us ready to shepherd others through similar pain. He does not waste the anguish we face in life.
- It pushes us to consider our own role in the pain. Seldom are we completely free of responsibility in church pain, even if our role was minor, unrecognized, or unintentional. God has a way of forcing all of us to look at our own heart even years after the fact.
- It helps us to trust Romans 8:28. God uses all things – including seemingly undeserved church pain – to conform us to the image of His Son. Sometimes it takes a while to trust that truth, though.
- It forces us to face our idolatry. If we choose to stay bitter and unforgiving toward someone who hurt us, we place our pain above the God who calls us to forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15). That’s idolatry – and time will show just how bitter we’ve chosen to become.
- It allows us to work through the grief cycle toward reconciliation. Church pain is real. It stings. And, it often results in some kind of loss – like wounded friendships. In time, though, we can work through grief in the power of the Spirit and seek to repair the brokenness.
Maybe you’re still waiting for God to bring healing to your pain. If so, trust the God who reigns over the clock and the calendar. He’s not worried about what worries you.
Let us know how we can pray for you.