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Hurt By Someone
by Elisabeth Elliot

What to do when you've been hurt and you feel sure you didn't "deserve" it?

Any who long for holiness must learn that it cannot be merely "bestowed" on us. Holiness is a lifetime process which requires suffering. Our human response is to avoid it in any way we can.

James, "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," writes in his epistle (James 1:2-4): "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

If you think of those who have most deeply influenced your spiritual life, you will discover that every one of them has suffered, often in ways which seem greatly "undeserved." If it is accident or illness we may label it merely "fate," but if it is wrong done to them by a human being it seems highly "unfair." Were you to ask them what they had learned in the deep waters and the hot fires (see Isaiah 43:2), they would tell you that they had recognized the testing of their faith, which had produced, through the grace of God, perseverance. That process is necessary for all of us.

Christ Himself experienced far more hurts, injustice and pure hatred than you and I will ever know. "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:7-9).

Dare we suppose we do not need the lessons of suffering? Shall we refuse to take up the cross and follow Him? The following is from my friend Arlita Winston. She calls it "the Balm of Gilead," four simple (not easy!) steps toward peace when we have been wronged-perhaps even outraged--and are convinced we didn't deserve it:

  1. Confess my [anger, hatred, desire for revenge, self-pity]. Both I and the one who wronged me now need the same Cross-the Cross on which our sinless Savior suffered.
  2. Repent. This is a 180 degree turn-around.
  3. Pray, "Wash me with Your blood, cleanse me."
  4. Bless the one who hurt you. Forgive him and bless him!

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (I Peter 4:12,13).

Suffering is a gift. "It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have" (Phil. 1:29). Fenelon (1651-1715) said, "Accustom yourself to unreasonableness and injustice. Abide in peace in the presence of God, who sees all these evils more clearly than you do, and who permits them. Be content with doing with calmness the little which depends upon yourself, and let all else be to you as if it were not."

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:17,18).

Jesus told us that if we want to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves (give up all right to ourselves), take up the cross (which is "no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us"-J.H. Newman), and we must follow Him. May He grant to us the grace to do these painful but wonderfully liberating things!

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