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It’s true what they say – hurt people hurt people. Since we’re all born with fractured and dark hearts, our intentions, speech, and actions divide, separate, and damage other people. We’ve all been on both sides of the coin, some to greater degrees than others, but we can all probably think of times we’ve hurt others, and we’ve definitely found ourselves as the victim of another person’s sin.

The Power of Our Brokenness

Honestly, it only makes sense that broken people living with broken people in a broken world results in even more brokenness.

I’m convinced we don’t even know how much power we hold to cut down, wound, and affect the souls of other people. I believe it takes time and God’s pruning of our hearts to start to understand the darkness of our flesh and the power it holds to damage others. In the meantime, we underestimate how deeply we can affect one another. 

On the flip side, we’ve all been hurt by others. This is evident in the way kids treat each other. With less filter and experience to know what to do or not do socially, children seem to have a particular knack for cutting each other to the quick. Most often, the hurts we receive from family and our peers as children are the wounds that continue to affect us throughout our lives. Many adults, when they find their lives falling to pieces, are able to trace their deepest pains back to times in childhood when other people hurt, overlooked, neglected, or abused them in some way. 

Devastated By Others

It is not an enemy who taunts me-

I could bear that.

It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me-

I could have hidden from them.

Instead, it is you- my equal,

My companion and close friend.

What good fellowship we once enjoyed 

As we walked together to the house of God…

..My enemies refuse to change their ways;

They do not fear God.

As for my companion, he betrayed his friends;

He broke his promises.

His words are as smooth as butter,

But in his heart is war.

His words are as soothing as lotion,

But underneath are daggers!” –Psalm 55: 12-14,19b-21

Maybe just reading David’s words above makes you think of a time when someone close to you as hurt you. If you’ve ever been devastated or betrayed by the actions or speech of someone else, it was likely someone close to you, whose friendship or relationship was or still is important to you. At times, the acute pain we experience at the hand of people we love seems unbearable. 

Devastating To Others

When I was in 5th grade, a girl named Melissa joined our class at school. She was pale and freckly and nervous. She desperately wanted to make friends and fit in – we were the same in that way. It’s not that I have anything against pale skin or red hair, but I instantly disliked her.  She felt like competition in my safe and secure little circle of friends. And having been hurt by friends quite a lot already in my short life, I’d learned early that putting other people down can sometimes be your ticket to elevating yourself in the eyes of people you want to prove yourself to. 

I remember changing for gym class in the locker room with my best friend, Elisabeth, the second day Melissa was at school. Thinking no one could hear us, we began making fun of her. I started listing off all the things I couldn’t stand about her –

“She’s so annoying. She’s loud, obnoxious, awkward, she laughs at everything that ISN’T funny…”

I was still mid-sentence when the curtain to our shower stall flew open and Melissa stood there, fuming at us. 

“You don’t have to whisper. I KNOW you’re talking about me.”

She said it angrily, but the hurt was pouring from her eyes.

I remember that moment – the tone of my judgemental voice, the look on her face, the shame, guilt, regret, and sadness I felt instantly – all of it, like it happened yesterday. Fueled by my own insecurity, fear of losing my place, and the desperate need to control my own friendships, particularly with Elisabeth, I’d hurt someone who was in a much more insecure position than I was. 

Hurt people hurt people. 

It might seem like a small occurrence; kids are jerks every day. Oh, how we underestimate the damage one moment can inflict. Melissa and I, not shockingly, never became good friends. I don’t know how that moment affected her long-term, but I know how certain brief moments where I was in the same position I put her in have shaped me, small as they may seem when I recall them. And it’s sad – she and I probably could have been good friends. We lived close to each other. We both loved basketball. We both were loud and loved to laugh a lot.

Brokenness can keep us from each other relationally, starting very young.

What Can We Do?

What can we do when we’ve been hurt by others? What can we do when we realize we’ve hurt someone else? These themes run deep, which is why book after book has been written about them, and why redemption is a core theme of Scripture. Every hurtful situation is unique to the parties involved, and reconciliation is more possible in certain scenarios than others.  But I think there a few profound principles that can be touched on, even in the briefness of this article:

Healing is God’s to give:

Brokenness is made right by God alone. Healing always comes from Him, not from anyone else. If you’ve been hurt, the person who hurt you can’t fix you. And if you’ve hurt someone else, you have no power to right that wrong.

You and the other party have a part to play in redemption:

Although we cannot heal each other, we still have a part to play in the redemption that God desires in relationships. Even if you never interact with the person who hurt you again, your journey will be one of forgiveness. If you are the offender, you may or may not be able to reach out to apologize, depending who, when, and in what way you hurt them. Your part to play will at a minimum be one of acknowledging your sin, repenting before the Lord, and trusting God to heal the person you’ve wounded. 

God’s aim is to bring beauty out of every brokenness:

Whether you are the wounded or the wounder in any given circumstance, take confidence in knowing that God is the redeemer of all things, and he will bring beauty out of the brokenness we cause or feel. This isn’t a flippant excuse; it’s our only hope in a world where we as people inevitably injure each other.

Christ’s Healing

The biggest comfort we have in hurts is Christ Himself. He cares when people are hurt by others. He longs to bring justice when He sees people oppressed. When He was on earth, He described Himself as the one prophesied of in Isaiah:

“..the Lord has anointed me to

bring good news to the poor.

He sent me to comfort the brokenhearted 

And to proclaim that captives will be released

And prisoners will be freed.

He has sent me to tell those who mourn

That the time of the Lord’s favor has come,

And with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.” – Isaiah 61:1b-2

Jesus is the one who has, does, and will bring ultimate restoration and redemption to every hurt we’ve ever received or inflicted. The fact that our hurts matter to Him is the beginning of healing itself.

What God Has Done, Does Now, and Will Do

Obviously, we continue to live in a broken world. God has not yet made all things new. What can we hope in as we struggle through our relationships and the hurts within them? 

Once, long ago, Jesus said this: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4 

And He is the One to do it. 

He has taken action against our brokenness, He brings beauty from brokenness now, and He will ultimately redeem relational brokenness forever:

Obviously, we continue to live in a broken world. God has not yet made all things new. What can we hope in as we struggle through our relationships and the hurts within them? 

Once, long ago, Jesus said this: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4 

And He is the One to do it. 

He has taken action against our brokenness, He brings beauty from brokenness now, and He will ultimately redeem relational brokenness forever:

Jesus dealt with relational brokenness at the cross: 

Jesus took care of all sin, hurt, and human brokenness by his death on the cross. Although God has yet to bring it to complete fulfillment, the power of all darkness was shattered that day. 

“It was our weaknesses He carried;

It was our sorrows that weighed him down.

And we thought  his troubles were a punishment from God,

A punishment for his own sins!

But he was pierced for our rebellion,

Crushed for our sins.

He was beaten so we could be whole.

He was whipped so we could be healed.” -Isaiah 53:5-5 NLT

Jesus took the punishment for each time you’ve hurt someone so that forgiveness can be extended to you. And He atoned for every sorrow and pain you’ve experienced so that you might walk the way of forgiveness toward others.

Jesus brings beauty from relational brokenness in this life:

One thing in life is certain for those who walk with God – He works all the events of this life together for their good. This means that nothing, absolutely nothing you do or that is done to you is irredeemable. God longs to bring beauty from your relational pain and use it to sanctify and bring about healing, even here in this life. 

Jesus will redeem relational brokenness forever:

Ultimately, our pain, as believers, will be short-lived. That sounds flippant in the face of deep relational brokenness, but the reality is that our lives will pass, and when God sees fit He will make all things new and right- including all the pain we’ve been involved in with other people. 

Relational brokenness is real, painful, and unavoidable in this life. But because of the unexpected beauty our Savior has, does, and will bring about – we have hope of healing.

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