When someone hurts us or even irritates us, it’s easy to react in an ungodly way because we want to defend ourselves and protect ourselves. We point the finger at him or her, thinking that takes the focus off of us–just in case we might be deserving of what they did or said. It even feels justified to be “hurt.”
Does it sound too unfathomable to hear that it is possible to not become “hurt” by the actions of others? I think for some, and it has for me in the past, seemed impossible to not react with hurt. (OK, it’s still a challenge!) After all, if someone does something hurtful, shouldn’t I be hurt? They hurt me! They hurt my feelings! They rejected me! There’s a litany of situations where being hurt seems like the only option. And unfortunately, hurt turns into resentment, bitterness, and anger.
But, believe it or not, being “hurt” can be prevented by living with the perspective of godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is when we’re more grieved over the sin or dysfunction of someone else than trying to defend or protect ourselves. Godly sorrow is when we are more concerned about the healing and joy of the other person, rather than making sure we don’t look bad or are never hurt again. Godly sorrow will even put ourselves at risk for the good of the other person, rather than withdrawing and making sure we don’t experience any more pain.
Godly sorrow is only possible if we believe God has our back; if we believe that He is the source of our every true need. Godly sorrow is most difficult when the person who is “hurting us” is a perceived source of joy, love, or some other need.
Of course, Jesus is our example of godly sorrow, as He is our example of every good thing. A good story is in Matthew 16: 22-23. Jesus has just told his disciples that He will be killed and then rise again. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (NASB).
That is godly sorrow! Jesus could see the heavenly battle occurring, the influence upon Peter and Jesus reacted to the influence and the battle not to Peter. Jesus could have been “hurt.” He could have thought, “Oh, that Peter! He makes me feel so bad. He just doesn’t understand me, even after all the time I’ve spent with him. I’d hoped my training would have made more of an impact. That really bothers me. That hurts my feelings.”
I trust you’re smiling. We can’t even imagine Jesus having any of those reactions or thoughts. Not even close. Guess what? We’re supposed to be like Jesus! Jesus never got his feelings hurt! He never took anything personally! Isn’t that amazing? That blows my mind. He saw the heavenly battle going on and He addressed that instead of attacking Peter in order to protect His own reputation and feelings.
Do you recognize that Satan (or his minions), are trying to get to you through some of the people around you? And he most often uses those who mean the most to you or who represent something that is valuable to you. If that person’s valuable opinion of you or an accomplishment on your “bucket list” is withdrawn, it’s easy to feel hurt. The rejection and disappointment fuel our ungodly reaction of pointing to them as doing something wrong or casting blame, etc. It feels like it’s all about them, but it’s really a defensive and protective ungodly, yes! sinful response.
How would Jesus’s example of godly sorrow correspond? Can we first believe that God is sovereign and allows only that which is for our good? Can we then care about the needs of that person or whatever is best in that situation rather than focusing on us? This is a hard assignment but it has everything to do with believing God is good and trusting God’s goodness.
Next time, I’ll share another way to reach out in godly sorrow. In the meantime, can you share anything about being hurt or godly sorrow? Can you think of a biblical story of godly sorrow? HINT: there are several even in the Old Testament!