By Pastor Shana Wise
Matthew 18:7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
Who has ever been offended by others in your local church?
Have you ever experienced pain so deep that it still bothers you today?
Any problems with forgiveness?
Do you know anyone who was hurt so bad in the church that they stop coming to church, or even turned away from God?
Has the pain you experienced in the church made you to be stronger in your faith or weaker? Why?
A few points:
· Church attendance is at the lowest of all time in America.
· Many scandals have happened and are still happening in the church. From mishandling of money (stealing, leaders getting rich off the congregants), sexual sins committed by leadership (adultery, pedophilia, molestation, physical, verbal, and mental abuse), cults, and the list goes on.
· Some have been so bruised in the church that they completely stopped attending and because of the actions done to them, they have turned their back on God.
· Most people who have hurt others in the church are unaware how their actions affected the one they offended. Some hurt others due to their internal known or unknown weaknesses not necessarily evil intentions.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Share personal testimony.
· Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools every believer possesses.
· Forgiveness is more for you than the other person because it brings forth inner healing.
· Meditate on Matthew 6:14-15 (God’s commandment to forgive), Matthew chapter 18 (How Jesus dealt with offences amongst his disciples), Luke 23:34 (Jesus forgiving while dying on the cross)
2. Stop Looking Back and Dwelling on It
· In Genesis 19:26 we see Lot’s wife looking back on the city (Sodom and Gomorrah) that God was burning up as she and her family were running away. She turned, looked back, and turned into a pillar of salt. God does not want us to keep dwelling on the past to the point that it hinders us from moving forward. God had a better life and future for Lot’s wife, but she could not let go of the past and because of it she missed out on her blessing.
· Do you find yourself still replaying the hurt over and over again in your mind? Has it hindered you from moving forward? If so then:
A) Take time every day to surrender it to Jesus
B) Confess that it still hurts
C) Admit that you need help
D) Feed those negative feelings and emotions with positive affirmations and the Word of God
E) Keep moving forward by trusting and obeying God despite of what you’re feeling
F) Repeat until you are not only healed but made whole from the hurt
3. Learn How to Move on Without an Apology
· This can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcoming church hurt. When someone comes to us and admits that they have wronged us, it brings validation to our feelings. However, often times we will never receive that apology that we think and know we deserve. We must learn how to “be ok” without an apology-and that can be hard. If we find ourselves struggling without getting an apology from the one who offended us here are a few tips:
A) Remember what Christ did on the cross. Had forgave those who never asked for forgiveness. He never received an apology from the ones who mistreated him or even conspired to get him to the cross. We ourselves, often sin against God and never says “I’m sorry”. BUT THANKS BE TO GOD FOR GRACE!
B) Grace is something that was given to us freely by God AND we must learn how to extend that same grace to others. To learn how to “be ok” without an apology will bring us to a deeper understanding of the grace factor in our own lives.
C) The next time someone offends you and does not apologize for their wrongs, think about grace, release the offence and forgive them. Say out loud, “I forgive you for hurting me in the name of Jesus”.
4. Look What God is Doing in Your Life Right Now
· Reflect on all the good things that God has done for you since you were offended. When those past ill feelings come up, deflect them to what God is doing now. We serve a NOW GOD, and he is doing new things in our lives daily.
· Write about who or what has hurt or offended you. Write about all the wonderful things God has done for you since then. Compare the two lists. If your list of offences outweighs or overshadows your list of what God is doing now, then that may be a sign that some healing still needs to take place.
· God is doing a new thing in your life. Meditate on Isaiah 42:9, 43:19, 48:6, 2 Corinthians 5:17
5. What are God’s Thoughts About it?
· We are quick to get into our feelings when someone else offends us. Yet, do we ever step back and ask the question, “What does God have to say (or what is his view) about the situation?” Isaiah 55:8-9 states.” For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. We must learn how to discipline ourselves to take EVERYTHING to God in prayer AND listen for a response. God is always able give us a different outlook on things because he is Holy and he is the only one who knows the hearts of his children.
6. Learn to Be OK with God Separating You from Others
· Church hurt can be a tool that God uses to separate us from other people. Since God is all knowing and our future is in his hands, he can use the perceived “hurt” to propel us into our next destination.
· Every tree needs to be pruned in order to grow and keep producing more and more fruit. God has his way of pruning us (church hurt, separating us from others, disciplining us, etc.) to get the fruit he desires out of us.
· Joseph and his brothers, Moses and his family (natural and adopted), David and Saul, Abraham: Hagar, Ishmael, and Lot, Paul and Barnabas, Jesus and the disciples are all examples in the bible that showed God separating them because of the fruit that needed to come forth individually (they had their own destinies to fulfil).
· If you have experienced hurt through the separation of yourself from others, take time to think, “Is God preparing me for something else?”
7. Keep Your Feelings Before God and Encourage Yourself
· 1 Samuel 30: 6-8 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. 7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them? “And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”
· In the passage above we see David greatly distressed. The people he was leading wanted to kill him (they were blaming him for their problems). Yet despite David’s hurt (feelings, emotions, and personal pain), he focused his attention on God. He chose to pray to the Lord and wait for an answer.
· This is a good passage for those who are leaders in the church or their community. Everyone loves you when things are going well, but as soon as things turn, it seems like “all hell is breaking loose”! Everyone wants to find someone to blame-and it usually falls on the leader. Leaders in the church will always have a larger target on their back than anyone else because of the position. Like David, you must learn to keep your feelings, emotions, hurt, and pain before God. The followers are looking for a response and in the midst of crisis you still have to lead by example.
8. Admit Your Wrongs in the Situation and Be Open to Correction from Man and God
· Sometimes church hurt comes to expose our weakness and/or any sin that we are committing unknowingly. Everybody thinks that they are “right” when a disagreement or offence arises (Proverbs 21:2), yet maybe we are actually the ones who need correcting.
· Correction and discipline that comes from God and others does not feel good when we have to go through it, but it is vital for our growth in Christ.
· Read and meditate on Hebrews 12: 3-11 (God’s Discipline).
9. Allow God to Heal You
· Psalm 107:20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. God will heal all hurt through his word-if you let him. The healing process takes more than just reading and memorizing the word; it takes our faith, belief, and trusting in it for it to manifest in our lives.
· So many of us have not been able to overcome church hurt because we refuse to let go and let God. We must surrender our will to His and let Him heal us, His way, through His Word.
10. Know That He Has Worked It Out For Your Good
· Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
A) God is growing us through the hurt.
B) God is teaching us despite the hurt.
C) We are still standing after the hurt.
D) God’s glory is being revealed through the wounding of our flesh (church hurt).
E) We overcome the hurt because Christ did on the cross!
Overcoming Church/People Hurt Activity Sheet
1. Write out in detail a past or current people/church hurt that you are dealing with.
2. Write notes on what the Holy Spirit is revealing to you during the presentation.
3. Enter the name of the person(s) that you need to forgive:
THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, IN THE NAME OF JESUS, (PERSON, PLACE OR SITUATION THAT HURT YOU) __________________________________________________________, I, (YOUR NAME) ____________________________________ FORGIVE YOU.
4. Write out a prayer/decree in regards to you moving forward from church/people hurt. Pray frequently until you experience your breakthrough/deliverance. Journal if needed.
About the Author
Dr. Shana Wise is an ordained Pastor and CEO of Wise Choice Ministries (est. 2016). She is the founder of The Well Christian Women’s Network formally known as Christian Women Preachers United. Dr. Wise is the author of women’s devotional, Acts of Intercession, and The Impact of Your Election (available on Amazon). She received a doctor of divinity degree in 2019 from St. Thomas Christian University. Her passion is to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, equip others to apply the Word to their lives, and demonstrate the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is a televangelist that appears on social media outlets and television. Shana is married to Ron Wise and is the mother of four children.