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From Hurting to Healing: 3 steps for moving from a place of Pain to a place of Freedom.

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

In the midst of experiencing hurt, we must consider that the possibility exists that our pain might not be grounded in something that actually occurred but in what we perceive has occurred. Sometimes we have not been wronged whatsoever but somehow all the surrounding evidence powerfully persuades us to believe that we have been hurt. If we simply assume that we have all the evidence when in fact we do not we could be walking around with unforgiving feelings in our heart unnecessarily. The biblical account of Mary and Joseph will help us to see this point more clearly.

Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married but during the engagement period, Mary became pregnant and Joseph knew the child was certainly not his. As a righteous man, Joseph knew that sex before marriage was dishonoring to the Lord and he did not have sexual relations with Mary (Mathew 1:25). Now, I know you are very familiar with this story and you know that it was the Spirit of God who had miraculously impregnated Mary and the child born was our Saviour, Jesus Christ. However, I want you to consider for a moment how Joseph must have felt when he found out that his fiancé, the woman he loved and wanted for himself, was pregnant for someone else.

Pain can knock on our doors in a variety of ways and we all have experienced, at one level or another, it’s deleterious effects. I believe one of the most painful experiences one could ever have to deal with is betrayal. Being betrayed tends to be markedly harrowing because that usually comes from someone who is close to you. Joseph felt betrayed by Mary. Mary was the woman he wanted as his life partner. She was the one to whom he devoted his time, energy, resources and life. She was the one he consistently prayed about. He remained sexually pure before the Lord and was filled with excitement that he was going to become one with Mary. After investing all his emotional energies in Mary he finds out that she’s pregnant, and he knows the child is not his. This is pain, real pain on many levels.

We can all identify with how Joseph probably felt, but more importantly, we must learn from his response to the pain. Joseph teaches us three powerful principles for moving from a place of hurt to a place where we experience God’s healing power. Let us examine how we can apply the principles from Joseph’s godly response.

Principle #1 - Joseph did what was Right

Joseph is described in God’s Word as a righteous man (Matthew 1:19). This means he was the type of person who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Even in Joseph’s pain, he was guided by that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. It is imperative that we do not allow our pain to overrule our godly response. When we are hurt, we tend to focus on how we feel and we inevitably become self-centered. Our pain becomes so overwhelming that we are tempted to think we have a right to express how we feel in any manner. In order for us to mature in forgiveness, we will have to practice the challenging discipline of self-control. How we respond to pain will determine how quickly we get over our pain. Let us remember that evil begets more evil. If we respond in an ungodly manner, we will spiral downwards into more ungodliness and sabotage our journey to freedom and healing. It is indeed very difficult to respond in a godly manner when we have been hurt, but it is possible.

Principle #2 - Joseph did not try to get even.

The second lesson we can learn from Joseph is - he did not try to get even with Mary. The word of God tells us that Joseph did not want to expose her to public disgrace (Matthew 1:19). Of all the sins one could commit, sexual sin has arguably the greatest propensity to produce public embarrassment. Joseph could’ve responded by telling just one unsafe person that Mary had cheated on him and mercilessly wrecked her reputation. He could also have used the opportunity to get her stoned to death and gotten back at her legally. Joseph did not operate in a hurtful manner towards Mary. He was actually sensitive to her and chose not to expose her to public disgrace. In the midst of his pain, he still found it necessary to be sensitive to Mary. When we take a long time to show kindness to those who have hurt us, we allow un-forgiveness to mature in our hearts and it becomes increasingly difficult to get over the pain. However, when we take care not to get ‘even’ with the person we are guarding our hearts from bitterness and an unforgiving attitude. The more we harbor bitterness, the longer and harder it becomes for us to be healed. Getting ‘even’ with the one who caused us pain might seem like a viable option in the midst of our hurt, but it is not. It is actually the very thing that keeps us from getting over our hurt. Like Joseph, we must be careful to protect those who have hurts us by exercising sensitivity.

Principle #3 - Joseph listened to the Lord

The third lesson we learned from Joseph is that he listened to the Lord even though he was hurting. In his pain, Joseph was going to silently divorce Mary (Matthew 1:19). It’s interesting to note that Joseph only saw two possible options for dealing with Mary. He could either publicly embarrass her or divorce her. When hurting, we can sometimes be a little myopic and not realize that other options exist for dealing with the situation we are facing. When Joseph was asleep an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20b). The Lord made it clear to Joseph that he had a third option; he could marry Mary. Joseph had never considered that option. He was so overwhelmed with his hurt that he could not see any further than his own two options. What is outstanding about Joseph, however, is that he had a heart that was willing to listen and consider what the Lord was saying to him in the midst of his own painful situation. Sometimes we are not willing to hear what the Lord is saying because of how we’re feeling. We do not want anyone to give us godly advice; we do not want to go to church; we are not open to receiving godly counsel, all because we are hurt. It is not safe to reject the wisdom of God in the midst of our pain, for the Lord can and will show us our third option. Joseph teaches us the importance of listening to the Lord during our painful experience. After listening to the Lord, Joseph found out that his situation was not as bad as he had thought. It was actually a great opportunity for both Joseph and Mary. God in His wisdom had allowed them both to be the earthly parents of the Savior of the world. Imagine, if you can, how Joseph must have felt to know that he was about to divorce the love of his life. Suppose he had acted with vengeance and gotten Mary stoned to death. Or, suppose he had divorced Mary and wanted nothing to do with her child - he would have condemned himself to a lost eternity.

Joseph's hurt was grounded in how he had perceived the surrounding events. It was not grounded in what was actually occurring. We ought to learn from this, for sometimes there is no reason to be hurt at all but we can be walking around with angry and bitter feelings when we should be rejoicing.

In your painful situation, the surrounding events might be very real and not perceived. Even then, please learn from Joseph's example. Do not allow the pain to control you and rob you of the rest of your years. It is very possible to move on from the hurtful experiences of yesterday by taking one step at a time.

If you are looking for help in order to overcome a painful experience from your past please do not hesitate to get a copy of the devotional ‘21 Days To Forgiveness’. It is a biblical devotional that was written to help individuals move from a place of hurt to a place of healing.


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