We’ve all heard a thousand times that healthy relationships “talk it out” because confronting the people who hurt us keeps us from bottling up our emotions inside. Even in Christian circles, we hear that confronting “the hurters” keeps those poisonous roots from growing in our hearts. So confronting in love must be Biblical, right?
A recent situation caused me to question these “truths” that had set up camp in my belief system. A friend had done a series of questionable things that caused me to question if our friendship was real. And because I didn’t have full clarity on what was going on, I continued to assume the best of my friend, hoping that what I thought was happening was just a misunderstanding on my part. But as time went on, things did not change, more offenses were made, and I was left feeling angry, confused, and hurt.
I still wasn’t sure that my friend was intentionally hurting me. I still wasn’t sure they fully understood what they were doing. So, I was left with icky feelings, not knowing what to do with them.
My first inclination was to go to them. Confront them. Tell them what they had done and how it made me feel (gently and kindly of course). I remembered being taught somewhere by someone that talking it out was the right and healthy way of handling situations like these. But being taught “somewhere by someone” doesn’t always mean it’s Biblical. It doesn’t always mean it’s Truth.
As I contemplated what to do I uttered a soft prayer, “Jesus, what do I do? Do I just pray these feelings away? Do I confront my friend in love like I’ve been told so many times? If not, how am I supposed to keep my heart from growing those awful poisonous roots? What does Your Word instruct us to do?”
As I prayed, the Holy Spirit started bringing some verses to mind. He reminded me to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39). He reminded me that Jesus endured many attacks from others (Hebrew 12:3), without any sort of retaliation (1 Peter 2:23), and without uttering a single word (Isaiah 53:7). That didn’t sound like confronting “the hurter” to me. That sounded like the opposite.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a computer and start studying to see more of what God’s Word had to say. As I searched Google – “Bible verses on bitterness”, “what does the Bible say to do when someone hurts you” (Google is a great tool for Bible study)- I came across more truths. The answers I found were not exactly the ones I was hoping for because they confirmed that confronting “the hurter” was not the most healthy thing for me to do. And if that was true, then I had to just sit with these icky feelings. If that was true, then I couldn’t let my emotions out of myself and load them onto “the hurter” instead. If that was true, then I had to endure my suffering just like Jesus did.
Despite what the psychologists and the bloggers and your friends tell you, there is no right way to confront those who hurt us. Instead, we are called to forgive and trust God with the rest. We are called to learn from Christ’s own example – the One who died for those who hurt Him. The One who never made threats, never retaliated, and never needed to confront. The One who sat with His pain and endured His suffering, waiting patiently on God, allowind God to be The Judge, and trusting Him to do what He knew was best in the timing He knew was best.
1 Peter 5:7 says to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV). Beth Moore once taught that word “cast” in the original Greek form means “to make responsible for” and that when we are “casting” our worries, our troubles, and our fears on God, we aren’t just tossing it to God and avoiding our feelings, we are actually making Him responsible for it. We are handing the burdens we carry over and placing it in His hands saying “I can’t do this. I need You to take care of it for me.” and then trusting that His will.
Jesus did this with His “hurters”. “He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly” (1 Peter 2:23b NLT). He casted, He made God responsible for “the hurters” and waited on God to act.
Jesus knew that those “who wait for the LORD…renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31a ESV). He knew that “The LORD [would] fight for [Him]; [He] need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14 NIV). He knew that taking matters into His own hands, even if it wasn’t revengeful, was not the way to find joy, or peace, or freedom.
One verse prior in 1 Peter 5 says to “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV). Jesus knew that God had Him. That God was for Him. And that God would give Him His glory at the perfect time.
I don’t know who your “hurter” is (maybe you have many) and I don’t know what he or she or they have done. But we too can endure. And wait. And trust. And forgive just like Jesus did. We too can do those things because Christ’s Spirit is inside of us, empowering us to do what we otherwise could not.
Maybe what your “hurter” did was terrible. Maybe it was something that seems unforgivable. Maybe it seems better to just stay quiet and let the anger fester. Maybe it seems better to confront them and “talk it out”. Or maybe it even seems better to get revenge, let them have it. All of those things may seem better, but the Truth that sets us free says otherwise.
We may have to hold some icky feelings, but we don’t have to hold them alone because we can “cast” our worries on God, making Him responsible for them. And we don’t have to hold them for long because His Spirit, who is alive in all who believe, will cause good fruit to grow as we endure our suffering.
Hebrews 12 says to “endure hardship as discipline” (7, NIV) because God’s discipline “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (10-11, NIV). These hardships we face, including the ones that involve other’s evil intentions, are allowed into our life by God to grow us and sanctify us and produce good fruit in our lives! Those icky feelings won’t last because love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will blossom. Your garden will be overtaken by the good fruit, not the poisonous ones.
After all my studying, I decided to shut my mouth and do nothing. I decided to stop trying and starting trusting. I decided to follow Christ’s example, leaving the judging up to God, and forgiving in the meantime.
The things my friend did to me didn’t magically erase, but the feelings I had been holding felt a little lighter. The peace in my soul felt stronger. And my faith in God had grown. I hope that these truths do the same for you. I pray that God gives you the faith to trust Him and let Him handle it. My heart aches that so many hurt people are hurting people, but the hurt only makes us long more for Christ’s return. It keeps our roots growing in the right place and produces the good fruit we all are hoping for.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 NIV