Facing Hurt with Hope


It doesn't take any of us very long of living in this world to realize that life is painful: our parents argue, our siblings go off the deep end, friends turn on us, our churches split, we get fired, abused, etc. Some of us try to keep up the persona of not being affected, and even convince ourselves that nothing bad really happened. Everything is fine. Then others of us face the reality of an imperfect world with a pessimistic point of view, just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. We see that the world has dealt us a bad hand enough times to be expecting it again.

My husband and I tend to fall into these two categories. We joke about it, him saying that his pessimism is actually being "realistic", while I conclude I am looking on the bright side by ignoring bad things that happen. But both sides set aside reality. There are real problems and pain that should be addressed, but there is also hope. And neither should be ignored.

Admitting to Hurt

This world is fallen. Sin made it that way. In some ways, it scares me to admit that everything isn't going good. It was wonderful that I got to tell my husband that we were pregnant on our first anniversary, but it suddenly became very sad and painful the day the baby died. Hurt hit me in the face, but I refused to acknowledge it for a while. I pushed it aside, and told myself to get over it. There have been many imperfections in my life that I didn't know how to deal with, so I acted like it wasn't really that bad. I thought that surely I could get over those things when people went through much worse than me, right? I know how to do happy and hopeful, not so much how to heal from pain. So I tucked the hurt away, unknowingly, for a rainy day. I learned how to limp through life with scars that were never addressed. We all have those scars, don't we? They may not seem significant to others looking in, but they affected us profoundly. Are you one of those people that doesn't know how to deal with the pain, so you ignore it, calling it "not that bad", and hurry to optimistically move on? Don't be fooled; moving on without addressing a flawed world only makes the hurt fester. 

Allowing a Place for Hope

But then there's the other side of always acknowledging how this world lets you down, without any reference to future hope or a good God. It sits on the verge of bitterness. Sure, you've allowed yourself to analyze the bad things that have happened in your life, but you look forward with the expectancy of more bad. Instead of rose-colored glasses, yours are smokey. Just as not being able to face hurt is a way to shut off our feelings, so is not allowing that good still happens in this world. Being unable to acknowledge that good is likely to happen is actually another way to be unrealistic.

Balancing Healing and Grace

So, what do we do? Should we be realistically pessimistic or blindly optimistic? As usual, I prescribe a healthy balance of the two. This is one of the reasons I think my husband and I compliment each other so well. He keeps me grounded and helps me to face hard situations for what they are, not good. He keeps me from ignoring pain, and makes me face the demons that have come after me, and still do. At the same time, I help him to look beyond those bad things that can happen, and offer a hope and positive side. He's helped to heal my hurt heart by making me face reality and say it isn't ok when people do bad things to me (or whoever else). I help him to still have compassion on those people.

The Gospel works itself out in our lives by forcing us to acknowledge both sin and grace. You need to face those bad things that happened to you, head on, so that you can heal. Say it's not ok that it happened. But then look forward with hope and with grace, because you know that's exactly what Christ has done for you. He put a spotlight on how your sin hurt Him, and then graciously offered hope.

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