Wounded By Friendly Fire: Healing a Broken Heart
By Dot Bowen
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)
God uses people and circumstances to lead us toward His perfect plan for our lives. It can be difficult to see the loving hand of God when we’ve been “wounded by friendly fire” and have been hurt by those we love and trust. Providence is not a word we often use, but it’s one of the greatest blessings of a follower of Christ. Louis Berkhof defines providence as “the continued exercise of the divine energy whereby the Creator preserves all his creatures, is operative in all that comes to pass in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end.” God governs by His presence what He created by His power.
So why is it so difficult to see God’s presence in the mist of pain? Is it because we are so focused on the pain? Author and teacher Ron Dunn wrote: “If I were Jesus (I speak as a fool), I think the most disappointing day of my life would have been resurrection day.” This statement really surprised me. Why would Jesus’ crucifixion not be His worst day? As they led Jesus to be crucified, Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and the other disciples scattered. Wouldn’t that make for a bad day? The nails wounded Jesus, but He was also wounded by the betrayal of His disciples. Dunn suggests the day of Jesus’ resurrection was his worst because “not a single person was there to welcome Jesus back from the dead—none of His disciples, none of His friends. It’ wasn’t that they were uninformed because Jesus had repeatedly told them He would rise on the third day. But rather than being there to welcome him, they were in hiding, huddled together around their fear and faithlessness, and they missed the dawning of a new day.” Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ gravesite to prepare a corpse—not to look for a living Jesus. Jesus certainly understands being hurt by the people we love!
So how do we handle being wounded by the people we trust and love? How do we forgive when we are completely filled with anger and revenge? Don’t underestimate the cost of forgiveness; forgiveness cost Jesus His life, and it may cost me my pride. But living with bitterness, fear, and conflict outweighs any other cost. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” I don’t want to deny Jesus’ claim that we are blessed when we are persecuted, but the last thing I feel when I’m persecuted is blessed. But Jesus is always right! God can use persecution to take our eyes off earthly rewards, it strips away from superficial belief and it can strengthen our faith. On the other hand, if we respond by trying to get revenge, we lose our heavenly rewards, our faith will be weakened, and we’ll be mad at God rather than trust Him.
When I choose to give God my broken heart rather than seek revenge, I’m able to feel God’s presence and experience His power to overcome what has the potential to destroy me. To live free from the control of others and the bondage of revenge, we must ask God to give us the desire and power to forgive. We cannot forgive in our own strength. Forgiveness must be given to us through the Holy Spirit. When God asks something of us, He provides what we need to obey Him. It’s humanly impossible to heal our broken hearts when we have been betrayed; only God can heal a broken heart! So how do we let God heal our broken hearts? We first acknowledge we have been hurt. Next, we consciously choose not to allow the behavior of those who hurt us to control our lives. And then, the most important thing we can do is pray and confess to God we choose to forgive the one who hurt us. If we want God to heal our broken hearts, we must give Him our broken hearts. Giving God our broken hearts is a daily prayer of commitment when we find ourselves controlled by hurt. I don’t understand how God mends a broken heart, but I know He does! We pray, and God heals. Prayer is talking to God as if you were talking to your friend. God—not your friend—is the only One who can work a miracle in your soul.
Further Reading Matthew 5:1-12; Matthew 26; Matthew 28:1-10