Have you been hurt in the church? Here are five steps to start the healing process.
“So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please.’ And they came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.’” (Genesis 45:4-5, ESV)
Someone once said you can pick your friends but not your family. How true. It always surprises me how different siblings can be and how their personalities can rub against each other. Hurts can put a wedge into families for years, and yet these are the very people you are supposed to turn to for support and love, and they to you.
When one sibling is at odds with another, it hurts the whole family. It can be likened to when you hurt your leg. In order to relieve the pain you choose not to use it very much. However, you put too much weight on the other side until that aches. The same is true with family, and the spiritual family called the Body of Christ. If someone in the church rubs you the wrong way, or if one person becomes envious of another’s talents, it can affect the whole congregation.
If you are in the midst of sibling rivalry, or if a brother or sister (familial or spiritual) has deeply hurt your feelings, what can you do to reconcile the relationship? God in His wisdom sets forth the example with Joseph. How does Joseph confront his brothers who so mistreated him because of their jealousy?
First of all, Joseph initiates the conversation. He asks them, “Come near to me, please.” Next, Joseph acknowledges what they did. He does not sweep it under the rug, but simply states the facts. However, he flips it around. Instead of saying “I am angry with you because you did that,” he tells them they need not be angry with themselves. He sees their side of the rift. He states it was all in God’s plan and God has turned it into good. You see Joseph had been healed of the rejection and hurt. God had been working on that with him for years. It was time for the reconciliation to begin.
Jesus said if you have a problem with your brother, go to him first and reconcile, then come to the altar. (Matthew 5:23-24) It is hard to worship when there is a deep hurt in our heart, or an unresolved anger. It affects everything in our thoughts and actions whether we realize it or not. But sometimes we need God’s help in that action. That is all He asks us to do – to give Him the hurt and anger. That is when He can work His miracles.
God had helped Joseph heal so that even though he was the one who had been wronged, he could initiate the restoration of his relationship with his siblings. Joseph did not do any finger pointing, or dwell on his feelings, or beat them into the ground for what they had done. He told them instead how God had used the circumstances to work in his life. By doing that, he told them he was over it. That took the emotion out of the situation, like removing the thorn from the paw of a lion.
The passages ends with these words – “Then Joseph’s brothers talked with him.” At last, healing in that family began.
Dear God, When I have been hurt it’s easy to want to wait for the other person to start the work of reconciliation. It’s so easy to hold on to my anger, to clutch the pain tightly in my hands. I know that the only solution is to let go of that hurt and hand it over to You. Help me to be quick to release my pain and anger and willing to take the first step towards reconciling. Amen
Questions: Is there someone you are at odds with right now? Will you pray for God to help heal you so you can see His glory in it and the path towards healing the relationship?