Now, this is for sure, a touchy subject. How many of us have been hurt by the same people we once called friend or even family? I bet loads. I have been too. If you are part of a church then getting hurt or offended is actually inevitable. In fact, I'd say if you are part of any group, over time, you are likely to be offended by someone or something.
The word of God says it: "Woe to the world because of offenses. For offenses will inevitably come, but woe to that person by whom the offense comes." - Matthew 18:7
Being offended, or experiencing church hurt has to be one of the most heart-wrenching things...why? Because you never expected it. If you did - you wouldn't be hurt. Nobody ever goes to church thinking, well, I cannot wait for the day I feel betrayed, but oh honey, that day will come, and I will tell you why...because it happened to Jesus, the man you are trying to be like. Although contextually below, Jesus was talking about people in the world, Jesus was persecuted mostly by people in the church. It was actually members of the church [the Pharisees] that brought him to His death, or as some would say - His destiny. And in a similar way, I think church hurt can be beneficial for some of us too.
"Remember the word I spoke to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours." - John 15:20
Just because someone is physically in church does not mean they won't hurt you. When someone receives salvation, a transformation takes place in their spirit. Their behaviour, thoughts and personality don't change instantly, bad behaviours, habits and other things are dealt with by God throughout their walk with Him. The difference occurs in how God sees them, they move from sinner to sanctified and become the bloodline of Jesus. I do think, often, we put too much of an expectation on others to be perfect. Especially if that person holds a title or a place in your heart, but the truth is, just as sometimes you fall short, so do others.
Often you need to remind yourself, that just as you are imperfect and are on a journey, so is that person. Yes, they could have known better, yes they could have been self-aware, yes they could have tried harder, but they didn't, because they're not perfect, and neither are you.
That's what usually helps me forgive others, remembering that I am so very flawed and so are many others.
Now, how can church hurt be beneficial for you?
1. It can deepen your relationship with God
Well, I don't know about you, but church hurt [or any hurt] is always a reminder for me to take my eyes off people. Maybe their influence and their presence have become too loud in my life. Maybe, just maybe it has quietened the voice of God, and I have looked at them to fulfil needs that God should first. People can only do so much, and if someone is unable to fulfil an expectation I've placed on them, like keeping a secret, being a faithful friend, supporting me, loving me, then perhaps that is too much of a duty for that particular person.
Perhaps that person was never meant to be that person for me, so, instead of harping over it, I give that expectation to God, and I use wisdom moving forward. Giving that expectation to God and allowing Him to give me the love, support, friendship or counsel I required, forces me to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, because looking at man is no longer a priority. Even being hurt and bringing to it God deepens the relationship between you and him. It makes you humble and vulnerable before Him... remember... A broken heart - He will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
I have to remind you that God is a jealous God. "Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." - Exodus 34:14, and if people, friendships, likes, validation, acceptance, titles have become a god, he may remove what He needs to so you can focus on Him more clearly, and I see that as a blessing!
Now, what do I mean when I say use wisdom? Using wisdom means that you forgive and you love, but you also lower your expectations and sometimes change your position. We all know why we have to forgive..and forgiving means that you also show love to that person, but I'd also add that you lower your expectations, to stop you from being repeatedly offended. If after forgiving, you put the same expectation on the person, they are bound to disappoint you again. So don't. Give it to God, He will fulfil it, or send you someone who is capable of doing so. Next, you may need to change your position because sometimes it's your proximity to the person that causes the offence. Even in the church, you are not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Whilst we are all 'spiritual' people, we have personalities and tendencies that do not mesh well with everyone. You simply do not have to be everyone's friend. Remain friendly and loving, but do not be so fast to throw around the 'friend' label. If someone consistently hurts you, then maybe that person has a flaw God has not yet worked on, and for the sake of your salvation mama, if you both cannot reach a peaceful resolution, I would distance myself and love from afar.
2. It forces you to grow up, spiritually.
There are fruits of the spirit, then there are gifts. Gifts are given freely by God, and fruits are something that is laboured for. Laboured. I remember being in labour with Cairo and the pain made me rip off my own edges. If you labour for something, it often involves some sort of work and some sort of pain. So if you have been praying about spiritual growth, or been praying earnestly for a heart like His, or to be able to love more, be more patient or kind, then expect to experience pain, it's sometimes the only way God can mature you.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peacefor those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11
And just like I had a beaaaautiful baby boy at the end of all that pain, after God has worked out whatever the offence, or painful situation was, you will have a beautiful spiritual harvest. That's also how God can use everything, even the bad, for your good (Romans 8:28).
3. Sometimes, it causes you to self-analyse.
Sometimes, you have to look at patterns. If over time, you find that people distance themselves from you due to a particular reason, you may have some work to do on yourself. You may have to stop gossiping, you may have to be a bit more friendly, you may have to stop putting large expectations on people, you may have to stop being selfish. If you also find that almost everyone has offended you in some sort of way, you may be a Sensitive Sally, why do you allow people to get to you so much? and why do you put the same level of expectation on everyone? You may have to ask yourself hard questions to get to the root of the offence, then use wisdom moving forward, but the positive is that you have matured.
Moral of this post is, in some way shape or form, we have all been hurt by those we love, but with God and with maturity, there can always be some sort of good that comes out of it, if not reconciliation with a stronger foundation for friendship, then spiritual growth and self-growth, which for me, is even more valuable.
Just my thoughts!