When Hurt Turns To Hate And Hopelessness
By Mark Schaufler • MST Ministries • Olympia, Washington
The recent murders in Texas are an expression of anger, but when you investigate the shooter’s backstory, you find one source of wounds after another. Not knowing how to respond to the very real feelings he was having produced a tragic headline today.
Diving into their painful world also meant diving into Scripture for the help they and I needed. I didn’t realize just how specific Scripture would prove to be in these areas. From those key truths, we have developed a vocabulary to enable students to express themselves and have adults be able to hear and understand them. If I was to do it all over again in my first ten years of ministry, I would spend even more time equipping students to deal with the inevitable wounds of life.
When addressing wounds, the challenge is the variety of sources for them, and the variety of different responses needed. I am going to list some key sources of wounds and show you how the appropriate responses will vary greatly.
Sources Of Wounds
Nasty: Proverbs 26:10 Like an archer who wounds at random is he who hires a fool or any passerby. Avoid… 911…
Negligence: Psalms 38:5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. Learn Don’t Blame.
Normal: Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Learn Don’t Blame.
Needed: Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Learn Don’t Blame.
Nurture: Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Expectations also can haunt your whole life! Break out the First Aid Kit.
Not In Control: Ecclesiastes 2:19 Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. Break out the First Aid Kit.
Not Perfect: Deuteronomy 32:4 His ways are perfect… Can we really expect that from people? Learn Don’t Blame.
Nature: Luke 2:11 There will be… (natural disasters of all kinds) Learn Don’t Blame.
No: 2 Samuel 13:1-14 No my brother! When “No” doesn’t work, break out the First Aid Kit.
Not Listed: You guessed it! There are too many sources to list.
Responding To Wounds
The challenge with all the wound sources is they feel the same. Despite the similarities, how we respond to the wounds needs to be very different.
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Avoid: When it is in your power, sometimes, that is the best response.
911: This is a realistic response but creates all kinds of challenges. When the issues are abuse or criminal neglect then involving the proper authorities needs to be done. It will create numerous issues, feedback, and potential fallout especially when it involves church families. Not involving the proper authorities when you should, can create even greater issues down the line.
Learn. Don’t Blame: Hebrews says it this way, “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” When we are hurt, our first response is often to blame someone else, regardless of how big of a role we may have played in the pain we are now experiencing. When we choose to learn from it, we grow and are better equipped for the next time it happens; and it will happen again at some point.
First Aid Kit: In the world of physical wounds there is a basic strategy: Clean it out. Keep it clean. And if it’s bigger than what you can do by yourself, get some help. Looking at emotional wounds through the Spiritual world, it works like this:
- Clean It Out: 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Even if we are one hundred percent innocent, at some point the enemy will use condemnation to make us feel guilty. Confessing takes away the sting of guilt that can keep the wound active and alive for years.
As easy as this can sound, for many it is a struggle to forgive those who have wronged them. Especially when it can be of horrific proportions. I have seen some forgive and grow forward while others haven’t forgiven and stayed stagnant in the past.
- Keep It Clean: Matthew 5:43-47 “You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
Once a wound is cleaned, it needs to stay that way. Unfortunately, that can take some time. During that time, the wound is especially sensitive, and it is easy to reinjure the area and reinforce the fact that the wounder is your enemy, at least in your mind.
Praying for those people (blessings and not a curse) turns the table on the healing process and takes away any power the enemy has over us in the area of the wound. Open wounds allow the enemy, to poke it and keep the issues of revenge and retaliation alive.
- If It’s Bigger Than What You Can Do, Get Some Help: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Asking for help is often the last thing people do even when it is most needed. When it comes to serious wounds most everyone needs the help of those around them as well as the comfort of the Father.
This article by Mark Schaufler is one of 8 articles in the current Youth Leaders Only Digital Box themed “Troubled Kids/Hurting Kids: Youth Ministry & The Mental Health Crisis” Get all 8 articles by clicking here. Youth Leaders Only, in its 38th year, helps youthworkers in thousands of churches be aware of the music their students are listening to, use all forms of music in their ministries, and equip their students to make wise choices about the music & media they have in their earbuds 9 hours every day. A membership costs less than the price of a pizza each month!
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
If wounds aren’t dealt with then we roll into the challenge of anger turning to hate and more.
Ephesians 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Learning how to deal with anger whether it is connected to wounds or not, is another challenge we can face with a common vocabulary. We built a vocabulary to be able to show the maturity progression of anger but also to be able to talk about it. Emotional issues are often a challenge because people can have the same experience but describe it in ten different ways.
Those ten people might think that nobody understands just because of the words they use to describe it.
Anger is not the problem; it is what we do when angry that turns into a problem. Jesus got angry and there are things we should get angry about as well. We must learn how to deal with it in a mature way that turns the emotion into motivation for change versus a motivation for destruction. Like all emotions, there is a mature response we can grow into.