Someone once asked Benjamin Franklin if anything in this world was certain and his reply was in typical Franklinesque style, concise and to the point: ”Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
Obviously, this gives us a window into what was predominantly on his mind, especially around the time he and some friends were birthing a nation. While his statement is true, there are at least a few other things that are certain in this world short of death and taxation, and one of them is trouble.
John, one of Jesus' closest followers, quotes Him as saying this: ”In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). Not super uplifting nor encouraging nevertheless, very true. Sometimes people "get into" trouble, other times, trouble seems to find us, but it seems an inescapable fact that none of us will travel through this world unscathed.
So the big question is naturally this, "How do we handle it when it comes?" And from a pastoral perspective, "How do we handle it Biblically?"
I believe the answer lies in looking to a person, not another program. Look at that quote once more, this time in it's entirety. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus certainly knows and understands what it means to be hurt. His family doubted Him, the religious leaders discredited Him, in His hour of greatest need, His closest friends hurt him by deserting Him, and finally His nation rejected Him, turning Him over to the Romans for a violent execution even though He was innocent.
Yet He says to you and me today: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” The prophet Zechariah made this amazing statement 470 years before before Jesus was even born: ”And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Zechariah 13:6 (KJV) Yes, sometimes those closest to us can inflict the most damage.
When it comes to handling hurt in a Biblcal fashion, there are two guiding principles to go by. The first one is this: Understand that Hurt People Hurt People.
Those that carry wounds in their bodies or soul, who have themselves been hurt either physically, emotionally through some form of abuse or rejection, and/or have suffered any kind of mental anguish and never recovered from it tend to be those that inflict damage on others as well.
I'm not saying that they are malicious, or intend to harm others, I've just seen enough people that have never really gone through a process of healing move through life spreading hurt to others because they don't know how to cope. Every incident that is not forgiven and released becomes a another brick mortared into a wall they're building around themselves.
When hurt, the wall continues to go up even higher, and there seems to be a concerted effort from within to "never have that happen to me again." It's a wall that has no doors or windows, and unless construction stops, they will completely shut themselves off from meaningful human interaction. If there's no forgiveness of others, bitterness can begin to take root, and those around these types of people take the brunt of it.
All of us have been there at one point or another. Just check the height on any walls you're in the process of building and realize that if left unaddressed, at best, you're on a path toward unhealthy interaction with other people, and at worst, relational isolation.
The second principle is similar: Healed People Heal People. We receive healing from past hurts and wounds when like Jesus, we choose to forgive. Even as His enemies were pounding spikes through His hands and feet His prayer was this, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." (Luke 23:33-34)
When others say things about you or even to you, or do things that are hurtful or inconsiderate, the way to handle it is to extend grace and forgive. Remember, hurt people hurt people. They may not understand what they are doing when they belittle you, or criticize you in a hurtful way or make nasty remarks about you, but even if they do, we're still better off forgiving them than not.
You cannot control what others say and do, but you can control how it affects you, and as we make right choices in these areas (and everyday we get opportunities to do so), we become healed. In this world, you will have trouble. That much is certain, but because He overcame, you can too. The choice becomes ours: Will we be those that afflict others with hurt, or will we affect others with our healing? Choose wisely.