dear abigail::what about when the hurt just won't go away

>> September 9, 2010

After a summer hiatus, DEAR ABIGAIL is answering your letters again.

My husband and I have been in ministry for almost twenty years now.  For the past 3 years we've been in a church that has both the sweetest, and the most viciously power hungry people I've ever seen.
We pray, we fast, we've started a prayer warriors group.  Things seem like they are getting better and then . . . the other shoe drops.  I am not a particularly sensitive person.  Things that would bother many people roll off of my back.  But since we've been here, my heart has been broken repeatedly.  I'll think I'm doing fine and then, it happens again. 
What do you do when your heart just never really mends? When the pain just keeps going deeper and deeper?  I've prayed to God so many times, sometimes for hours and hours - until the pain goes away. But, I'm finding that I am somewhat discouraged with God right now, although He IS my life. 
I keep praying, but I also keep hurting.  We are not planning to move from here.  We love our home, we believe that God brought us here and even want to retire here.  I've grown a lot through these few years of pain and frustration, but now I feel  . . .  frustrated, hurt, confused and wounded. 

Dear Wounded,
It sounds like you are serving in a very tough district. It might even seem easier if it were all negative, so that you wouldn't let your guard down during the good times!

There is nothing I can write here to fully take away your anguish - although I wish that I could. However, I can remind you that you are not alone. Many other PWs can relate - including myself. Your description sounds much like our very first district. The near-demonic cruelty among the "saints" nearly drove my husband out of the ministry in his first year as a pastor.

One of the most crucial things to remember is that their actions are not necessarily personal. Vicious, power-hungry people would be acting this same way no matter who the pastor might be. Their viciousness and their insatiable need to control things did not begin when you arrived - it has likely been their reality for a long, long time.

You are already praying for God to heal your broken heart. But have you prayed for God to break their hearts as well? Not in a cruel sense, but in giving them such a powerful awareness of their own selfishness and sinful actions that their hearts are broken in regret. A heart-breaking over how they have hurt God and others, and of how much they need Jesus' grace and transformation power.

Have you prayed for God to do whatever it takes to get their attention, to bring them to Himself, to awaken them to their need of Him?

Many times, the best way to initiate healing in our own hearts is to begin praying also for the people who hurt us. Ask God to save them. Ask Him to do whatever it takes to change their hearts. Intercede for them.

Very likely, over time, you will find that your heart is not so broken anymore. Instead of feeling hurt and bitterness toward them you may feel pity, compassion, or even sympathy for them.

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