How Should the Church Care for its Wounded?

 

Photo Credit: Bradley Weber https://www.flickr.com/photos/41294655@N00/11661716274/in/photolist-iLvkXG-p5iqTD-pJS4jQ-q1AhAZ-p5ctqA-pJRoDa-q22BRv-p5pJis-4ZeucQ-qAPR3s-pXhU7c-q8j63x-q8hAnF-pPPH6v-pYiEU2-qEPwS7-qLruRn-ooDjtB-qpEA1G-qU3hd5-qCEsqD-am9MHG-efUcH4-efXyAc-m4KXwc-4y2ADp-bDbNsn-775L82-nUkcxo-efXtjt-o79AQc-qQS7EV-p4FaRh-qXe7Pz-5Tji4x-qBuL2Y-qBDx3H-qV1MFS-9fhcuG-5Vuqyg-my9ZTT-d6Dzxh-dcAmLR-c6ahjf-ovJpQx-duKLC4-7kCBtz-7q95ez-hYv5uy-qd3MAZ

Photo Credit: Bradley Weber

 

He began pouring out his heart to us. His life had consisted of more horror, abuse, and rejection than many of us can even imagine. He then also began sharing about some of the crimes he’d committed…he had never told anyone else about them because he was afraid he wouldn’t be accepted or even liked anymore…

 

She had tears streaming down her face as she shared some of the struggles her family has been going through. The pain and loss has been extremely difficult, but that’s really not what’s been the hardest part of her journey. The most painful part has come from fellow church members…

 

A friend of mine has been struggling with chronic health conditions that have been hard to diagnose and find answers for. Since her condition isn’t an obvious handicap, she’s had to face misunderstandings that often come with these circumstances. Some of her greatest hurts have come from those who should’ve been her greatest comforters.

 

I recently wrote a blog on “When the Church Wounds Its Own.” In it, I talked about what our response should be when we are hurt by someone within the church. So, this week, I want to talk about the correct way for those in the church to respond in order to help those who are wounded.

 

Recently, as I’ve been reflecting on the book of Job, I’ve seen a similarity between Job’s “friends” and some within the church today. I’ve also been able to see that, as Job’s friends, we may have excellent intentions, but sometimes we end up hurting rather than helping those who are going through difficult times. Especially when their trials, struggles, or health conditions seem to continue with no end in sight. When we can’t CORRECT their problems we often begin CONDEMNING them instead.

 

In the earlier part of Job’s loss and devastation, his three friends were sympathetic and great comforters, but they didn’t stay that way for long. In fact, we can learn a valuable lesson from them as we see they were the greatest encouragement and biggest help when they were simply there for him rather than trying to fix things. Like Job’s friends, we need to see that we are better comforters when we learn how to keep our mouths shut rather than criticizing.

 

You probably remember the story of how Job’s friends began blaming Job for his losses. (Job 22:4-11) “Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment? Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite? For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry. But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it. Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee; Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee.” 

 

In these verses we can see what Job’s friends thought about his situation. They were saying that Job surely must have some hidden sin or he didn’t do something right in order for God to allow Job to face these terrible losses.

 

Doesn’t this sound familiar? This seems to be the natural tendencies we also have today, doesn’t it?

 

In our minds, we want to believe that if we obey God, we will receive His blessing and bad things won’t happen to us. We seem to think that pain and loss is the result of disobedience, and that God’s protection from bad things is our reward for obedience.

 

When devastation comes, or when healing doesn’t happen, we are prone to believe that there must be a spiritual problem in that person’s life. No other option agrees with our (wrong) theology. My friend, as we can see in Job’s life, this isn’t always the case. Our obedience + God’s fairness does not always equal God’s protection.

 

Let’s get this straight. You can be serving and following the Lord 100% with no known sin in your life, yet suddenly encounter a terrible loss and tragedy. You can also be living a sinful life or even commit crimes, yet, all your business deals work out, your plans succeed, and nothing bad comes your way. God says,“…That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45) If we recognize that the ungodly man can prosper, why do we have a hard time accepting that a godly man can also face extreme losses without it pointing to a sin issue in his life? 

Audrey: https://www.flickr.com/photos/audreyjm529/221472644/in/photolist-kz76S-8Zn349-cdCKi5-eThaVu-4SHnbR-7Y53Bg-AzAMk-4veR7A-co4WRf-j35fkp-6KRt3b-6KRtkh-KD9F3-71sZR-5vTGp-f6wEcc-aqpMth-4uDPn-bPJfe6-cuDYtq-aszhQb-uEd8B-cUnSL9-bmpfMy-4TeKU-4TbonF-7Y53zT-e7os8g-bcig2X-cnYKyY-d63M8W-8bb732-8nRBbC-5nAxuB-hLCXQ-9ebuEx-9BEKfL-i9VaDJ-5hvZeh-dtRyPf-n6rP5D-fiuri5-pY9fBC-6JiK5a-4x1Wms-bWToXN-4yAXRt-4i4iCH-7hbaSj-81gc4L

Photo Credit: Audrey

 

If you ever face a life-changing loss and extremely difficult situation, how would you like for your friends, family, and church family to treat you? Would it be painful for you if they treated you like Job’s friends did; trying to find the reason for your pain? Would you rather have them criticize your wrongs or care for your hurting heart? Which approach would be the most likely to draw you towards Jesus?

 

I wish every churchgoer could be fully aware of the tendency that we have to wound each other. We want our churches to be a safe haven for the vulnerable, wounded, and hurting, not a place of “backbiters,” criticizers, and rebukers.

 

In response to what Job’s friends said about him, this is what GOD said about them: “And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath…” (Job 42:7)

 

Throughout the book of Job, we can see that Job was living for God when he experienced his tremendous tragedies. Job 1: 8 says, And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Now let me ask you…if God allowed His servant Job to face what he did, don’t you think there could be other “blameless” individuals who are going through tough times today?

 

In saying all of this, I also do recognize and believe that there are many things caused in our lives as a result of our wrong choices and sins. And it’s important that we deal with our sins. However, I believe we’ve become out of balance in our churches and are better at judging than comforting. 

 

 

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Let’s keep that in mind when we see others facing pain and loss. Instead of trying to “help” identify the sin that is supposedly causing this, let’s focus on sharing their burdens and caring for their hurting hearts. We are all on the same team. We should be each others biggest encourager! This is how the church should handle its wounded.

~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)

 

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6 Responses

  1. Tammy Hershberger says:

    oh Cindy thank you so much for writing this. i feel as if you were talking about me part of the time. thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Cindy Mullett says:

    Praise God, Tammy! I am so glad God was able to use it to encourage you…

  3. Kathy Kennedy says:

    Having watched our young adult daughter go through a huge list of chronic health conditions/ pain for several years, it’s been a serious extreme to go through. While others lives have progressed (from this world’s standards) hers has been pigeonholed. She wonders if she will even ever have a life. Through some rough and bumpy faith lessons, hers is still in tact. #1 lesson? It’s all about HIM! She’s not up on stage singing, she is not going on the mission trips, etc. In fact, Sunday mornings are usually the toughest mornings of the week so church may or may not make it. However, she loves Jesus more than anyone I know. Lessons 2-10? It’s ALL ABOUT HIM!

  4. Cindy Mullett says:

    I’m so sorry, Kathy, to hear of your daughter’s chronic health conditions and pain she has to face. I know it’s very heart breaking to see your child suffer and not be able to enjoy the life that so many people simply take for granted. My heart goes out to both of you and I will be praying for grace and strength for each day. I praise God that she is choosing to embrace her pain and realizes that her life is all about Him. What a testimony! There’s nothing more challenging and encouraging than when God uses our broken pieces and creates a masterpiece that reflects His character and image. May His grace be sufficient for your journey! ~Cindy

  5. Chaplain Imsand says:

    Dear Sister Cindy, you are a wise and brave woman to write this. It’s high time that we as the church quit trying to look like good Christians and start funneling our spiritual energies into becoming one in Spirit and in Truth, with CHRIST-like humility.

    I would like to add to your insight with some lessons I have learned on my journey of raw-gut honesty before my Tender Lord and also loving others as I would want to be loved.

    I am a first generation Christian,so I hold perhaps a unique view point. The closest thing I have ever known to a Christian family is through the local assembly. So, not because I’m so spiritual, but through my circumstances has been cultivated a deep desire for local Church fellowships to see all children as our children. For leadership to address all children as their children. For mothers to defend all children as there own.
    (i.e.- my family could get along as one)

    Maybe I could say it better this way. When your in a marriage, you are in it for life. The hard things are worked through and the loyalty deepens. When you grow up with siblings, there failures bring embarrassment to the family and there victories feel complentary because you liken yourselves to a deep degree AS ONE. If The Church could give the same loyalty to the corporate body that is given to there own it would solve all these critical spirits to a great degree.

    THE CHUCH NEEDS DEEPER LOYALTIES TO THE CORPERATE BODY LIKE THE WAY I HAVE SEEN MOST ALL HAVE FOR THERE IMEDIATE FAMILY. (LORD hear our prayer)

    I do feel great progress in our local assembly in this area and I’m trying to take responsibility for my part. I so deeply enjoy the love and LOYALTY I see within the families in our church circles and am grateful for all my experiences of all types because I feel motivated to teach my family (when given the Sovereign direction to start one) to not be an island but a river of flowing water in the local assembly.

    In closing, let’s consider one verse. We know Jesus is The Head and we are the members of the body. But there is one distinction (of great importance) we seldom hear of… CHURCH please hear this bible word…

    *** JOINT ***
    EPHESIANS 4:16
    (15)….even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which EVERY JOINT SUPPLIETH, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body UNTO THE EDIFYING ITSELF IN LOVE.

    Perhaps The Church here in The States has forgotten how desperately we need each other and has contracted some type of spiritual arthritis and there has become great stiffness and pain in our CORPERATE CONECTIVITY.

    DEAR KIND FATHER, HEAL OUR BODY AND HELP US TO LAUGH AND WEEP IN UNISON ONCE AGAIN. FOR JESUS AND THY NAME SAKE AMEN.

    P.s- My Mothers name is Cindy also and is a five time cancer survivor. God has worked a great work of humility and openness of discussion through all this, so I join you all and wish you grace and peace in this Rom 8:28 fellowship of discussion. Looking very much forward as always to seeing you all on the GEMS crusade. Hope to see your family in Jackson C.I. , Lord Willing, again.

    ~ IN CHRIST, Brother Justin / Chaplain Imsand GEMS Family EPH 1:3

  6. Cindy Mullett says:

    Thank you for your input, brother Justin. You are right on! “It’s high time that we as the church quit trying to look like good Christians and start funneling our spiritual energies into becoming one in Spirit and in Truth, with CHRIST-like humility.” Amen! We often put so much focus on looking like good Christians rather than becoming Christlike. And I think you are right, we in the States do not recognize the need we have for each other. We think we are self-sufficient. I appreciate your perspective.

    Wow, your mother has been on a journey–and you as well, as you have walked with her. Is she in remission now?

    We wish we could be at the GEMS crusade in December, but our schedule will not allow our whole family to be there. Duane will be the only one going. We will be coming through the area there mid-February. If you know a church in the area that would be interested in having our family come to share, we would be available for that. You can email us at themullettfamily@gmail.com. But our prayers will be with you all here in December…praying for God’s spirit to move and speak!

    -Cindy

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"From Pain To Purpose” ministry is honored to partner with you in bringing hurting people, from around the world, in contact with the healing power of God. Our heart’s desire is to disciple those who’ve had painful experiences in life, helping them to find purpose in their pain, and choosing to honor and glorify God through these experiences. This ministry is only made possible as God provides finances through the generosity of friends like you. Your prayerful consideration and giving will allow us to impact the lives of hurting people for God’s glory.

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