There are two types of people in the world: Those people who have been deeply hurt, and those people who will be deeply hurt. We can’t escape emotional pain or avoid it. At some time or another, we’ll all get hurt—either by the circumstances of life, or by friends, or by people we trust, or even by own stupidity. It’s a fact that sometimes Life hurts. One of best Scriptures I have found to deal with that hurt is 1 Peter 4:19. That verse tells us, So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. When we make a commitment to follow Christ, we don’t receive an exemption from pain. However, our hurts don’t have to destroy us; Christ offers us hope in coping with our pain. Today we will take a look at Psalm 30, which gives us insight as to how God wants us to handle the hurts in our life. When we are hurting, there are three things God wants us to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at each one.
First of all, to cope with the hurts of life, we must face the truth of our situation. At the thought of being in a painful situation, there are certain lies we tell ourselves (or maybe we are told by others) that simply are not true. What are those lies? There are at least two. First of all, we may say, “That experience could never happen to me.” How many times have we heard someone who had just experienced a tragedy say, “How could this happen? This kind of thing doesn’t happen to people like me.” The sad truth is tragedy can and does happen to everyone. We try to fool ourselves into thinking we are immune to disaster, but no one has the right to make that claim. The more privileged we think we are, the more difficult it is to deal with the hurts we experience in life. King David said in verse 6 of our passage, “As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’” How many times have we felt that way? Security, prosperity and youthfulness had made David feel invincible. He had wealth, power and health, but they went to his head. He was soon to discover that his own self-reliance wasn’t enough to face tragedy in his life. In the very next verse he says…(verse 7) … “you hid your face; I was dismayed.” David learned how quickly false security can be shattered. Another person in the Bible who learned the same lesson was the Apostle Peter. At one point he told Jesus, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” Yet, within hours of making that statement, Peter denied knowing Christ. If we go through life thinking “it could never happen to me” we are setting ourselves up for disaster. Some time ago two women stood talking together in a Christian bookstore. One of them pointed at a book and piously said to the other, “This one’s called ‘The Divorced Christian.’ That’s a contradiction in terms, wouldn’t you say?” Her friend said, “I would certainly think so.” The sad thing about these women is if one of their husbands ran off with another woman, her pain would be compounded by the idea that God had turned his back on her. No matter how secure, how confident we may feel, don’t believe the lie that says “It could never happen to me.”
Three old men were having a conversation one day. The first said, “I think my mind is going. Some days I’ll go out to the shed to get a tool, and when I get there, I forget which tool I was after.” The second one said, “That happens to me. I’ll pick up the phone to make a call, and I forget who it was I was about to call.” The third one said, “I don’t have the problem, and hopefully I never will—knock on wood….Oh that must be someone at the door. I’ll get it.” Let’s not lie to ourselves. None of us is exempt from being hurt. We can’t say “My marriage is immune. My kids will never rebel. My job is secure. I’m as healthy as a horse. I will never fall into sin. I cannot be shaken.” The facts are our marriages aren’t invincible, our kids are far from perfect, our jobs are not guaranteed, and our health is fragile. We each are capable of sins that we feel are beyond us. Let’s not lie to ourselves about it, but be prepared for the day of trouble when it comes. Second, we lie to ourselves by saying, “This incident will haunt me for the rest of my life.” Whether the hurt in our life is caused by our own sin or by the actions of others, we often tend to see ourselves as “tainted”, and therefore, worthless. People who have been divorced sometimes think, “I cannot be in a loving relationship now” or “I can never serve in the church again because of my past.” People who have been fired think, “No company would hire me now.” Women who have been raped think, “No one will want me now.” People who have serious health problems think, “There’s no contribution that I could possibly make now.” People who have failed morally think, “God could never love me now…or use me now.” People who have been hurt sometimes think, “I can never be happy again.” These statements simply are not true. If we’re hurting right now we need to realize that the pain does not need to haunt us forever. God’s grace is larger than any painful experience we may have had. The last half of verse 5 we find a promise from God, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” The hurt we feel now will not last forever. It may hurt at this moment, but God promises that we will experience again a time of rejoicing. Someone may say, “Wait a minute. The hurts in my life have been caused by own sin. I have made a wreck of things and it’s my fault. God has every right to be mad at me.” Well, he may indeed be angry, and if so the first part of verse 5 is for just such a situation: (verse 5) “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” Does God get angry at our sin? Sure he does – sin violates his character, it is choosing our way above his way and it does nothing but damage us. However, does God hold it against us forever? No, he doesn’t, because he forgives us. Not only does he forgive, but he also forgets! If we are hurting right now let’s not lie to ourselves about our situation. It will not haunt us forever. God will not hold something against us forever. He will restore us and fill our lives with joy. To cope with the hurts of life, we must face the truth of our situation.
Second, to cope with the hurts of life, we must reach a turning point. What is the turning point? It is turning away from our own strength and turning towards God’s strength. David said, (verse 8) “To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:” God does not want us to try to handle our hurts on our own; he wants us to turn to him. If we are facing problems in our marriage, he doesn’t want us to try to fix things on our own; he wants us to turn to him. If we have been mistreated by someone else, he doesn’t want us to seek to even the score; he wants us to turn to him. If we are facing an illness or some kind of impending disaster, he doesn’t want us to face it on our own; he wants us to turn to him. If we are guilty of sin, he doesn’t want us to die on the cross of our own consequences to pay for own wrongdoing; he wants us to turn to him. God is offering a way through our trials. He is offering eventual relief from the hurt in our life. He is offering to take away misery and fill our lives with joy. However, before he can do any of these things, we must reach a turning point in our life, a point where we turn away from self-reliance and turn to him. It’s as simple as saying, “Lord, I can’t handle this on my own. I need your help.” Of course, it sounds simple, but for many of us it’s not easy getting to that point. Instead, we go through life fighting and losing the same battles day after day, year after year.
One man told the story, “When I was 10 years old my father abandoned us. He left without saying good-bye and I never heard from him again. It destroyed my childhood. “And then, 22 years later—almost to the exact day—I left my family.” This man struggled with a hurt all of his life, but he never reached the turning point. He was never willing to say, “God, I can’t handle this alone. I need your help.” David says to God in verse 10, “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” God wants to heal the hurts in our life. In order for him to do so, we must reach a turning point.
Then, to cope with the hurts of life, we must expect God to deliver us. There is good news for us: If we feel we have reached rock bottom in our lives, God is able to save us from our situation. There is even better news: We don’t have to wait until we reach rock bottom. At whatever stage in the process we turn to God, he will hear your prayer and begin to work in our behalf. David says in verse 2, “O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” These words are good advice for handling life’s hurts. When we turn to God for help, he delivers us. We can always count on him. Listen to what David says in verses 1-3, “I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.” Then David continues to say in v. 11, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,” Right now we may still be in the “wailing” stage, but once we turn our situation over to God, we can put on our dancing shoes, because he will work to change our situation. He has promised to take away our sackcloth–the clothes worn in Biblical times during a time of mourning — and he will clothe us with joy. We can expect it to happen. For a few our situations, we may even smile about them later, that they seemed so severe to us at the time. Still, there are some hurts that will never make us laugh. We will never look back at a divorce and laugh, or look back the death of a loved one and laugh, or look back at being abused and laugh. There’s nothing funny about any of those things. The important thing we need to realize is that the hurt we experience today will not keep us from laughing tomorrow. God will take the pain, anger and frustration we feel now, and replace it with his joy. He will give us cause for dancing. In a sense, we will be able to look back and laugh—because the hurt no longer hurts. The setback that could have destroyed our life has been overcome by God’s mercy, and he has filled our life with joy in spite of it. Today, God wants our praise. He wants our devotion. He wants our ALL. He wants to enable us to cope with the hurts of life. If our heart has been silenced by hurt, God wants to give us something about which we can sing. David ends the psalm by saying, “O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
Today, as we think about the hurts in our life, we must realize there is only one way we can truly cope with them. Whether we have been a Christian for thirty years or whether we have never followed Jesus, the prescription is the same: we must turn to God, and allow him to make a difference.