What Do I Do When I Am Hurting?
The goal for this week’s group time is to get students to realize that praising God for who He is and what He has done gets us through difficult circumstances. Minimizing the pain of a circumstances or belittling a tragedy only leads to frustration and disillusionment. God’s word never instructs to ignore pain and hurt, but rather to praise God in the midst of it. Jesus even expressed grief by weeping over Lazarus’ death (Jn. 11:35). However, after Jesus wept he opened his following prayer with, “Father, thank you for hearing me” (Jn. 11: 41).
Sadness and joy complement each other by one causing the other to shine. Its sadness that makes the joyous feelings be felt more intensely.
For example, furniture must go through a rough sanding process before it will take a new stain. When others see newly finished furniture they see only the shimmering coat of shellac, but only the craftsman remembers the harsh stripping and sanding done beforehand.
The feelings of sadness should never be rushed through for the purpose of getting to joy, because wading in the waters of pain makes the warm dry towel of joy afterwards feel all the more comforting. Just as a young child gets indigestion after racing to finish his/her broccoli to get to the ice cream course, so numbing ourselves to pain causes us to be calloused to joy.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds of God will: “Always be joyful, never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Instead of seeing sadness as the antithesis of joy, see it as the ore from which joy is mined. At first glance the untrained eye may see only dirt and rock, but a skilled miner devotes time to work through the convoluted ore to extract a valuable metal. The same is true with hurt in our lives, patiently allowing others to empathize and remaining obedient to Christ through it all allows the Almighty Craftsman to cultivate within us a mature and Christ-like heart that only pain could produce.
So as your students express hurt and seek a solution to quickly rid themselves of their ill feelings, empathize with them and remind them of the goodness of God, then watch how over time God turns their greatest pain into their greatest passion.