What’s your natural response when someone hurts you? Mine is to stew about what’s happened or been said, and then I have internal conversations that sound something like, “I can’t believe she said those things about me,” or “How could she do such a thing? What’s wrong with her thinking?”
Our natural response is to take offense—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot—and hang onto it. After we’ve had a chance to process what’s happened, we might ask God to forgive the offender. Or maybe we’ll ask Him to get even.
But here’s the thing—if we profess to be Jesus’ followers, then we need to do as He did.
Jesus was innocent of all wrongdoing yet He suffered ridicule and an excruciating death. As He hung on the cross, a crowd gathered to watch and soldiers gambled for His clothing. A lesser man might have spent His dying breath uttering curses over them, but Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive these people for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus recognized that the crowd who cheered for His crucifixion and the soldiers who hammered spikes through His hands and feet were not His real enemies. The unseen forces of evil led by Satan himself were the ones bent on His destruction. Knowing this, Jesus was able to pray for those who mocked and crucified Him.
Consider this truth when someone hurts you deeply: “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
When someone hurts you, remember that he or she is not your real enemy. Their behavior is rooted in unresolved issues and sadly, you’re taking the brunt. Hurting people hurt people.
When someone hurts you, spend your emotional, mental, and spiritual energy fighting the real enemy—Satan. He wants to keep the offender stuck in whatever issue they’re struggling with, and he wants to sink you in anger and unforgiveness. Let’s commit to not giving him the upper hand.
One of the most important battle strategies, then, is to pray. Here are some suggestions for how to pray when someone hurts you.
- Ask God to help you see the offender through His eyes. Maybe this person is under alot of stress at home or work and is at her wit’s end. That doesn’t make it okay to treat others poorly, but it might explain a few things. Maybe she needs understanding and a helping hand—a practical demonstration of kindness that will help her survive the challenges she faces.
- Ask God to show you the root of her behavior so you can target your prayers. Maybe the offender’s behavior is rooted in jealousy toward you. Don’t just pray that the relationship will be restored, pray for her to realize that she’s jealous and why, and that she will develop contentment with her circumstances instead.
- Ask God to ensure the offender’s well-being in every part of who she is—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Doing so is akin to donning protective gear against anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. It’s impossible to harbour anger and unforgiveness when praying for the offender to flourish.
- Ask God to bring the offender to repentance, restore her soul, and lead her in paths of righteousness.
Here’s a suggested prayer: “Holy Father, thank You for Christ’s example when He did the hard thing and prayed for the forgiveness of those who killed Him. Please give me the strength and integrity to respond to my offender in the same way. Lord, do not hold this offense against her, but draw her to repentance. Grant her an accurate understanding of who You are and of Your free gift of grace and forgiveness. Give her a heart that seeks after You. Lead her to a place of freedom from strongholds in her life. Restore her soul and lead her in paths of righteousness. I ask this on the basis of who You are—the God of truth and justice, the God who promises to be my Defender. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
May this song by Matthew West bless you today, my friend.