Even despite our best efforts there are times when relationships can go wrong. Jesus had poured out His heart to His friends. Certainly, He tried to do everything right with respect to His relationship with them. Yet, even Jesus experienced the sorrow associated with relationships going wrong. What did our Lord do when His relationships with His friends went sour? The same things we need to do when relationships go wrong for us. When relationships go wrong, we need to . . .
1. Face The Hurt - v. 38
Before a physician can facilitate healing in our body, we must first acknowledge our need to be made well. Before the Lord can be free to work in our lives to heal our hearts or to heal a relationship, we must first acknowledge our need. for that to happen. We must face the hurt. Jesus did not deny or minimize His pain (v. 38). We must not either.
Many live in denial about hurt from past or present relationships that have gone wrong. Many are hindered in present relationships, because they have never faced the hurts from past relationships. Because of unresolved pain from the past, they find in their present relationships that they have difficulty being themselves, they have difficulty trusting others, or they simply live life alone and lonely, because they are afraid to risk being hurt again!
Some examples of relational hurts that people carry, according to Dr. David Ferguson of the Center For Marriage and Family Intimacy are: A. Physical abuse; B. Sexual abuse; C. Emotional or verbal abuse; D. Feelings of rejection caused by such things as parental divorce/death/adoption; E. Parental domination or withdrawal; F. Marital discord and/or divorce; G. Rejection/ridicule of peers, friends or loved ones.
Before we can apply the principles we are considering today from the example of Jesus, we must first seek to apply them to those hurts from the past. But whether our hurt is from a relationship in the past, or from a relationship in the present that has gone wrong, if we are going to experience the healing to our hearts, and hopefully, to our relationships, we must first face the hurt. In facing our hurt, we must seek to . . .
2. Face The Truth - vs. 39-41
A. Be Honest With Your Father - v. 39
Jesus was absolutely honest with the Father about His feelings, while being willing to submit to whatever the Father had in mind for Him. Likewise, whenever we are in a situation where a relationship has gone wrong, we need to honestly pour out our feelings to the Father and seek to submit to whatever he has in mind for us in that situation.
While it is true of every day we live, it is especially true in those days in which we are dealing with hurt resulting from a relationship gone wrong, that we need the Lord to reveal to us what has gone wrong and what we are to do about it. In a spirit of honesty and humility, we need to pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24. When we do this, God will give light to our situation, and as we walk in that light, we can see healing come to our hearts, and possibly, to the relationship that has gone wrong as well. But we must be willing to walk in the light God gives.
A pastor preached a series of sermons on guidance, and in the last message he encouraged folks by saying, “Follow the principles I have laid before you,” he said, “and let me know what happens.”
Weeks later, he noticed that one woman who had attended during the series on guidance was no coming - so he decided to contact her. He asked why she hadn’t been to church in a while. She said was disappointed when applying the principles he had taught on guidance. “What happened?” he asked. “Did you not receive any guidance?” “Oh, I did,” she replied, “It came to me that I ought to write to my sister-in–law, who I haven’t spoken with in several years.” “Well, what’s the problem?” he asked. She replied, “You don’t understand, the problem is, I don’t want to do that.”
Let’s be careful not to let E.G.O. keep us from experiencing healing in our heart and possibly, our relationship (E.G.O. = Edging God Out).
B. Be Honest About Your Failures - v. 40
When we ask God to shed His light on our situation, He will reveal where our failure in the matter lies and where the failure of the other person or persons is as well. Jesus, being perfect and sinless, had no fault at all on this occasion, but such was not true of the disciples. The failure here, was all theirs.
Now, it rare when the fault is entirely on one side. But sometimes, that happens. In instances of child abuse, especially, this is true. But a more common occasion is when we are guilty of jumping to conclusions.
A woman invited her friends over for dinner. Wanting to impress, she hired a maid, butler, and chef. She purchased the best steaks she could find and a top brand of mushrooms to go with them.
When the chef saw the mushrooms were a bit discolored, the lady said to feed a few to the dog, since the hour was late and there was no time to purchase any more. “If the dog doesn’t get sick they’re probably all right.” The dog ate the mushrooms with no problem, so the chef completed the meal and served the guests.
As the dessert was served, the maid came and whispered to the lady, “The dog is dead!” She jumped up and told everyone they had eaten tainted mushrooms and needed to rush to the hospital!
Later, after everyone had returned from having their stomachs pumped, the lady asked the maid, “Where is the dog?” “Out in the back yard,” she said, “where he crawled after the car hit him!”
The moral of the story? Investigate a matter thoroughly before you leap to hasty conclusions that result in harsh consequences.
We must never pass judgment until every aspect has been scrutinized, and then only with great caution. This is how we must treat others, because this is the how we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
If I am responsible for a relationship going wrong by jumping to conclusions or in any other way, I need to admit it: first to God, and then to my friend.
But more often than not, blame in the situation is shared. Even so, our primary concern ought to be with how we contributed to the situation and what we might need to do to make things right.
We don’t need to be like Lucy was with Charlie Brown. One day, Lucy was leaning against a fence with Charlie Brown, and said, “I would like to change the world.” Charlie Brown asked, “Where would you start?” She replied, “I would start with you!”
In evaluating where the blame lies in any relationship that has gone wrong, I must understand that confession must come before confrontation.
It was only after He had spent time with the Father that Jesus confronted His friends with their failure. We need to follow that example in our relationships with others as well.
C. Be Honest About Your Flaws - v. 41
While Jesus confronted His friends about their failure, He also made note of the imperfection of all men, Now, again, Jesus was perfect and sinless. But if Jesus, who was perfect in every way, was willing to acknowledge that others would let Him down because they were imperfect, how much more should we, who are imperfect in many ways, be willing to extend leniency toward those who have hurt us? We must be careful about being judgmental about the failings of another.
“We want to judge others by performance,while we want to be judged by intention.” - Anonymous
We need to realize that each of us is an imperfect human being who is prone to failure. Therefore, as God extends grace to us, we should extend grace to one another. Extending grace toward those who have hurt us means that I must be willing to . . .
3. Forgive The Offender - Luke 23:34
On the cross, Jesus made the choice to forgive His offenders. He was able to do this because He had allowed the Father to help Him face the hurt and the truth about the situation.
It is only as we go to God with our hurt, face it and then allow Him to reveal where we have contributed to the situation, reminding us of our own imperfections, that we will be able to choose to forgive as well.
Conclusion: Have you dealt with the hurt you have experienced through a relationship gone wrong? Have you gone to God with it, and in a spirit of honesty and humility asked Him to reveal where you might have failed and how you are imperfect? It is only as I face the hurt and allow God to lead me to face the truth of the situation, that I will be enabled to forgive the offender.
As I am enabled to forgive, then healing can come to my heart. And possibly, healing can come to the relationship, although that depends on the other person.
Whatever becomes of that relationship, however, I do not need to continue to live with hurt in my heart. God can lead to you to healing for your present hurts. He can lead you to healing for your past hurts. He can lead you to healing for your eternal hurts.