You may have been abused by shepherds who should have restored you but instead chose to condemn you (or worse). Or perhaps you have been neglected by churchgoers who should have cared enough to seek you out and return you to the flock. I do not deny that many of us have been victims of the sinful, selfish, and hurtful acts of those in and around the church.
But we must also acknowledge the real possibility that sometimes we choose to remain victims when we have the opportunity to move on. It is a waste of our spiritual potential to fixate on how events of the past could have or should have been different. Most of us who have been hurt could persuade any jury that the treatment we received from other Christians should have been different. But here is the truth: THINGS ARE NOT DIFFERENT.
No amount of time spent dwelling on how another sheep hurt us or should have done something different will change our present situation.
Imagine that you have been shot and rushed to the emergency room. Would you spend all of your time worrying about who shot you? Or do you think your first concern might be to survive?
With physical hurts, we immediately seek help. But emotional and spiritual hurts seem to engender a response unlike any other wound. When we are "shot" by people in the church, we tend to focus on the shooter, not the Healer. This is one of our Enemy's most effective distraction strategieshe knows that healing is available, and he does not want us to get it.
Satan would have us forget that being broken is an integral part of God's plan for our growth. The apostle Paul, who begged God to remove his affliction, came to an important realization:
And then he told me, "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message)
Paul "quit focusing on the handicap." This action is essential to recovery. Sadly, many of us stop acting when we are broken, but this point of resignation is just short of the point where we can receive God's healing.
No More Obstacles
In the Gospel of John we see an example of how Christ asked a seeker to leave his woundedness behind, knowing that he could never again fall back on that as his identity.
Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick peopleblind, crippled, paralyzedwere in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, "Do you want to get well?"
The sick man said, "Sir, when the water is stirred, I don't have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in."
Jesus said, "Get up, take your bedroll, start walking." The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. (John 5:19)
First, Jesus asked the invalid if he wanted to get well. What an amazing demonstration that God will not force himself on anyone, no matter how obvious the need, if we don't make a decision to receive his healing. This man had apparently embraced victimhood for thirty-eight long years. So when Jesus asked him the question, the man launched into victim-speak instead of answering: