When someone offends, hurts or victimizes us, we experience loss and pain, and our emotions need God’s “good grief” to heal that wound.
The reason it is “good grief” is because God meets us at our point of need. He brings comfort like only He can and begins the process of redeeming any harm done in our lives (Rom. 8:31-32, Phlp. 1:6).
We may find some closure through the releasing of our painful emotions even when we don’t turn to God and His “good grief.” But when we rely solely on human strategies, we miss out on so many blessings that God can bring to us in our grief—chief among them, His closeness.
Consider this …
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” –Psalm 34:17-18 (NIV)
Today I’m offering a simple way to begin with a grief exercise below. First off, find a private place to pray and express your emotions. In your emotional expression, focus on only one offender at a time and one event related to that person at a time. You can move on to other offenses as time permits.
Pray for God’s protection and comfort as you engage with the emotion—recalling the hurtful event in your mind’s eye. Let the tears flow and sadness to come to the surface. Express your anger, but refrain from extreme expressions of anger. If you begin to feel extreme anger, take a break and come back after you’ve calmed down. If you allow your emotions to reach a fevered pitch, you make it more difficult to replace them—which is one of the main goals as we continue in the forgiveness process. Use the questions below to facilitate this process. (I find that “writing out” your responses is very helpful and important to gaining clarity and perspective.)
Prayerfully Process the Pain
- What happened in this hurtful event? Describe it detail for detail through writing a prayer or directly telling it to God.
- What did you want from this person or the situation that you feel you did not get or that you feel was not fair or hurtful?
- What do you feel you lost and/or continue to lose as a result this conflict? List them.
- What do you feel about the losses your offender caused in your life? (Be as specific as possible, referring to “ for further help in description.)
Forgiveness through grieving the hurts done to us is not a one time shot …
It’s a continual leaning into the mercies, grace and comfort of God!
Remember, you wouldn’t take a shower one time and declare yourself clean for the rest of your life, would you? In the same way, we must be vigilant to keep our hearts clean, by the exercising of grief and forgiveness.
We may not always have time to grieve on the spot, so learning to pray a prayer similar to what the Psalmist prayed, like …
“Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.” –Psalm 70:5 (NIV)
… can bring God’s immediate comfort and strength in your moment of pain and need.* Later, we then can grieve and release this hurt to God during our daily time with Him—committing to this practice on a regular and ongoing basis. As we weave this into the fabric of our lives, our hearts become softer and more compassionate—less offendable. I will discuss that blessed result in a later post in our forgiveness series.
Our next step in our series is “The Pursuit of Perspective,” where I will discuss how to release our offenders and their offenses against us to God.
How serious are you about grieving the hurts in your life and finding God’s comfort in your time of need?
What hurts do you need to grieve more intentionally and completely?
Click the link to read more in this Forgiveness Series.
*Other Psalms you may want to use – Ps. 10:14, Ps. 40:1-2, Ps. 55:16, Ps. 94:18-19, Ps. 119:151.