Posted by: Rex Boyles | September 23, 2007

“Where does it hurt?”

A mother asks a crying child, “Where does it hurt?”

A doctor asks a moaning patient, “Where does it hurt?”

A counselor asks a sighing client, “Where does it hurt?” 

There are several ways that question is asked without using those words: “What’s wrong?” … “Are you okay?” … “Is there anything I can do?” Regardless of the words we use – we recognize when someone is hurting. But even if we cannot “put our finger on it”, we have a sense when things are just not right … a friend doesn’t call … a brother misses church … a sister seems irritable … all ways (and so many more) to notice that someone is hurting.   So where does it hurt?   I can’t answer for anyone else; but if you are asking me, I will tell you. 

It hurts in my soul. I dishonored God. When I read Isaiah’s lament, “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles, because of you”; I bear that responsibility. As surely as King David has to bear that shame, I do too. Do not misunderstand. I sinned many times before “the Sin” – the sin that will forever be associated with my name – and each one was a grievous disobedience of God’s will. But because “the Sin” was public … because I was a preacher (therefore, deserving of heavier judgment), my behavior gave unbelievers “reason” to mock God and/or God’s people. I hate that; but in truth – every sin I commit is an offense to God. Shouldn’t it “scare Hell” out of me, when I disobey the Father of my life? Should it not break my heart, when I rebel against the Lover of my soul? So … yes, it hurts. I live every day with the thought – “I can’t believe I did that!” My morning prayer has not changed in seven years – “I am sorry, God”. Of course, that confession is followed up, every morning, with “Thank you, God.” 

It hurts in my heart. I not only dishonored God; I hurt people that I love very much. My mother and father taught me better than that. I know that they hated what I did; but they loved me, and their “love covers a multitude of sin”. Never … never once did they make me feel that they were ashamed of me. As for my son and daughter – I taught them better than that. I know that they were hurt by what I did and what “elder brothers” said and did to me … even to them; but they stood with me and never wavered in their love for me and their devotion to the Lord’s church. I also hurt the church that I loved for so long. In that church are people, who may never be able to forgive me. I understand. I do not begrudge their anger toward me … their embarrassment of me … their frustration with me. So … yes, it hurts.  

It hurts in my head. I am ashamed of what I did – ask God – ask anyone who knows me. I grieve over what I did – every day. I do not expect that to ever change. But I know enough about Jesus to know that if a sinner – even one guilty of something as shameful as what I did – confesses the sin, the blood of Jesus “purifies us from all sin” … that Jesus “speaks to the Father in our defense” … and even when our hearts condemn us – He is greater than our hearts. He does not excuse the sin; but neither does He condemn the sinner. He urges his disciples to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation”; but they did fall. And even then the disciple, who cursed and swore that he did not know Jesus, became the spokesman to introduce Jesus to the world. So … yes, it hurts. I cannot understand … why would people, who have been forgiven, withhold forgiveness from someone, who craves to be forgiven? Why would people, who claim to work for the Lord, refuse to work with someone who also works for the Lord? Why would someone, who has lived on the support of others, drop the support of someone, whom the Lord still supports? Why would someone, who has been spared shame (because their sins have never been made public), shame someone who already lives as the object of shame? Why would someone, who has been able to hide their sins, insist that someone, who begs to have their sins covered, wallow in their sin until they can do better? Why would someone, who has been given friendship, mistreat a friend, who needed a friend more than ever? Why would someone, who was never been accountable to anyone other than to the will and wisdom of God, require documented accountability to a probation board of human origin and earthly wisdom for someone, who has already proven their penance with years of faithful service and lifestyle? Why would someone, who has been cared for and comforted all of their lives, pass by on the other side, when they see someone, who needs some personal concern and comfort?  

NOTE: These questions are not theories – not imaginations – not “hypotheticals”; they are true to life – “real time” examples: of the abuses of the authority of leaders, who care more for procedure than people … of the fearful overreactions of public figures, who are worried about their images … of the self-righteous resentments of “the older brother”, who wants the prodigal to get what he deserves … of the naïve church members, who have never had to deal with this kind of thing before. (I am not addressing these issues, as they may or may not relate to me.) I have heard these things – each one of them – from people God has brought into my life – who are looking for someone to care for them (and reassure them of God’s care) – someone who will bind up their wounds and carry them to a safe place, where they can rest … heal … grow … serve. When I hear their pain, it hurts; and I want to be like one of those, who loved me … with a “keep no record of wrongs” … “bears all things” … believes all things” … “hopes all things” … kind of love.

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