For me hurt is more distracting than anger. I have come to realize with age that most things are not worth becoming angry over, especially for what anger can do to our minds and our bodies. But hurt is something we seem to want to hang onto. Being a victim is good--it lets us off the hook for any wrong we might have done and puts everyone on our side whether we deserve it or not. But while we are busy nursing our hurt like some sort of wound sustained in heroic conflict, we are not completing our mission as disciples; in fact, we are helping Satan complete his.
Jesus shows us one way to avoid the distraction of “hurt feelings.” Everywhere he went he was received as an important new rabbi, a teacher worth listening to, even when people might disagree. Everywhere, that is, except home. Matthew 13 tells us the story of his preaching at Nazareth, his home town. Did they listen? Did they accord him any respect at all? No, they were too busy wondering among themselves what had happened to the little boy raised by the carpenter, the one who used to run and play with a whole brood of brothers and sisters. Wasn’t he cute? How could that little guy have anything of importance to say? And that was probably what the nicest of those folks thought. In fact, the first few verses of Mark 6 make it plain that their unbelief was palpable. Jesus was totally amazed.
So what did he do? Did he leave with hurt feelings? Did he go mope in the wilderness? Did he sit around the fire with his apostles recounting all the wrong done him? The very people he had known all his life, whom he might have expected to produce the most followers, rejected him. No, he avoided the distraction of hurt feelings by refusing to take it personally. Instead he made note of a trait of human nature: a prophet is not without honor except in his own country. None of the commentators I checked think this was an old proverb, but it was certainly true. Jesus must have seen it before. I have certainly seen it since. Jesus told himself, “This isn’t about me; it is just the way people are. They would have treated anyone else in my position the same way,” and then he moved on to complete his mission.
I was woefully ill-prepared to be a preacher’s wife. I thought everyone loved preachers and their families because my family did. When I was growing up, they were in our home often, and remained friends through the years. At the age of 20, a brand new preacher’s wife, I was shocked to the core to find out that not everyone was like that. By 26 I had finally come to grips with the fact that some people just don’t like preachers and their families on general principle. That was especially obvious when we had lived in a place less than a week before one of the women there called to bawl me out about something she thought I should have done the one time I was ever in her presence. It wasn’t about me, it was about what I was, so I just shook it off and went on about my job, standing beside a man who took far more abuse than I did just because of what he was, a preacher.
And since then, I have talked with many young women, not necessarily preachers’ wives, who are shocked at the behavior of others, who are hurt over misunderstandings and the resulting mistreatment. How did this happen, they wonder? Sometimes it is just human nature trumping the new nature a Christian is supposed to have because not everyone fights the battle, they just wear the name. It happens because of who they are, not because of how they feel about you personally, and you need to learn the lesson and move on. While expecting better of your brothers and sisters, even of the world in general, you must also learn not to become discouraged when you are disappointed.
Jesus knew the secret—it isn’t about me, it’s about what I represent and how that affects their lives. Don’t be distracted by feelings of hurt or anger or bitterness. Get on with it! Don’t let the devil win one by moping around when you could be out there showing others how to handle slights and insults. A soul I lose because I sit down and cry over my own hurt feelings, pitying myself for how mean “they” were to me, is my fault and no one else’s.
Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you, Matt 5:11,12.