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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bitter or Better? When Someone Hurts You

People that live closest to us seem to have the greatest potential to hurt us. Someone mistreats, annoys, or irritates us. Perhaps it’s what someone didn’t do or say that causes our rights to rise up and protest. When you feel hurt, stop and think.

Anger is not the solution. Neither is lashing out with gossip, withdrawing, taking revenge, or growing bitter. Forgiveness is the better way. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is the power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

When the Nazi’s occupied Holland, Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid Jews in their home. Consequently, they were sent to a concentration camp where millions were tortured, raped, and killed. Prison guards stood by mocking, sneering at women’s naked bodies as they shuffled to the showers.  Corrie survived, but her sister succumbed to the abuse. Corrie’s hate for one particular guard intensified.

Years later, Corrie returned to Germany for a speaking engagement on forgiveness. The guard Corrie hated was sitting in the church. His face radiant and smiling, he extended his hand saying, “Ah dear sister Corrie, isn't it wonderful how God forgives?”

Rage surged in Corrie. Grief overwhelmed her as memories of all the evil he had done to her and her beloved sister prevailed. Suddenly, the Lord said, “Corrie, put out your hand.” Corrie didn't feel like it, but out of sheer obedience she extended her hand. After that, she testified, “I felt something almost like warm oil being poured over me. And with it came the unmistakable message: ‘Well done, Corrie. That’s how my children behave.’” Since that moment, the hate left her.

Forgiveness doesn't excuse or condone others’ wrong or hurtful actions. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart and my heart.

“See to it that no-one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness infects and poisons you and me and others beyond anything we ever imagined. Bitterness is love’s enemy. But God offers His all sufficient help…His grace and power to forgive.

God knows exactly where to apply His healing grace in our hurting, wounded heart. When we feel hurt, let us cry out for His grace to identify and remove every trace of bitterness.

1.       Write down wrong attitudes, actions, and poisonous words which others have used to intentionally or unintentionally hurt you.
2.      Verbally, or in writing, prayerfully offer forgiveness to each one, no strings attached.
3.      Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart’s hurting places. Allow time to work through your feelings and experience healing. Release your hurts to God (1 Peter 2:21-23). A trusted friend or counselor may assist in this process.
4.      Listen for God’s response. Is He speaking Scripture to you? Are you to make amends? Perhaps pray, “Lord, show me how you see this person.”
5.      Set free from unforgiveness, now give thanks for God’s mercy and grace. Intentionally fill the empty places in your heart with God’s Word and praise. (John 8:26) God’s grace will flow through you to others, blessing everything and everyone you meet.


  1. I have always loved that story Pam. Interesting how Corrie was not asked to forgive when she was at Ravensbruck. Sometimes time and distance (from the offence) is needed to prepare us to forgive.

  2. "Forgiveness doesn't excuse or condone others’ wrong or hurtful actions. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart."

    Thank you for this. Forgiveness may be hard, but it should not stop us from trying.

    God bless.

  3. I agree with KC, at times it's difficult to forgive in that moment and it really does take distance from the person/s and situation, as well as some time to be able to even come to God to say, I am ready to ask you to help me forgive that person. When you do let it go, forgive etc... it is such a relief.

    1. Forgiveness begins with a choice. The sooner we make that choice, the "better" for us. After we make the choice, isn't it amazing how the Holy Spirit begins His cleansing, healing work? Bless you, Katherine.

    2. I forgive 70 x's 7. would you say God doesn't wnat us living in emoitionally and mental abusive relationships?

    3. Great question. This question must be addressed in prayer and with a qualified counselor. Dr. Bill Maier, Focus on the Family's counselor says, "Find a supportive counselor who can help you develop a plan to confront the abuse and protect yourself." Focus on the Family can refer you to a licensed Christian therapist in your community who has experience in dealing with domestic abuse. Recommended book: Wounded by Words: Healing the Invisible Scars of Emotional Abuse by Susan Titus Osborn

  4. I keep in mind how much I've been forgiven. Remember the parable of the unmerciful servant? The gift of forgiveness I've received helps me to offer that same gift to others. Bless you, Victor.

  5. Great insight, Pam!
    It is also good to remember, from Jesus' teaching on forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35), that the unforgiving servant went through torture because of his unforgiveness. The medical professionals acknowledge that unforgiveness is the root of some illnesses. And as you said, Pam, "forgiveness is not excusing the behavior that hurt us", but I would like to add, it is giving that hurt to God Who is the Judge of us all.

    1. I appreciate your comment Stewart. Actually, it's a confirmation for me on what I planned to write on for the next post. :) Stay tuned......God has a lot to say about unforgiveness. He wants His people to be set free to enjoy Him and one another.