Because we live on a broken planet, no one is immune from painful emotions. We all get hurt. As pastors, even we have hidden hurts from the past. We carry wounds, battle scars, and emotional pain—often more than most.
We also spend a lot of time helping others recover from the pain of their past. But here’s the good news: God cares about the emotional pain we carry.
He wants to restore us from the painful emotions that keep us from the life and ministry he has called us to embrace.
Here’s how God restores us from three of the most damaging emotions in our lives.
- God removes our guilt.
Guilt can be overwhelming. And since we’re all imperfect, we all experience guilt at certain points in our lives. We can’t escape it either. It’s in our minds, so we carry it wherever we go.
We come up with different solutions for getting rid of guilt. We often minimize, rationalize, or compromise it. But none of those solutions fully satisfy us.
Only one response to our guilt really works. It’s the most basic truth of Christianity. Jesus paid for our sin and “bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV). We just need to place our trust in him and what he has done for us.
Pastor, even though you accepted that truth, whether recently or many years ago, and have likely preached on it many times, it’s possible you haven’t really let it sink into your own life.
Paul described the power of God’s forgiveness in our lives when he wrote: “God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins. God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14 CEV).
Our sin was forgiven the very first time we confessed it. God nailed it to the cross with Jesus. Stop punishing yourself for sin Jesus has already paid for.
- God relieves our grief.
Sometimes we face grief because of a loss in our lives. It could be the loss of a person we love. Maybe it’s the loss of a role we once had as a parent, an employee, or a friend.
If that’s you, I’m sorry you are hurting. God knows what you’re going through, and he cares about that pain. You can choose to have a pity party. You can withdraw from everybody around you.
Or you can let Jesus restore your soul.
King David understood grief. As he grieved for the child that came from his improper relationship with Bathsheba, he guided us through God’s process for restoring his soul.
- Accept what can’t be changed (2 Samuel 12:22-23): All the grieving in the world won’t change the past. Acceptance is the first step to healing the mind, will, and emotions.
- Play it down and pray it up (Psalm 37:5): As you grieve, don’t exaggerate your pain; dedicate the pain to God. Ask God to help you make it through and be better because of the pain.
- Focus on what’s left, not on what’s lost (2 Samuel 12:24 GW): God isn’t finished with your life. The loss you’re grieving hurts, but you don’t need to let it devastate you. The rest of your life can be the best of your life.
- God replaces our grudges.
Resentment never hurts the other person. It only hurts you. The other person might be totally oblivious that you’re even thinking about them. They’ve gone on with their life. Never allow someone who has hurt you in the past to continue to hurt you in the present!
Your past is past. Those who have hurt you cannot hurt you anymore unless you keep rehearsing the hurt in your mind. Every time you rehearse that resentment, they’ll hurt you again.
Job reminds us of the foolishness of holding on to resentment. “You are only hurting yourself with your anger” (Job 18:4 GNT).
But you can be rest assured that one day God will settle the score. When he does, every painful word, horrible action, and unfair response will be called into account. Paul reminded us of this when he wrote, “Don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge” (Romans 12:19 CEV).
If you try to avenge the wrong yourself, it will eat you up. In the meantime, God tells us to get rid of all bitterness (Ephesians 4:31). And since you’ve been forgiven by God, he expects you to forgive others. You will never have to forgive another person more than God has already forgiven you.
God wants to take the painful moments of your life and turn them into good. That’s exactly what he’ll do if you let him.
Seeing God as your Shepherd is one of the most powerful pictures from Scripture of the character of God. Shepherds often rescue and restore sheep that are “cast down,” which usually means they’ve fallen on their backs and can’t get up. It’s very serious. Sheep in that position are vulnerable to attackers. Plus, in that position, they collect gas in their stomachs. Their stomachs harden and cut off their air passages. Sheep in this condition will suffocate in a few hours.
When a shepherd restores a cast down sheep, it doesn’t just happen immediately. First, the shepherd loving massages the four legs to improve circulation. Then, he begins to talk in a reassuring tone to the sheep, “You’re going to make it.” Then, he gently turns the sheep over, puts his hand under its belly, and lifts it up because it struggles to stand with wobbly feet. He holds it there while the sheep gets its equilibrium back. When the shepherd realizes the sheep can stand on its own feet, the shepherd will lovingly and gently let the sheep go.
That’s a great picture of what God wants to do for you! When you’re on your back and flailing with grief, guilt, or grudges, you think you’ll die in that position. But God comes and reassuringly picks you up and stands you up straight. Then he carries you until you can walk on your own.
Only God can restore you like that.