Friday, 28 December 2012

Recovering From Hurt, Part 2


A hurting person is a broken person. A healed person is a whole person. In one of F.W. Boreham's essay's on Thomas Huxley, he demonstrates why he was not only a prince among preachers and writers but also a prince among pastors. Professor Thomas Huxley was a friend of Charles Darwin and was so vigorous in his defence of Darwinism and opposition to Christianity, that he became known as "Darwin's Bulldog". Christian leaders of his day would preach against him and rail from their podiums how Huxley was as "cold as ice and as hard as steel". But Boreham shows that Huxley was actually a broken man!

Four years after the birth of his son, Huxley experienced heart-break. He wrote in his journal Thursday: Played with my four year old son ... Friday: My son has taken ill ... Saturday: I carried my cold, lifeless son into my study ...Sunday: Scarlet Fever, God knows, Amen.

Thomas Huxley
Behind his appearance of ice and steel was deep hurt. They say that "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." But they are wrong! There is a pain that comes from disappointment, disloyalty, denouncing, and defamation that hurts far more than the pain caused by any stick or stone! Thomas Huxley felt that pain and shook his fist at God. F.W. Boreham masterfully points out that the contemporary Christians misinterpreted this fist-shaking as purely an intellectual objection to God, the Bible and Christianty - when in fact, it was in reality the ache of a broken man. He wonders how things might have been affected if someone hadpastored Thomas Huxley. That is, listened to him, shared with him a fuller revelation of God from the Scriptures, and prayed with him? (You don't need the title "pastor" to do this.) After the death of his beloved son, Thomas Huxley wrote "Amen" in his journal, locked it, and never opened it again.

¶ There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1
The path to wholeness is wonderfully seen in Romans 8. A whole person is someone whose sins are forgiven and they now stand in Christ as a new creation (Romans 8:1-11). As a new creation, they have new ways to talk, new ways to react, and new ways to think (Romans 12:1-3).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Second Corinthians 5:17
As a hurt person, sometimes even the slightest criticism causes a reaction that is aggressive or deeply sullen. A whole person considers the criticism and evaluates it without malice toward their critic. A hurt person continually rehearses their hurt to others, whereas a whole person has chosen to put it behind them. Hurt people often withdraw from others. They either become independent, or overly dependent (thus continuing to set themselves up for disappointment). Worse still is when a hurt person finds another hurt person and they become co-dependent. This contrasts with a whole person who lives inter-dependently (relying on others and being relied upon).

It seems that Thomas Huxley never knew of the Saviour's willingness to forgive him especially since all he received from Christians was harsh judgment.

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:17
When you're broken, your resilience levels are extremely low. Whole people were broken people who had to learn to endure. Sometimes all you can do is just keep going. Romans 8:12-17 teaches that endurance requires a "putting to death" of fleshly )non-spiritual) desires and being led by the Holy Spirit. When you are led by the Holy Spirit you will discover that He calls you to walk humbly, love mercy, and to do justly which always involves treating people nicely who you would rather treat harshly. But the same Holy Spirit who calls us to reflect Christ in the way we treat others is the same Holy Spirit who helps us to do what He calls us to do.
so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Hebrews 6:12
The second step to becoming whole is learning to stand when you would ordinarily run to isolation, alcohol, your work, your toys, or your pills.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.Ephesians 6:13
Thomas Huxley probably had no close models of Christian endurance. Today we desperately need followers of Christ to toughen up and endure rather than withdraw from Church or following Christ for the flimsiest of selfish reasons, and to actually model forgiveness and reconciliation rather than pettiness and victim-posture.


A person will be hurt and broken for as long as they deny what has really happened (or is happening). Romans 8:18-25 introduces the hurting person to reality. Romans 8:20 would have to be one of the prime candidates for most confronting Bible verse. It states, without apology, that life is full of "futility" (disappointment, heart-ache, betrayal, sickness, divorce, death, and so on). But Romans 8:20 doesn't just state the obvious. It points the hurting to "hope" in the One who actually subjected all of creation to this state of things.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope.
Romans 8:20
Broken people struggle to accept that life is unfair at times. Whole people feel the same pain that hurt people do. But a whole person has life's setbacks sting them. A "sting" is pain that doesn't last. When a hurting person realises that bad things happen to good people, they are better able to process their pain. Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Holocaust Concrentration Camps, noted that the optimists were among the first to lose hope and die during their ordeal. Pessimists soon followed. It was the realists who stood the best chance of survival. Survivors of the Japanese Changi Prisoner of War Camp tell the same story. Facing reality, as unwelcomed as it may be, helps a person to become whole. This was dramatically demonstrated by former CIA Special Agent, Brian May, in the movie Taken, when he told his panicking daughter, "Listen to me...They are going to take you." Even though his daughter didn't want to hear that, she needed to hear it.

Thomas Huxley almost certainly did not understand this. He could not see any hope in the midst of his darkest hour - a time when a kind word, a listening ear, a heartfelt prayer may have made all the difference.


"Daddy! Catch me!" Ruby would cry out as she lept off a table into what she assumed would be my arms. It's no secret that my most often "go-to" verse in the Bible is Romans 8:28. In this section of Romans 8 (verses 26-31), we see that the fourth step to becoming whole is to trust God - despite our circumstances. Let the immensity of Romans 8:28 grab you by the shoulders and stare you down so that you are beckoned to look deep into its unfathomable eyes and get a glimpse of infinite peace.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
Like Ruby, if you begin to get Romans 8:28 you'll probably be more inclined to jump off life's tables and into the divine arms of your Father. When the painful stuff of life happens, a hurting person questions God's claim to be God. But a whole person worships. Thomas Huxley once asked a Christian colleague why he trusted Christ. After listening to him Huxley remarked, "I'd give my right arm to believe that!" These are not the sentiments of a man of ice or steel, but of a hurt man.


Romans 8:32-39 is literally infinitely profound. The fifth step to becoming a whole person is to realise, really realise, really really realise, that God is love. And to then apprehend the profundity of this pre-emminent truth: God loves you! wholeperson rests in this sublimely magnificent fact. In fact, if you "get" this truth, you will have done steps 1-4 as well as step 5! In other words, you can almost bypass steps 1-4 if you do step 5 (although steps 1-4 result from doing step 5).
No matter what happens in life, good or bad (and good is often more testing), the whole person knows to the core of their soul that they are loved by God. Prophetically when writing to the Romans, Paul actually lists what the Emperor was about to do to them: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword (Rom. 8:37). In just a few years after Paul wrote Romans, Caesar Nero would take many of Paul's Romans recipients and impale them naked on tree posts and smother them in pitch to be lit as human candles to mark the way to the night games at the Colosseum. When this happened, Paul wanted these Roman believers to know-
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:38-39
It's a shame Thomas Huxley didn't know that God loved him. Recently, Jim Daly (the head of Focus On The Family) met with a prominent homosexual activist after inviting him out for a coffee. As they spoke, Daly saw the activist for the first time as a fellow human for whom Christ died. He writes-
"As our initial conversation drew to a close," Daly says, "I had felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to share a thought with my new friend. 'You know'—I addressed him by name—'God loves you just as much as He loves me. Do you know that?' There was silence across the table as this man dropped his head and looked off to the side. He wasn't able to say a word in response. But he didn't have to say anything. I saw tears in his eyes."
[Refocus: A Life That Reflects God's Heart]
It's a shame that Thomas Huxley didn't have someone like Jim Daly take him out for a coffee and share with him step 5. The challenge for us today though is that we are surrounded by so many broken and hurting people who need to know how to be genuinely whole and need to see models of what wholeness looks like.


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