Home > Articles > When You're Hurt by the Church
When You're Hurt by the Church
Letting go of victimhood.

Sign up for our free Building Church Leaders newsletter:

Also of Interest
Teaching Your Congregation to Age Well
Biblical insight for faithfulness in any stage of life.

Volunteer Youth Leader
Resources to help youth ministry leaders fit into their roles.

The Campus Confession Booth
What I considered a horrible idea turned into a moment of transformation.

Mentoring That Makes a Difference
Encouragement can help people discern God's will for their lives.

You may have been abused by shepherds who should have restored you but instead chose to condemn you (or worse). Or perhaps you have been neglected by churchgoers who should have cared enough to seek you out and return you to the flock. I do not deny that many of us have been victims of the sinful, selfish, and hurtful acts of those in and around the church.

Bring 'Em Back Alive
By Dave Burchett
WaterBrook Press, 2004
240 pages; $9.99

But we must also acknowledge the real possibility that sometimes we choose to remain victims when we have the opportunity to move on. It is a waste of our spiritual potential to fixate on how events of the past could have or should have been different. Most of us who have been hurt could persuade any jury that the treatment we received from other Christians should have been different. But here is the truth: THINGS ARE NOT DIFFERENT.

No amount of time spent dwelling on how another sheep hurt us or should have done something different will change our present situation.

Imagine that you have been shot and rushed to the emergency room. Would you spend all of your time worrying about who shot you? Or do you think your first concern might be to survive?

With physical hurts, we immediately seek help. But emotional and spiritual hurts seem to engender a response unlike any other wound. When we are "shot" by people in the church, we tend to focus on the shooter, not the Healer. This is one of our Enemy's most effective distraction strategies—he knows that healing is available, and he does not want us to get it.

Satan would have us forget that being broken is an integral part of God's plan for our growth. The apostle Paul, who begged God to remove his affliction, came to an important realization:

And then he told me, "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message)

Paul "quit focusing on the handicap." This action is essential to recovery. Sadly, many of us stop acting when we are broken, but this point of resignation is just short of the point where we can receive God's healing.

No More Obstacles

In the Gospel of John we see an example of how Christ asked a seeker to leave his woundedness behind, knowing that he could never again fall back on that as his identity.

Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, "Do you want to get well?"
No First PageNo Previous Page Page 1 of 3 Next PageLast Page
share this pageshare this page

Topics:Compassion, Conflict, Conflict resolution, Congregational care, Counseling, Discipleship, Healing, Pastoral Care, Shepherding, Spiritual Care, Spiritual Growth
Filters:Church staff, Counseling, Discipleship, Elder, Pastor, Pastoral care, Shepherd, Spiritual director
References:John 5:1-9, 2 Corinthians 12:9

User Reviews

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–5 of 38 comments

Justin Brown

July 18, 2015  4:52pm

You asked why did Jesus ask the invalid if he wanted to be healed. I think the better question is why Jesus didn't heal all the sick people who were there around Solomon's porch. I believe the Holy Spirit is showing us God's Sovereignty. Healing is not a choice. Job could not will himself whole. Timothy could not will his stomach better. Paul had healing power yet left Trophimus at Miletum sick. As a Christian who has had a surgery that went bad and has stolen 12 years of health, I get a little sick of the pie-in-sky advice. Someone like me just wants to being loved and understood that there is a reason we are not all happy-happy like everyone else. We need a little more grace than the average joe.

Report Abuse


May 04, 2015  7:56pm

Same here. No one cared when I was desperately needing help. What's a church when it doesn't flow out the love of God?

Report Abuse

dave janda

March 20, 2015  12:06pm

I feel ya Cassie I use to go to church. But all I got there when I needed them most was judgment and worse silence of my so called friends..and they made me lie to my daughter when I said to her "these people will be here for you when u need it" ya right...

Report Abuse

Cassie Sanders

March 24, 2014  12:21pm

I have been physically and mentally abused and it's the hardest pill to swollow ... It's just so hard understanding WHY the jealousy and envy .. It would take days to even tell you what I went through and still going through ...I can say this ..Is it normal to leave the Church every Sunday in tears and not tears of joy ..Start off happy go Lucky and then BAM tears and panic attacks ..I'm just asking ?????

Report Abuse


January 26, 2014  5:22pm

Having been hurt by several 'hireling' it is a real challenge to trust and having seen so many people neglected by so called shepherds it does not engender the desire to have fellowship as we should do. The real shame is that we live in the day when right is called wrong and wrong is called right, so there is always an excuse for failure to Love. Care. Respect Consider Our traditions have become more important than love, truth or mercy

Report Abuse

Submit Your Rating and Review *



1000 character limit

* Comments may be edited for tone and clarity.

Member Center
Log in

Meet Our Editorial Advisors

We Recommend

More from Christianity Today