Hurt and Relationships

“…visitors from the East…”

When Herod realized that the visitors from the East had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighborhood who were two years old and younger—this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared.” (Matthew 2:16)

These three characters have camped out in our front yard for the past several years during the Advent-Christmas season.  I call them the “Three Wise Guys.”  To some they’re just three funny likenesses for children – a funny dog, a penguin, and a snowman.  I call them the “Three Wise Guys” because they remind me of the three wise men in the birth narrative of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Matthew.  Three unlikely foreigners are invited to the party reminding us that God’s grace in this Christ Child is available for everyone!  This coming Sunday is Epiphany when we celebrate the story of the three wise men and God’s love for us all.

Approaching Epiphany this year I’ve found myself contemplating a question that I don’t think I’ve ever considered before now.  “I wonder how the wise men felt when they discovered that their trip to see the baby Jesus triggered the paranoia of King Herod, resulting in the deaths of many young children?”  The wise men must have been confused and hurt to find that their innocent and noble efforts to see and worship God in Jesus contributed to the slaughter of innocents.  After all, this encounter with God had been so powerful and inviting that it had caused them to seek and finally worship the God of the Jews who apparently had been unfamiliar to them before this event.  However, their best efforts to follow and worship also brought hurt for many. 

That describes life for us on many occasions, doesn’t it?  Even when we do our best to help, hurt occurs.  Even when our intentions are innocent and noble, hurt occurs.  It’s happened to you hasn’t it?  It’s certainly happened to me.  Maybe it’s been because we’ve acted too quickly before we fully understood the situation, or maybe it’s happened because we misunderstood.  Maybe the other person or persons misunderstood.  Maybe the hurt has occurred for reasons totally beyond our control.  Regardless, it’s happened.  Hurt has occurred even as we’ve tried to help or thought we were helping.  Sure, we’ve also hurt others when we’ve been careless, angry, or unthoughtful.  That kind of hurt is easier to understand and, I believe, makes it easier to seek healing.  However, it’s the hurt that’s been created even when we were doing our best to help another or when we were pursuing the noblest of actions that can leave us stymied if we’re not careful and contribute to the destruction of our relationships. 

Life is complicated.  If we’re not careful in these particular kinds of hurtful situations the hurt can cause us to walk away instead of renewing resolve to do whatever is necessary to allow God’s grace to bring healing and hope.  The hurt can sting enough to cause us to wonder, “Why bother?”  Regardless of how the hurt occurred, the relationship still warrants healing.  These are important times to give our hurt and confusion over to God and pray for the healing God brings in this newborn child.  We might never understand, but the relationship is still worth our efforts.  I pray that God will help me always to seek healing for relationships, even when I don’t understand the hurt.

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my new book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

Check out my new video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on January 2, 2013.

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