hope for churches in stress

Excess Baggage

When we have been hurt, our emotional reactions do not dissipate quickly. We may be troubled by painful memories, wrestle with guilt, or struggle with resentment—all internal residue (or baggage) of hurtful encounters. Such feelings skew our perspective, disrupt our choices, and impede our actions.

To discard harmful baggage, we can repair relationships with face-to-face confession (Mt. 5:23-24; 18:15). We can confront bad behavior (Eph. 4:15, 26). If we have resisted these hard conversations, we can do now what we could have done earlier.

When inner distress persists, we can take constructive action. We can resist the urge to retaliate in speech or action (Rom. 12:17). We can pray for antagonists and detractors (Mt. 5:44). We can bless adversaries with acts of kindness (Rom. 12:20-21; 1 Pet. 3:9).

We may need to forgive someone over and over (Mt. 18:21-22).

We may have to forgive ourselves (Eph. 4:32).

At times there is value in a symbolic gesture (Acts 19:18-19). If some tangible object can represent the distress, we can burn it or rip it and throw it in the trash.

Finally, we can accept the reality that deep hurts take time to heal. God is working, even amid recalcitrant emotions, to build our endurance and character (Rom. 5:1-5; 8:23-25). Jesus’ redemption is full and complete, and we can wait for it in hope (Ps. 130:7; Rom. 8:23-25).

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