ODJ: Shooting the Wounded

April 13, 2018 

READ: Psalm 12:1-8 

I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them (v.5).

I’ve heard it said that “the church is the only institution that shoots its wounded.” Sadly, the idea possesses a real grain of truth. It’s not unusual for local churches to botch a crisis situation, causing members to leave deeply hurt.

I observed this when a teenager was abused by the family she was living with. Several women rallied to the girl, sharing their own stories of abuse, but the church leadership mishandled the situation. Later she said, “I had done nothing wrong, but the pastor treated me as if I had.” No process of restoration for the family was ever put in place. Eventually, many left that church.

What do we do when we’ve been hurt by a church? One thing we can do is ask God what He might want from us. Perhaps He will use us to open the door to reconciliation.

Other times, however, it becomes clear that the powerful party—that is, the church leadership—is the offending party, and they aren’t going to repent. When we’ve been wounded by those entrusted with our souls, we may wonder where we can turn.

At times the intense emotions in the Psalms may feel hard to relate to, even cliché. But after we’ve felt the raw sting of a wound from someone responsible to care for us, such psalms come alive. When David says, “Neighbours lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts,” we relate to his pain (Psalm 12:2). And when he says, “Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,” we realise he’s learned to trust God during incredibly painful times (v.7).

If you’ve been wounded by someone in the church, you can read the Psalms with new eyes. It’s no cliché to say you can find hope in the God who rescues and restores (v.5).

—Tim Gustafson

365-day plan: 1 Kings 3:1-15

Read Psalm 4:1-8 and look for ways you can relate to the writer. 
In what ways have you been betrayed? How have you betrayed another? From whom do you need to seek forgiveness?