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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - When Past Hurts Still Hurt

Craig Groeschel - When Past Hurts Still Hurt

Craig Groeschel - When Past Hurts Still Hurt
Craig Groeschel - When Past Hurts Still Hurt
TOPICS: Been There, Abuse

Well, today we're gonna talk about a subject that is not often discussed in churches, for a variety of reasons. It's one that impacts more people and more families than most people can choose to admit. It's a horrible problem that often goes unreported or unrecognized. Today we're gonna talk about abuse. What I'm also gonna do today is not easy to do, but I'm going to get very personal with you and I'm gonna share something that I've never shared publicly before. If you had asked me years ago, Craig, were you ever abused? I would've said confidently, no, not me. I never, never went through anything like that. But as I've grown in experience, I've learned to recognize that what I thought was normal, growing up in an alcoholic home, wasn't normal at all. And like so many others, I experienced abuse. Sadly and tragically, so many of you had similar experiences, many of you, much, much worse.

And I can tell you some statistics about it, but they are likely to be very, very incomplete, because like I said, so much of the horrible treatment that goes on goes unreported or is unrecognized. But what we do know from studies, I want to show you so you understand why we're talking about this today, it's been reported that over one in three women and one in four men in the US have experienced rape, violence, and/or stalking. We also know that almost 50% of adults in the US have experienced psychological aggression. And that according to the advocacy center, one in three girls and one in five boys are sexually assaulted by the age 18. 1 in 3. If there's three of you sitting together, you and one person on each side, the odds are horribly stacked against you that one of you may have been abused in a very horrific way. And what I want you to know, as your pastor, this completely breaks my heart, and more so, it breaks God's heart. And that's why it's important that we in the church acknowledge and talk about this issue.

And what I wanna do is like sincerely, I wanna apologize upfront, because whatever I say in a 30 minute message is gonna be absolutely, completely incomplete, there's no way that I can cover every angle on this subject, and so I apologize that I cannot do it. But what I can do is study, pray, and pray some more as I have, that God will do a work in whoever's heart needs a healing work. So if you are a victim of abuse, what I wanna try to do is give you permission, and even empower you to start the conversation if you never have before. And then I pray that it will continue in your life group, and I pray that it will likely continue in counseling, and I pray that you'll continue on a journey toward healing. And that's why I've entitled the message this week, When Past Hurts Still Hurts. And with that, I would invite you to go with me before God in prayer.

Heavenly Father, I pray with every bit of faith and love in my heart that your Holy Spirit would do a work in so many hearts today. God, would you start or continue the healing process in a way that only you can? We look to you, we trust you, we put our faith in you, we put our hope in you, believing, God, you hear the cries of our heart, and you'll bring healing, in Jesus' name. If you agree, would you say, amen? Amen.

You can type that in the chat section, amen, if you're with us. We're in a necessary called Been There. And as we've said in the previous weeks, for the most part, whatever pain that you're facing or whatever challenge you're enduring, Jesus has most likely been there. And the topic that we're covering today is no exception whatsoever. In fact, I wanna show you in Matthews Gospel, The Abuse Jesus Endured (Matthew 27) chapter 27, in six verses, six very short verse, a glimpse of the horror, the torture, the physical abuse, the emotional abuse, and the psychological abuse that Jesus endured. Six verses give us a glimpse into why Jesus understands what you may have been through. Matthew 27:26, we'll start here, When Matthew tells us this, "That Pontius Pilate had Jesus flogged and handed Him over to be crucified".

We'll stop there and come back to it. He handed Him over to be flogged. And according to one commentary that I read, it's likely that there were four different times that Jesus was stripped naked, and then reclothed, and stripped naked, and reclothed, and stripped naked four different times. This would've been the first. And the reason they stripped Him before they flogged Him was likely twofold. One was to increase the physical pain. Two was to increase the emotional shame, because if you could imagine, Jesus, the son of God, would've been handcuffed naked to a post while they beat Him, which some experts would say was not only physical abuse but was sexual abuse as well. And they used a horrible weapon of torture called the flagrum or the flagellum, which was a whip that had several leather strips with bone, or metal, or glass woven into the edges of the leather. And the Roman guard would then whip Jesus or the victim on one side over, and over, and over again until that side was ripped to shreds.

Then they would change the angle and whip the other side so that both sides would be shredded. Then if the Roman guard got tired, they would actually bring in secondary guard to continue this, because the Jews limited it to 39 blows, but the Romans had no limit on the amount of blows that they would throw on somebody. The victim would usually vomit, they would often have uncontrollable tremors, many of them would pass out, and some would die even before they got to the crucifixion. We read about this, that Pontius Pilate had Jesus flogged, one little sentence that has chapters and chapters of horror and pain for Jesus. "They had Him flogged, they handed Him over to be crucified. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand, then they knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. 'Hail, king of the Jews', they said".

Scripture goes on and says, "They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on their head again and again". And what was He wearing on His head? The crown of thorns, like fiery spikes, being driven into His brow as they beat Him over and over again in the head. "After they mocked Him, they took off the robe and put on His own clothes on Him, then they let Him away to crucify Him". Then they let Him away to crucify Him, one sentence, again, with chapters of pain. If you don't know much about the crucifixion, I don't have time to do it justice. But the word excruciating, excruciating pain is a word that we get from crucifixion, ex means out of, crucifix is the cross, excruciating pain means out of the cross. The flogging was just the warmup for the real torture.

And as you likely know, they would drive stakes through the wrists and through the heels or through the feet, and then stripped naked, again, to shame them, with their back a bloody pulp, up against the horrible wood of the cross. The only way that the victim could get a breath would be to pull up on their hands, and you can imagine the excruciating pain, or push up on their feet to try to get a breath as they baked in the heat of the sun, often going crazy, begging, begging, begging for someone to kill them, that they would die. They would often go mad in their mind and they would fight for every single breath, suffering beyond measure. So for those of you who suffered abuse, Jesus has been there. Jesus knows what you went through. He's been there.

Sadly, so often in our faith communities, Difficulties of Sharing About Abuse in Faith Communities people feel ashamed or afraid to talk about abuse. And honestly, I can kind of understand why they would. Oftentimes there are people that just don't believe their abuse was real. They'll minimize it or they'll say, they really couldn't have happened. Sometimes they won't only minimize the abuse, but they'll actually blame the person that was abused and say, it was your fault, or you probably had it coming, or you did something to deserve it, or it wasn't really that bad anyway. And then unfortunately in our faith community, sometimes there are those who simply see abuse as physical abuse, which physical abuse is abuse, but it's only one type of abuse. I could give you a much longer list, and this list is not exhaustive, but I wanna show you four of the major types of abuse.

We know that there is physical abuse, there's also sexual abuse, there's emotional abuse, and there is something called spiritual abuse. Physical abuse may seem obvious, and it's what you would think, it's hitting, or pushing, or choking, or biting, or kicking. Sexual abuse would be any unwanted sexual behavior imposed on another without consent. That would be rape, that would be date rape, that would be rape in marriage, that would be sexual assault, that could be inappropriate touching, it could be inappropriate sexual comments, it could be harassment at work, and unfortunately it could be so much more. There is emotional abuse, which is sadly, according to research, the most common in families in homes, and this would be verbal abuse, it would be name calling, it would be controlling another person, it would be a constant ongoing criticizing or an isolating, you can't go anywhere, it could even be an economic or financial abuse, it can be shaming, or gaslighting, it can be blaming, it can simply be threatening abuse.

It's threatening to leave, it's threatening divorce, it's threatening suicide, it's threatening to harm someone if you ever tell anyone about this. Abuse is the monster that shows up in many different forms. There's spiritual abuse. And unfortunately this is relatively common in some different faith circles. This is when a person actually weaponizes the Bible or takes their spiritual authority and misuses it to control someone, to manipulate them, to shame them, and they might even threaten like spiritual consequences, like you're gonna answer to God for this, or you're gonna go to hell if you don't submit to me or do this very thing that you don't want to do. Then, sometimes in some of our faith communities, some people just see abuse as a justice problem. In other words, this isn't something that we talk about in the church, this is something that should be handled by the courts.

And that's why I wanna remind you that although not all abuse is criminal, all abuse is sinful. And that's why we talk about it in the church today because it matters to God and it matters to His people, that we, the body of Christ, protect those who need love and protection. So how do we address abuse as Christians? How Do We Help Someone Heal? How do we help someone pick up the pieces, and get healthy, and try to heal? What I wanna say is, it's not easy. It's not one, two, three. It takes time. But the good news is with the presence of God, and with godly counsel, and with safe community, healing is possible. I wanna say it again, because this is a pretty heavy one, and if you wanna say amen anywhere, this would probably be a good place to say it, with the help of God and His people, healing is possible. Healing is possible in the presence of a good God, it is possible, all things are possible with our God.

And so before we begin our journey of healing and talking about what it's gonna look like, I wanna start by addressing those of you who are abusing. I want to talk directly to those of you who are misusing your power to hurt someone else. I'll tell you honestly, in the past, what I would've done is I would've given you my, I've been working out stance. Because I don't know if you notice or not, but I do go to the gym. Don't expect you to notice this, but that's what I would've done. I would've kind of given you this look and I would've looked straight at you, and what I would've said to those of you that are abusing right now is I would've said, you need to stop right now or you're gonna answer to God. And I would've said it in a very strong way, and I'm gonna take a different approach today.

I think this is a more God-honoring approach. I'm still gonna tell you that you need to stop, but I'm gonna do it in a much more loving way. And the reason is, and I want you to hear me when I tell you this, if you are misusing your power to hurt someone else right now, if you're abusing someone else, chances are really, really good that you've been abused. And so I wanna start with compassion for whatever you went through, because we know that hurt people tend to hurt people. And so instead of being angry, I wanna start with compassion and tell you that you really do need help to heal with what you've been through, and you need healing to stop putting others through what they do not deserve. And I wanna tell you as lovingly as I can, just as your pastor who loves you, it is not okay. It is never okay to abuse someone else. And you really need to stop making excuses. You need to own it. And you need a repent of your sin before God. And this is a safe place for you to find healing. You are loved and you need healing.

And I want to tell you, and I want you to hear this, and this will sound a little more harsh, and I want to tell you this, abusing never makes you strong. Abusing Doesn’t Make You Strong It shows you're weak. And this is not an entirely bad thing, because the reality is every single one of us are weak. Meaning I am weak, I'm a weak person, my flesh is weak, I am flawed, I'm incredibly imperfect, I am broken, I am a hurt person. And in my weakness, that's when the strength of Jesus is made perfect. So instead of shaming you away from Jesus, I wanna love you toward Him because you need Him. You need His healing, you need His help, and you need His power. So if you were abused, what they did to you is wrong, but that does not justify or give you any permission to do it to anyone else. You need to acknowledge your sinfulness, your brokenness, your weakness, and let His strength and His power bring you healing.

Now, I wanna talk to those of you that are suffering abuse. And I want you to hear me as a spiritual authority figure telling you this, if you are currently in danger, as your pastor, I wanna tell you, get to a safe place. Get to a safe place. If you are in danger, do not leave here and go back to a place where you are in danger. Get help today. As your pastor, I am begging you not to put yourself in harm's way. And once you're in a safe place, and once some time passes, and once you start to stabilize, and once you're ready to heal, and once you're ready to move forward, and once you're ready to rebuild, and let the redemption, and the grace of Jesus do what He can in you, then at that moment when you're ready, I'm gonna tell you something that may not be easy for you to hear when you're angry. But at that time I'm gonna tell you that you can't heal and hate at the same time.

I won't tell you that yet today because you may not be ready. But when you stabilized, I'll tell you very lovingly that you can't heal and hate at the same time. And so what do we do when we're ready to heal? When You’re Ready for Healing Well, who do we look to? His name is Jesus and His name is above every name. There is no one like Jesus, and Jesus knows what it's like, He's been there, He is our example, and what did He do? Well, He suffered horrific abuse, He died, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, He rose again. But before He died, before He rose again, Jesus prayed for those who were abusing Him. He prayed. He prayed. And I wanna just acknowledge right now it is not easy to pray when someone hurts you. Nothing easy about praying when you've been victimized. But when you stay angry, you stay a victim and you allow them to continue to hurt you even after the blows have stopped.

And so what I wanna do is when you're ready to be brave, because you are brave, the fact that you're still here means you're brave, and you're brave enough hopefully to call out abuse. And one day you'll be brave enough to pray for the one that did abuse you. And what do you pray? Well, I'd be tempted to pray something bad, God sick them in a name of Jesus. Give them hemorrhoids in their ears, give them, I don't know, that's all I can think of, you know you, you're probably more creative, you can come up with something really, pastor Craig, here's what I pray for 'em in the name of Jesus. Actually, when we look at Jesus, while He was hanging on the cross, He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they're doing". He prayed for those who were abusing Him.

And I just wanted to acknowledge that for some of you, it might feel like too soon to go there, and maybe for where you are right now, it is too soon, because I know that forgiveness is often a process. There's often a work that God does to get you ready for it, and eventually He does get you ready for it, because forgiveness is not an optional course when it comes to following Jesus. He calls us to forgive. What does it mean to forgive? I want to tell you what it's not. To forgive, forgiveness isn't letting your offender off the hook, it's not saying that you're free, there's no consequence, whatever. It's releasing your offender to God and trusting God to do what's right. It's letting go of your need, desire to control the situation and is trusting them to God. And it's hard to pray, but when you start to pray, God always works.

And what I've discovered is that your prayer for others may or may not change them, Prayer Can be Life Changing but it always changes you. At some point you start to pray. And I'll tell you a little bit of my story, and I tell this with blessings from my dad who's now in heaven. We talked about this before and I've told this part of the story before, but I was close to my dad as a kid, and then in high school and the college years, I kind of pushed back. You know how guys can like, you know, there's like two rams, like you know, whatever, and I was pushing back a little bit, and in my mid twenties I was teaching at a small Tuesday night Bible study, and I said some things about my dad that were very disrespectful. I was probably overly harsh, but I felt very justified at the time of my life because of some things that had happened.

And so I just publicly said things that were incredibly unkind and dishonoring. There were only a few people there. And time went on and my dad and I had healed in our relationship. Maybe a decade or so later, maybe 12 years, someone gave him a recording of the message that I had preached in my mid 20s. And he listened to the hateful and disrespectful words that I had said about him, who knows how many times. I might have played it over, and over, and over, and over again. And he listened to it and he called me and he said, "Groeschel, I heard what you said about me". I was like, what'd I say? "Years ago at that Bible study, you said this, this, this, this, this, this, this". And I had nowhere to hide. And I said, dad, dad, dad. He said, "Wait, Groeschel, before you say a thing, hear me out". And he said, "After all the bad stuff I've done and after all the people that I've hurt, And after all the different ways that I've been forgiven", he said, "Son, I forgive you, and let's not mention it again".

Then he said a baseball thing, 'cause he always said a baseball thing, "Let's consider it a new game and a new inning, that one's gone". And my dad never mentioned it again. How to Forgive the Unforgivable How do you forgive? Like how? How do you forgive something that someone else did to you or to someone that you love that seems unforgivable? Well, you forgive in the same way that you've been forgiven. And the way that my dad forgave me was indescribably gracious. But in the way that my heavenly dad has forgiven me is that times a million. And that's why scripture teaches us how we forgive. We're told to "Be kind to each other, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has", done what? Let's say it aloud, everybody, you can type in the chat, "Just as God through Christ has". "Forgiven you". "Forgiven you".

Why don't we personalize it? Why don't you say this, how He has forgiven me. So you work to forgive and then one day you manage to forgive. So what does that mean? Things go back to normal, right? No, hopefully not. Because the goal is something different than what you have. The goal is something better than what you have. Forgiveness, what does it do? Well, it frees you from the pain, and the anger, and the bitterness, and the hatred, but it might not free you from the need for boundaries. There may be a time where you say, yes, I do forgive you, but that kind of behavior is no longer acceptable. Yes, I freely forgive you, but some things need to change.

The Bible says that a city without walls is vulnerable, and you can forgive while still creating the right, and the healthy, and the appropriate, and the God honoring boundaries while trust is rebuilt and restored. We've covered a lot of ground, we've covered a lot of ground, and whatever I say, again, is incomplete, and that's why I'm praying, and I'm praying, and I'm praying that God can do what only He can do. And Jesus is our example. Jesus was abused, He suffered, He forgave, He died, and He rose again. And after the resurrection, Jesus still had scars. He still had scars. And what did He do with the scars? He used them as a testimony of the healing and resurrection power of His Father who brought that which was dead back to life again. That's how good our God is. That's what God does. "The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, that resurrection power is inside of you".

And so when I tell you, vulnerably, I've been through some stuff too, and I have some scars too, and my scars are evidence and the testimony of what it means to be restored, and what it means to be healed, and what it means to be free, and what it means to glorify God, that true restoration is possible in Him. So what do you do? And I don't know, depends on where you are, but I would encourage you, whatever it is, to take a step, to take a step, to take a step, whatever it is. Do not leave without letting us love you, and pray for you, and cry with you, and hold you, and protect you.

If you're abusing, come forward and confess it, and I promise you, you will be met with love and grace, because we're all broken and all need healing. And if you're hurting today, don't hurt alone, Don’t Hurt Alone don't try to heal alone. We want to be a safe place in the presence of God for you to show your scars and show your wounds, and believe that one day they'll be a testimony to the healing power of God, that you're no longer in that grave, but you've been risen, you've been raised.

So I'm gonna close with Isaiah 53, a powerful prophecy for telling what Jesus would do for us. And I want you to feel this. In the Old Testament, it was prophesied of Jesus that, "Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, but He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him". Watch this. "And by His wounds", by the suffering that He endured, "We are healed". Because of what He did we can find healing in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, because Jesus rose from the dark place of abuse and oppression. By His power, you too can rise in healing. His name is Jesus, He is the king of kings, the Lord of lords, He loves you, and He can bring healing.

Father, we ask in the name of your Son, that your Holy Spirit could do what only you can do, bring healing, we pray, bring healing, we pray.

At all of our churches and online you're watching, we know that abuse is a massive problem, no matter where you stand on this issue, no matter where you've been, I wanna see a raised hands of those who want to be a part of the solution. Raise your hands if you want healing, you want redemption, you wanna be a part of the solution, would you raise your hand? Church, I'm gonna tell you right now, start over, this is a problem. And those in the body of Christ that want to be a part of the solution, raise your hands right now, that would be you, raise your hands up, raise your hands up, type it online, I wanna be part of the solution.

Father, I pray right now that the body of Christ would rise up, that we would speak for those who have no voice, that we would stand in the gap up, God, that we would be a safe place, both for those who have been hurt and are abusing others to find healing. And God, especially for those who've been broken, that have been victims of abuse, God, that they would find grace, and healing, and strength, and love in the body of Christ. Because of what Jesus endured, help us all to heal. Help us to heal. Help us to heal.

As you keep praying today, nobody looking around, there are those of you that you're gonna become very aware of your brokenness, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you were abused, but you're broken, you're hurt, and maybe you hurt people, you sinned against God. You know that when you look at your life, that you've done things that you're embarrassed of, you're shamed about, you think, how could God ever love me? What I wanna tell you right now is God loves you, He just does. It's not because of who you are, it's because of who He is. He's love, He loves.

There's nothing you can do to stop Him from loving you, there's nothing you can do to earn more of His love or take any of it away, He just loves you. He loves you. It's not just what He does, it's who He is, He loves you, and He loves you so much that He sent Jesus, that is His son, the son of God who was perfect in every way. And He reached out to the broken, He reached out to those who were sinful and He loved them right where they were. And Jesus bore our sins, He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and He did not stay dead. Three days later, the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, and Jesus was risen. Why? He defeated, death, hell, and the grave.

Now anyone who calls on His name, no matter who you are, no matter what you've done, anyone who calls on His name, you would be saved, you would be forgiven, you would be made new. Today there are those of you watching this right now, not by accident, but by the providence and the love of God, you need His healing, you need His grace. What do you do? Step away from your old life and say, yes, Jesus, I need you. Jesus, save me. When you call on Him, He hears your prayers, forgives your sins, and make you new wherever you are.

Those who say, yes, today I give my life to Jesus, that's your prayer, lift your hands high right now, all over the place, lift them up, praise God for you guys, as we have people today saying yes at all of our churches, we thank you, God, for your work. Online, type in the comments section, I'm surrendering my life to Jesus. Just type that in right now, and wherever you are, pray aloud with those around you, pray:

Heavenly Father. Forgive my sins. Jesus, save me. Fill me with your Spirit, so I could know you and serve you, and heal in you, and show your love to those who need you. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.

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