Jimmy Evans - When Life Hurts
This morning I want to talk to you about the 5 emotional facts of life, and these are things that are true for all of us. And the first is, life hurts. Just period. God never promised us a life without pain, he just promised us that he would be there to heal us and to help us in the circumstances. Whether it's our own sin or failure, parental failure, death of loved ones, especially when it's untimely or tragic, disappointments, abuse, rejection, betrayal, whatever it might be, life hurts. And it's just inevitable that the older we get, the more hurt there's going to be in our lives.
The second emotional reality of life is unless we deal with pain properly when it occurs, it accumulates within our hearts. And this is why I call this series "The hurt pocket". There's a place in our hearts that when we don't deal with pain properly, it drops in that pocket, that place there where hurt accumulates. And, you know, there are two unfortunate realities in life, and the first is very few of us know how to deal with pain when we're growing up and even as adults. If you have really wise parents who are godly people and who help pastor you through the difficulties of life, you're very, very blessed, but most of us were not in that circumstance.
And even if our parents were Christians, most of them don't know how to deal with pain. And so we just kind of do our best. And in my life, I'm gonna tell you about some of the things that happened to me in my life. But as things happened to me in my life that were painful, I didn't know how to deal with pain, so I just didn't. I just hid it, I just denied it. I pretended it didn't exist. But I had problems later on with that. The other unfortunate reality is that time heals nothing. And there's this old saying that time heals all wounds. No, it does not. Time heals nothing. In my opinion, pain gets worse over time.
Number 3 emotional reality of life, emotional fact of life, is accumulated pain and unresolved problems comprise our mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational health. As things accumulate within our lives, they begin to compromise us. That's why the hurt pocket needs to be emptied on a regular basis. We're going to experience pain, and as we experience that pain, once we know how to deal with that pain, we can keep that pocket empty. But unfortunately, when we don't know how to deal with pain and we're dealing with it in wrong ways, the more that accumulates within our hearts, the more it compromises us.
Now, I'm gonna tell you my silly story. And the reason I'm telling you this is kind of a silly story, this is something that in my life that happened to me that illustrates this point. But this is not the worse thing that ever happened to me. There were things that happened to me when I was growing up that were devastating to me, but I can't share them. It just wouldn't be appropriate. But I'm gonna share this. And I only say that to say, as I'm telling this, I just don't want you to be thinking, "Well, Jimmy, boo-hoo, I'm sorry for you, but you should have lived my life". Well, I understand. And I'm sure that there are many of you that have more painful experiences than I did. But this is not the most devastating thing that happened, but it changed my personality and it proves this point.
I have two older brothers, Damien and Lucifer. And they, and we all went to the same schools. We never moved when I was growing up. We went to the same schools. And so my brothers went 6 years at paramount terrace elementary school. I went 5 years there. And in the sixth grade, between my fifth and sixth grade years, they changed the boundaries. And so, I was informed in the summer between the fifth and sixth grade that I was gonna have to go to Coronado Elementary School the next year. Well, you know, I would say the word "Devastated", but, you know, it wasn't that bad, but I took it hard as an 11-year-old boy.
And so they told me, you're not gonna be able to see your friends again at paramount terrace. You have to go to Coronado. At the end of that year, they changed the boundaries again. And they told me that I could go back over to the junior high that my brothers had gone to, that all my paramount terrace friends were at, so eagerly I went over to Crockett junior high and had two great years. Played football, basketball, track, had great friends. Wonderful experience. And then in the ninth grade, they changed the boundaries again. And so in the summer between the eighth and ninth grade I was informed that I couldn't go to Crockett, I had to go to Stephen f. Austin. So I just didn't want to, so my parents went back down to the school administration office. And they told my parents, well, ok, since this has happened to him before, he can go to Crockett, but he can't play sports. He's ineligible and so he can't play sports.
So I thought, well, ok, I hate that, but, you know, I'll just watch my friends play and I'll, you know, tough out the year and then go on to high school. So I didn't play sports, but I went and watched my friends. So I was on the sidelines during a football game watching my friends. And there was this vending truck at the end of the football field. One of those kinds, you know, that pulls up and lifts up the side and they have soft drinks and candy bars and those kinds of things. So I went down and bought a coke. And I was standing there buying a coke and the cheerleaders, I knew the cheerleaders on the other team. And while I was standing there, they walked up, started talking to me, kind of started flirting with me. Who can blame them? Think about it.
And so they walk up, start talking to me, so I talked to them, walked back to the other side of the field, you know, watched the rest of the football game, came to school the next morning, and there was a note for me to go to the principal's office. And you know how that is. You know that's not good news. And on the way down there, I thought, well, why am I being called down there? I knew there were many reasons capital punishment might be appropriate, but I was just trying to figure out what it was. So anyway, I get to the principal's office and the principal says, "Bend over, you're getting swats". I said, "Excuse me"? He said, "Bend over, Evans. You're getting swats". I said, "What for"? He said, "You know what for".
And again, I was calculating, I wasn't gonna confess anything. I was just thinking, "Ok, what did I get caught at"? And I said, "Sir, I don't know what for". And he said, "You went to that vending truck yesterday at the ball game. Now bend over". I said, "Yes, sir. I went down and bought a coke". He said, "Those cheerleaders came up and you started talking to them". And I said, "Yes, sir". He said, "It's against school rules to go to the other side of the field during a football game". And I said, "Sir, I didn't go to the other side of the field". I said, "I just took a few steps on the other side of the vending truck to talk to those cheerleaders". He said, "The vending truck was in the middle of the field. When you passed that vending truck, you were on the other side of the field. It doesn't matter how far you passed it, when you passed it, you were on the other side of the field. Now bend over".
And he gave me hard swats. And that's when they broke my spirit. All the things that had happened up to that were just painful and frustrating, but that's when they broke my spirit. And I went back to class and I had my little jaw set and I thought, "You people are gonna pay. You teachers, you principals, you school people, you're gonna pay". And I sat back down in class. My friend said, "Evans, what happened"? And I told him, and he said, "Oh, no, really"? And I turned to my friends and I said, "Let's have a contest, guys". And they said, "Really, what"? And I said, "Let's see who can get the most swats this year". My friends went, "Awesome".
They weren't smart, but they were sweet. So for the rest of that year, we had a contest to see who could get the most swats, and I won. I was constantly in trouble, which meant I got more swats, I was winning the contest, and I was frustrating all the teachers and principals, which was wonderful for me. That was my whole point. And so the last time I went to the principal's office that year, I was a little behind one of my friends and I thought, I've got to get in trouble, get some good swats here and pull back in the lead. So I did something that was a sure 3 or 4 swatter, and they sent me to the principal's office.
When I got to the principal's office, the principal met me and said, "You see my face one more time this year, young man, you will not see high school. Do you understand me"? That was a bad moment. Let me tell you another shocking moment in my life was the day that he joined my church in Amarillo. I thought I was in, I'd seen the rapture or something. I didn't know. "You see my face one more time, you will not see high school". And I mean, I was mad at him, he was mad at me. We locked eyes and it was like, "Go ahead, make my day". I was so mad at him. And just annoying him was a wonderful thing.
So somehow I got to high school. When I got to high school, I was always in trouble. 10 years ago a woman in our church in Amarillo walked up to me and said, "Pastor Jimmy, my mother stopped teaching because of you". And I said, "Who's your mother"? And she told me and I said, "Oh, yes, I'm sure she did". I remembered everything. So anyway, I was horrible in high school, was always in trouble 'cause I was mad, I was hurt, and it accumulated. I didn't know how to deal with it. When I met Karen in high school, I was an athlete. I was a pretty good kid and I was an athlete. And I played sports in high school, but I began smoking, drinking, fighting, and being immoral.
And I looked back in my past one day and I was thinking, when did I change? When did I become a bad kid? When did all these things happen? That moment. That moment in the principal's office when he swatted, man, I want to say something to all the young people here. I made a wrong response. Teachers and principals and school administrators have a very, very tough job to do and they deserve respect. And I made a wrong response, so I want to say that very clearly. I wasted those years, I truly did. And they were only trying to do their job. And I just, you know, I got hurt in the process and I made a wrong response. And so the pain that accumulated in me compromised mentally, spiritually, emotionally in every way. I just became an unhealthy person.
Number 4 emotional fact of life is we all deal with pain in some way, right or wrong. You have to deal with pain. You can't not deal with it. And so all of us deal with pain in some way. Is the issue is never the issue. When you're dealing with alcoholism or drug addiction or food addiction or gambling addictions or sex addictions or anything, the issue is never the issue. To an alcoholic, alcohol is not the issue, pain's the issue. We're dealing with pain. And when a person goes to alcoholics anonymous, and they've helped millions of people break alcohol addictions, but when you go to alcoholics anonymous and they have their 12 steps, the first step is fess up. Start talking about that thing you won't talk about.
See, every time there's pain in our life, the devil puts fear and shame around it so we'll keep it in the darkness. Fear and shame. We don't want to talk about it. It hurts too much. We're too ashamed of it or whatever. But understand this, anything in the darkness is in the devil's domain because he's the prince of darkness. Whatever's in the light belongs to God because he's the God of all light. So the devil's greatest interest in our lives is to keep pain there by putting fear and shame or whatever it is upon that thing, or just secrecy.
When I became a Christian, you know, and even when I had my quiet times, I could read my Bible and pray. I could spend time with God as long as it wasn't silence. Because God, you know that book "Boundaries"? It's a great book for people to read. I don't think God's ever read that book. God will put his finger right in the middle of your cereal bowl and stir. He's God. He owns us and he wants to talk about what he wants to talk about. And he doesn't talk surface stuff, the weather, sports, what'd you kill last weekend, that kind of stuff. He goes right to the heart of the matter, abuse, anger, bitterness, hurt, betrayal. He wants to talk about what's really on our hearts.
And as a young believer, I was afraid, I loved the Lord, but I was afraid of those moments of silence because I knew in those moments I was vulnerable because God was wanting to talk to me about some things that I didn't want to talk about. They hurt too much. There was too much shame there. The devastation of certain events in my childhood. And let me tell you about the silly thing about hiding from God, you're hiding from your healer. When he touches pain, it doesn't hurt. When he touches pain, it goes away. Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I'll give you rest, for I am gentle and humble, and you'll find rest for your soul".
See, when you're hurting, your worst nightmare is somebody jabbing at it. He doesn't jab. He's very gentle. And he touches, the Bible says that a bruised reed he will not break and a dimly burning wick he will not extinguish until he leaves justice to victory. And that means if you're the most shattered, broken life in the world, he will not deal with you roughly or disrespectfully. He understands. And he's a healer. And he'll take the devastation of your life and touch it gently and heal it. He's the only person who can heal the wounds of our past. And I want to say in those moments when I wouldn't be silent and let the Lord deal with me, I continued to hurt, and I just went and went and did and did, always busy until the day I sat in the presence of God finally and let him begin to deal with the issues of my life.
The fifth emotional reality of life is the only way to stop the hurt and totally resolve it is to turn it toward God, to empty the hurt pocket. Ok, this is Matthew 5:4. This is one of the beatitudes. And I'm sure you've heard the scripture before. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". Ok, Jesus is always right. I'm gonna disagree with him for just a minute, then I'm gonna come back and agree with him, 'cause he's always right. There are a lot of people who mourn who aren't blessed. There are people all over the world who are in anguish, but they're not blessed and they're not comforted. So when you have a simple read of this and you think people are blessed because they're mourning, that is incorrect.
And let me offer a paraphrase, a fuller paraphrase of this, to explain what this does mean. Blessed are those who turn their pain toward God, for their pain will be validated, understood, and healed. You're not blessed because you're mourning. Jesus is saying you're blessed if you'll turn your pain toward me. And he was talking about a nation that was devastated under Roman occupation. Bring your pain to me. I'll comfort you. I'll take care of that pain. Emotional pain only heals in the presence of light. It's not like your body. It won't go away if you don't talk about it. It won't go away if you deny it. It's still there. It's still accumulating. It's still changing and compromising the way that we live our lives. But Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who bring their pain to God, because I'll comfort you".
And here are the emotional requirements, the essential requirements for emotional healing, and I'm finished. Number one is just honesty before God. You've got to get honest. Just, Lord, I open my heart to you and I trust you with these issues of my life that I'm hurting, and talk about those things in the presence of the Lord. He's not ashamed of you. There's nothing that you've done that will make him reject you, regardless of if you did it to yourself or someone did it to you. And when there's abuse and when there is failure and when there's all those things in our past, again the devil puts fear and shame there to keep them in darkness, and we've got to break out of that, understanding that God is not my problem, God is my solution.
And God is not trying to find a reason to reject me. He already found a reason to love me, and it was Jesus. Our sins are forgiven. We have been accepted by God and we are his children, and we can boldly go before the throne of grace with any issue in our lives to find mercy and grace in our time of need. He's my healer. He's my friend. He's the great physician. He knows how to heal my pain. And by the way, Jesus understands pain more than any other person in the world. He went through more of it. When we go to Jesus with our pain, he understands it. He sympathizes with it. That's what the Bible says. But I have to get honest. I have to bring it into the light.
Number two is responsibility to God. I've got to take responsibility for my behavior. People may have done things to me. Life does not form me, my response to life forms me. My parents did this, my brothers did this, my friends did this, well, whatever it might be. But understand this, even though they may have done it to me, I can overcome it. I'm not a victim. I'm not a helpless pawn on a sea of fate. I'm a disciple of Lord Jesus Christ and I can do all things through him who gives me strength. I'm not helpless. And you see in family systems, I'm thinking of one family right now who had a lot of dysfunction in their family and pain, and 3 children, one came out full of hate and still won't talk to anyone 30 years later. The other one came out addictive, rebellious and addictive, drugs, alcohol, all kinds of things and are that way to this day. And the other person came out, turned to Christ, turned back, led their parents to the Lord, and discipled their parents.
We have a choice. We have a choice in how we respond. Life doesn't form me, my response to life forms me. And I can make right decisions, but it always begins with responsibility rather than blame transfer. Remember when Adam and Eve sinned and God came up to Adam and said, "What is this that you've done"? And he said, "That woman that you gave me". Men have been saying it ever since. Then he went to eve and said, "What is this that you've done"? She said, "The devil made me do it". Well, come on. They were grownups. They could have taken the right response. But instead, they blamed each other. Listen, regardless of what other people have done to me, that's fine. I take responsibility for my own behavior. I'm gonna take responsibility of what God tells me to do. Here's the bad thing. See, if another person is the problem, they're also the solution, and I'm helpless. Regardless of what they did, Jesus is the solution. And if I do the right thing, I can overcome it. Take responsibility for your behavior.
And number 3 is mercy from God for me and to those who have hurt me. I want to say two things now as I close. Forgive yourself. And sometimes we may be able to believe that God forgives us and he'll forgive anything that we've done, but sometimes we don't forgive ourselves. Regret is one of the greatest things the devil uses to cause misery in our lives. Just regret. Because Jesus died for me on the cross, I don't have to live with regret. I am forgiven. And whatever I did wrong, I can learn from it. Let me say this. Karen and I almost divorced. I was a horrible, dominant, verbally abusive husband. And God now uses that to heal millions of people around the world. The greatest failures, the greatest scars in your life turned to God can become the greatest glory to God in your life. But the devil wants you to live in regret and not live in victory.
Don't live in regret. Give yourself mercy. Give yourself a little bit of mercy, ok. And then give that mercy to other people. Forgive the people that have hurt you in your life. I played football, basketball, ran track, baseball, I boxed, I swam, I did all kinds of things growing up. And my father never came to one of my sporting events. I asked him every time I played sports, "Daddy, I'm playing football today. Daddy, I'm playing baseball today". And he never came to one of my events, sporting events. And I had the best relationship with my father in the last 20 years before he died. Just he was my dearest friend.
And he came to the Lord and he was a different person. But growing up, he was distant, quiet, and never involved himself in my life. And I didn't understand. It was hurtful, obviously, you know. And I used to fantasize, I used to look on the sideline at other boys' dads, and I used to fantasize that that was my dad 'cause I knew that was the closest I was ever gonna get to my dad being there. And I never understood why my dad was the way he was until my aunts told me one day stories about my dad. And my dad was among 9 siblings. There were 10 kids in the family, and they lived in abject poverty. His dad was a sharecropper. My dad slept outside every night on a cot. He never slept indoors growing up. In the wintertime, he slept with the horses. They ate meat once a week. They were very, very poor. And ate vegetables every day, ate meat once a week.
On the first day of school, my dad showed up at school, he didn't know they were poor. He didn't have anything to measure it by. But he showed up for school and he walked in and he had overalls and bare feet. And when he walked in with his bare feet, other kids started making fun of him. And my dad ran to the front yard of the school, grabbed a tree and wouldn't let go until his parents came to get him. And as soon as my aunts told me that story, I gave my dad mercy. 'Cause here's what I thought. My daddy stayed at work. He didn't come to my games, but my daddy was a hard worker so that I'd have a roof over my head and shoes on my feet. And I did. And bless my daddy.
The people who hurt you are hurting themselves. And it doesn't justify what they did, but it sure explains a lot of it. And because I don't know everything people have gone through, I'm not qualified to be their judge, only God is. But we all have pain. We all have to deal with that pain. And when it accumulates, it compromises us. But thank God for Jesus. Thank God for his love. Thank God for his mercy. And thank God that he can touch every area of our lives and heal us. You know, we all deal with pain in our lives. No one lives their life on this earth without experiencing some pain. That's what we all have in common. But as a pastor for over 35 years, I can tell you that there is a huge difference in the way that people deal with their pain.
And I walked a lot of family through grieving and through death and through really terrible circumstances. And I've seen some people who, you know, they hurt and they grieve, but they get through it and they get on the other side of it. But I've also seen people who don't. They never get through the grief. They never get through the pain. I was telling about my own story there in that message, and I'm healed. I mean, I'm healed and I live a healed, happy, joyful life. But the difference is letting God be God. When I talked about Matthew 5 and Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they'll be comforted". When we bring our pain to God and let him be God...
See, the worst thing you can do when you're hurting is to ask the why questions. You know, why me and why now and why this and why that. Because there's no answers. In most cases, you just don't get the answer of why this person died when they did, why this event happened when it did, why somebody else seems to be more blessed than I am. When you are going through pain, the most helpful thing is to trust God. And just to know he's on your side, that he loves you.
When I was going through my pain, I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know how to respond. And so I responded poorly. And I lost several years of my life, really more than that, to anger and rebellion and to all of those kinds of things. And I regret that. I deeply regret it. I didn't know better then, but I know better now. And I'm saying to you, don't let the devil steal one day of your life being angry, bitter, hurt, grieving. Turn it to God. Turn your pain toward God. Trust him with your heart. Trust him with those areas of your life that you don't understand, because he does understand it, and he is a faithful, wonderful God, and he's madly in love with you. I want you to turn your pain toward God. We're gonna continue this series, and I want you to stay with us. But I'll see you next time on "The Overcoming Life".