Hurt Happens: Are you Bitter or Broken?

As a pastor, I get the privilege of walking alongside individuals and couples who are hurting and have been hurt by another.  After all, we have all been hurt by others and on occasion, we hurt others.  Certainly issues are complex in any relationship where hurt is present, but I have experienced a pattern in those who have been burned by others and have personally been tempted to go down the wrong path myself.  Folks who have been wounded tend to walk down one of two paths.

The first path is labeled “Bitterness.”  It is outward focused on the person who has caused the hurt and anyone who is close to that person.  It is revengeful.  This path causes rage.  This person likes to curse at the world.  This leads to judgment of others, rebelliousness towards God and a lack of forgiveness extended to the person who is the instigator of the wound.  This all leads to a deeper depression, individual prison, personal bondage, decay and death in the heart.  The bitter person thinks they are right and thus does not do introspection to admit guilt, asking for forgiveness.  They think they deserve more.  This person is full of hate.  All of this causes this person to not be objective seeing the larger picture.  Needless to say, this is not a path after God’s heart toward spiritual maturity.

The second path is labeled “Brokenness.”  This has an inward focus on the wounded person’s heart.  They are introspective reflecting on their own “stuff”.  Repentance is quick which gives way to freedom and life.  A supernatural love is experienced on this path.  They want to bless others even in their despare.  They are full of compassion despite the pain.  They have a peaceful demeanor.  They know they deserve nothing. so any grace from God is a huge blessing.  The Cross of Christ is their focus.  They expect suffering in this world, so they offer forgiveness quickly whether the person who hurt them asks for forgiveness or not.  This makes them vulnerable.  All of this leads the broken to love no matter what because Christ loved us.  This is the path after God’s own heart that Jesus spoke of in the Gospel.

The bitter person is building a prison around themselves which is lonely, dark and cold.
The broken person is building a hospital for others to feel safe in order to experience compassion, love and grace.

One is inward focused with selfish desires.
The other is outward focused on blessing others.

One is all about “ME”.
The other is the Great Commandment and Great Commission of Jesus in action.

The broken person understands the amount of grace, love and compassion been given to them in Christ Jesus when it was undeserved, but the bitter person is so self-absorbed they miss the extravagance of God’s grace and the blessing to bless others.

Jesus wants His followers to live as broken people in the world.  Paul describes it to the Corinthian believers by saying we are like “jars of clay” with an all-surpassing power that lives inside of us, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Clay pots break, but Jesus does not and with Him inside of us we are unstoppable for the Kingdom of God.  Don’t let the hurt that comes guide you down the bitter path.  Run toward brokeness before a Holy God.

I encourage you to travel
down the broken path,
not the bitter one.

What do you think?

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Jeff Baxter
Jeff Baxter's passion for helping the next generation know and love Jesus led him to pursue his Doctorate in Youth and Family Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeff has been a frequent speaker in various settings including the National Youth Workers Convention. Jeff lives in Littleton, Colorado, with his wife, Laurie, and their three children where he is an associate pastor at Foothills Bible Church. His most recent book is Together: Adults and Teenagers Transforming the Church (Zondervan). Jeff blogs at

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