She stepped through the back door that afternoon and the floodgates swung open. Darting to her room and crumbling onto her bed; heart bruised, broken, and bleeding from the abrasive words hurled at her.
A considered friend’s harsh words were the root of this now bounty of tears that my precious daughter had managed to hold back like a dammed up river until she could hold it no more.
“Why Momma? Why would she say that? Why would she deliberately say things to hurt me?”
Hurting people hurt people.
Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. 1 Samuel 1:6-7
This weeks leading lady, Peninnah used her words to inflict deep hurt much like my daughter’s friend had done to her.
You may remember from last week, Hannah was struggling with infertility yet her husband’s other wife could simply walk past Elkanah and get pregnant. Year after year and baby after baby, Peninnah poked fun at Hannah’s empty arms.
Why? Why does anyone use their words to hurt others? I’m sure Hannah had the same question that my crying daughter had. Why?
Scripture tells us:
Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, … This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 1 Samuel 1:4, 5 & 7
But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her. Really! Peninnah had to have seen that and it had to have hurt! Here she is giving her husband child after child and yet he loves Hannah who gives him no children.
Hurting people hurt people.
Saying hurtful things is often a reaction to pain. Peni, was hurting so she lashed out at Hannah. It was a reaction to her pain. I’m sure she didn’t deliberately think – “If I can make her feel as bad as I do then I will feel better.” OR “If I put her down it will make me not feel quite so bad.”
The truth is that it never works that way.
The whole sticks and stones thing… words DO hurt! And often leave worse bruises! We all have a tendency to put it on replay in our minds, playing it over and over again. Each time it hurts anew.
So what is the solution? What are we to do when we are hurt by someone else? Our first instinct is to lash back and become that hurt person… who hurts someone else.
What about forgiveness?
What? Oh no you didn’t go there Momma!
Forgiveness? How can I ever forgive her Momma? She said those things on purpose! She knew what she was saying! She was trying to hurt me.
What about the ‘turn the other check’ verse? What about when Jesus was hanging on the cross beaten beyond recognition and He said, ‘Forgive then Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ As Christians what are we supposed to do with those verses? Just rip those pages out of the Bible cause it’s too hard? What about the good verses on that same page? It’s either all in or all out. Every verse gives life. We have to take the hard ones with the good ones.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in me. A quote from CS Lewis
Bottom line: The forgiven forgive.
Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8
Scripture doesn’t tell us that Peni cried from her hurt. But it does say that Hannah wept. She wept and wept until she took it to God in prayer. It indicates that she cried out passionately! And God heard her prayers.
My takeaway is: when I’m hurt, I have to forgive sooner or later. And in reality sooner is always better than carrying the weight of it until later. Breaking the cycle of hurt is simply making up my mind (choosing) to not be offended. But when I am, I should take it to God and get help to forgive quickly.