Words by Andy Frazier | Image by Al Blanton
I have been blessed to serve local churches for over two decades in bi-vocational ministry, and much of that time has been both as a pastor and as a farrier (also known as a horseshoer). Being a pastor means dealing with imperfect people’s brokenness and baggage. Being a farrier requires working with horses and their less-than-perfect feet.
By learning the hard way, I have found that even the gentlest horses will jump, jerk, or kick when you put pressure on a sore foot. It may not be the intention of the horse to harm you, but it will do whatever it can to get away from pain, including running over you. One of my goals in dealing with lame horses is to help them get relief and to do so gently. Sometimes, I reach my limits and must call on a veterinary professional to get their expert assistance.
As a farrier-pastor, I have found many similarities in dealing with horses and with people. When people are hurt, their pain can be very noticeable, or their wounds may be less obvious. When talking with people about deep emotional and spiritual things, pressure points are identified. Even the kindest people who have been hurt can lash out or respond angrily toward someone intending to care for their soul. If someone runs over me with bitter words or angry actions, I must remind myself that this response probably comes from pressure on a wound.
In conversations about someone’s fear, hurt, or anger, I often point people to the truth of scripture, try to give practical advice, and routinely recommend professional counseling. My ultimate goal for hurting people is to point them to the hope in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who knows our hurts, even our hidden scars. He is the only one who can truly heal our broken hearts.
Hurt people will often hurt other people. Knowing many around us are dealing with their own pain, we should seek to be more gracious, kind, and patient. You may not believe someone who acted like a jerk deserves your compassion, but showing that unkind person grace and mercy is a reflection of how we understand the abounding grace and limitless mercy that Christ has shown to us. You may not think they deserve it, but hurt people need to be shown real, gospel-centered love.
If you have been wounded, do not let your fear or anger cause you to run over people. Do this with your hurt instead: run to Jesus with all of it. He is the broken-heart specialist, ready to receive your baggage with arms wide open.
Not only can He handle your hurt, but He can heal it. WL