4 Ways Hurting People Help People

by Eric Geiger

A popular cliché, and one I have used, is “hurting people hurt people.” It is often true. People who are in deep pain can lash out at others. People who struggle with insecurity can pull others down in an attempt to elevate themselves. People filled with bitterness over how they were mistreated can bitterly mistreat others.

But it is not always true. Often hurting people help people. Hurting people who place their hope in the Lord are extremely powerful instruments in His hands. God takes their tenderness and their trust in the midst of their pain and uses it to deeply impact others.

In his book The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen articulates that ministry leaders are most effective when they provide healing from their own wounds, when they serve out of their brokenness. A. W. Tozer stated, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” Hurting people are able to help people because of their:

1. Humility

The pain of this world reminds us of our fragility. It knocks us to our knees. Hurting people who embrace their weakness are strong and are able to strengthen others through their confidence in Christ.

2. Empathy

Hurting people are able to walk alongside others in pain with a deep sense of shared connection and experience. They know the pain and are less likely to offer trite statements and unhelpful clichés.

3. Perspective

Pain and trials can provide us with perspective on what really matters, on what is really important. Hurting people are able to help others separate the significant from the trivial.

4. Received Grace

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Notice the strong language in this verse: Those of us who receive comfort in our affliction are able to comfort those in any kind of affliction.

This world will hurt us. Others will hurt us. And when we are hurt, either we can choose to hurt people from our fresh wounds or we can choose to offer healing as we receive healing from the Lord.