Hannah was hurting. She was miserable. Her home life was painful, her social life non-existent, and her addiction to her small screen kept pulling her down the rabbit hole into insecurity and depression. Less than a week before I had the opportunity to chat with her, she had overdosed and ended up in the hospital. Not because she wanted to die. But because She “didn’t want to keep living like she was anymore.”
She had a rehearsed but believable smile. Yet underneath it all, she was lost, hurting and isolated.
She believed in God but struggled to believe that He loved her. Some days she thought He was unloving; other days she was simply convinced she was unlovable.
As our conversation began, I asked God to open up her heart to His love, and He did.
A wall of self-hate protected her from disappointment … but it began to break down when she understood that God loved her and wanted a relationship with her. Although she was thinking, “How can this be?” she found herself longing, “I hope this is true.”
It didn’t happen right away, but eventually she turned her heart over to Christ; surrendering her will, submitting to His Leadership and receiving His gift of grace.
When they can’t accept God’s love.
There are many people in the world that feel just like Hannah. They walk around with regrets, misery and shame, all the while convincing themselves their lives will never get better. Rather than risk rejection, they erect barriers to keep people out. The problem is, those barriers intended to protect them from pain actually create a greenhouse for their pain to grow.
So, how do you get through to someone who has convinced themselves they aren’t loveable? How do you convince someone that God hasn’t given up on them, desperately loves them, and is inviting them close?
There are never any formulas for things that are emotionally based and illogically driven, but here are three suggestions to consider as you seek to encourage someone stuck in this type of rut.
- Acknowledge the pain, but don’t dwell there. Let’s face it, some people are only happy if they are miserable. They dwell in their pain and meditate on their problems.
When talking with this type of person, be sure to recognize their pain but don’t dwell there. Instead, remind them God sees and wants to heal. Reinforce that God’s love is bigger than their mistakes and He is still present.
A person who fixates on their problem will never fully embrace God’s solutions.
- Challenge their perspective. If they are convinced they have made too many mistakes, remind them that we are all flawed. When they argue that they are not worthy, simply say, “Welcome to the club.”
Scripture is full of stories of people who are broken and flawed, and these jaw-dropping examples should bring comfort to any of us. If God can forgive manipulative liars (Joseph), then He can definitely forgive the person you are talking to. If He will promote the adulterous murderer (King David), then He will still promote them. If He will use a disciple who rejected Jesus (Peter) to impact the world, then He will gladly use any one of us.
All it takes is a reset and a refocus — and God can help the troubles fade into the past as He opens the door to a great future.
- Don’t Give Up! There is an aspect to the spiritual warfare for a hurting soul that comes down to quantity. They have heard the voices their entire life that say that they are unlovely and unworthy, and it often takes multiple anointed and true statements to combat their beliefs… so don’t give up.
Continue to tell them God loves them, has a plan for them and is pursuing them. At some point, the light will break through and the truth will set in. At some point they will realize that God does love them, hasn’t given up on them and wants great things for them.
If you know a Hannah, keep praying, and keep engaging. God is working in her heart and He just may use you to impact her life.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Ps 34:18
Sean Dunn is founder and president of Groundwire, a global ministry with the mission to lead every youth and young adult into a personal relationship with Jesus by leveraging current media channels to connect with them wherever they are. More than 116,000 made commitments to Christ through the organizations efforts in 2020. For more information, visit www.groundwire.net