Perhaps the most brutal scar a child of God can suffer is being spiritually wounded; whether that entails being hurt by "the church" or losing your faith because of personal obstacles and defeat. Just like in a romantic relationship, when one party is shunned by another, it's very hard to forgive and move on. It's no different in the church, and, in fact, it's even worse because it involves your spiritual well-being.
Here's an example: A marriage is not going well and is heading for divorce. The husband decides since God isn't answering his prayers and fixing the marriage so he decides his faith is meaningless and denies God... because misery loves company, he begins to convince the world around him that religion is false and faith is just a mix of tradition and emotions. Being bombarded with spiritual attack, the wife begins to doubt her own faith, and both experience an unraveling of their relationship with God.
Another example: A man's cell phone goes off during church and everyone in the building looks at him with contempt and the pastor makes a snide remark... the man leaves the church and never forgets the way he felt when the body added to the embarrassment he was already feeling and he never set foot in a church again.
Both of these examples are extreme, but people have walked out of a church and never came back for a lot less (and a lot more, unfortunately). Consider manipulative practices, organizational politics, and societal cliques. The church is made up of people and people are fickle. And while God is constant... human error exists. And because of this, we gather scars and become spiritually wounded and, most of the time, our faith suffers.
Proverbs 18:14 says the spirit of man will sustain his infirmity. This means that we can handle trials such as sickness, disease, and weakness. But then the scripture goes on to ask, what can you do when the spirit is crushed? What can you do when the soul is crushed? This is an entirely different kind of mountain to climb. Overcoming a spiritual wound or spiritual abuse is difficult, but there's hope. In many instances, those suffering have actually lost faith in an institution or people... but they maintain faith in God. The only way to heal the spirit is to show them God... not a religion... not manipulative politics or practices... just an intense and overwhelming spiritual encounter.
Bible Scripture: Proverbs 18:14 - The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
Faith Application: Commit to praying every day this week and fasting one day a week. Pray when you want. Remember, you may not pray an hour a day but don't let an hour go by without communicating with God. On your fast day, fast whatever you feel, but let it be a sacrifice; let it be from the heart. Fast something that has become an idol in your life and takes up your time and your energy in place of moments with God.
Prayer Focus: Lord, this week we pray for those who have experienced spiritual adversity. We pray for those that have given up on their faith because of difficult circumstances or painful church experiences. We pray that they will experience a spiritual encounter that shows them God is faithful despite our human flaws. We pray that we have the opportunities to meet with those that are hurting and offering a glimpse of the God within us. Lord let me be a witness of Your love, a testimony of Your goodness, and a disciple of Your gospel.