Monday, April 18, 2011

The Wounded Healer

“But he was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5

What do we do with the question of pain? So many of us question God because of the pain we experienced or the pain our loved ones endured. Many of us have been deeply wounded by abuse and as a result we became expert pretenders, living in denial, repressing memories, and stuffing the emotions that surrounded the painful events of our pasts. Many of us were wounded by others and believe something in us wasn't worthy of God’s protection and we find it difficult to turn to Him for the healing we desperately want and need. It is imperative that we understand the truth that God never promised us a pain-free life in this world. For us to respond to God’s love with love, He had to give each of us the freedom to choose and sadly, Adam and Eve's choices resulted in us living in a sinful, pain-filled world. It also resulted in each of us being born with the potential to do great evil. Because of this, we often struggle with toxic shame as we live with the consequences of our own sin, as well as the traumatizing consequences of other people's sin.

The verse above makes it clear that Jesus understands our pain. He was stripped and beaten until He was bruised and bleeding and then hung between heaven and earth for all to see. He understands what it feels like to bear consequences of others' sins for as He hung there our sin was laid upon Him. He knows what it feels like to be blamed for what another has done, because He took our blame as He bore our shame. He knows what it feels like to be condemned, being condemned in our place. He knows what it feels like to feel crushed and wounded, for He was crushed for our sin. He also knows what it feels like to be falsely accused, to be misunderstood, and to be despised for simply being Himself. He even understands how it feels to be alone as His friends ran and His heavenly Father didn’t even intervene. He understands what it is like to be used as many seek His gifts rather than the Giver. He knows what betrayal feels like, because a disciple betrayed Him with a kiss. 

Only Jesus loved enough to choose to experience abuse, pain, and shame on our behalf and He has the understanding, the compassion, and the power to heal hearts that are deeply wounded by abuse of any kind. The verse above reveals that He didn’t just come to pay for our sin, He came to heal us. We falsely believe that others can heal us. We falsely believe that if our abusers, those who betrayed us, and those who neglected us, or those who sinned against us apologized, we would be healed. While an apology may validate our story and can pave the way for restoration, it cannot mend a heart torn by betrayal. It cannot ease the anxiety triggered by overwhelming powerlessness. It cannot calm the fear that trauma evoked. Nor, can it fill a love-starved heart. I have known people who think they can’t be healed until they get an apology, but that isn't true. Nor did it automatically restore trust; that came through hard work, speaking truth, setting godly boundaries, and giving grace upon grace.

It is humbling to really get honest with God about the pain we have experienced, about the anger we have often buried deep, and the lack of grace we are giving to others. I was fortunate enough to pour out the pain in my heart to Him in the presence of godly people I trusted. I have asked God questions, some of which He has answered and some of which He hasn’t. At times I have wrestled with the ambivalence I felt over what seemed like inaction on His part and He kept drawing me back to the Easter Story. To know my Creator understands the pain I experienced and the sin I sinned and chose willingly to suffer that kind of pain for me so I could have a relationship with Him blows my mind. To know that He sees me, to know that He hears me, and to know that He understands even the feelings of my infirmities means so much to me. It was through the fellowship of suffering that I learned so much about His heart and HIs love for us. That was the precious gift that came from the dark I experienced. I don't want to ever forget that the Lion of Judah first came as the Wounded Healer. 

Prayer: Father, help us to have the courage to look at the painful places in our hearts and in our lives. Provide people to hear our stories and to help us connect with God at a deep enough level that those painful places can be healed. Remind us often that you get us and understand what we go through. Thank you for dying in our place and not just redeeming us, but healing us. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!