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“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”
—Jeremiah 6:14 NIV
A man in prison ministry once told me that in addition to the physical bars inmates live behind, most are bound by bitterness and his heart's desire is to help them forgive. He recounted a visitation with a young man who’d been horribly abused leading up to his arrest and incarceration.
"I prayed over the young man and ensured him of God's love regardless of what he'd done. Then I read from the Bible. I wanted him to know that God commands us to forgive. But he didn't wanna hear it. He scooted his chair back and yelled, 'But you don't know what I've been through!'
I told him right then and there, 'It doesn't matter what you've been through, you have to forgive!'"
In an instant, a heart that'd opened for prayer and encouragement, closed. And a just man returned home, baffled as to why his sincere effort to enlighten the young man had not been better received. After hearing his story, I thought to myself, Dude, responses like that don’t inspire the hurting to reach for the Healer.
Don’t get me wrong—victims are not exempt from forgiving others their trespasses. But because deeply wounded people have a tendency to wound people deeply, I find the best outcomes arise when we well-meaning Christians administer first-aid before mandating a call to action. Of course, no one gets this better than Jesus.
Unpacking Something Familiar
If you’re anything like me, you have keepsakes stored in a box. You know the whereabouts of the box. You know its contents are valuable. But true sentiment lies dormant until once again you hold near what is dear. The same is true for familiar Bible verses. We know where they are. We know they are meaningful. But until we “take them out of the box,” we forget their sovereignty. So, today, we hold a keepsake up to the light and appreciate anew the brilliance of its promise and power.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to those who are bound. (Isaiah 61:1)
Consider the four facets of this priceless jewel:
- Salvation—God sent His Son to give us something we don’t have to work for—eternal life through the shed blood of Christ. (Good tidings.)
- Healing—Christ’s agenda after He secures our eternal salvation is to heal our broken hearts.
- Confession—Under no condemnation, we are free to confess our sins (and sinful reactions), and receive forgiveness and liberty from the emotions that hold us captive.
- Forgiveness—Christ opens the prison doors of “those who are bound” and empowers victims to forgive from their hearts.
As surely as the Word commands us to forgive, He assures us that He is intent on healing our broken hearts. Do you know what this means? It means that what happened to you matters. But take it from a girl who came by this the hard way. Refusing to talk to God about what you’re going through only delays the receiving of this priceless truth.
Also, I should tell you I didn't always feel comfortable talking to God. In the early days, I wrote Him letters. Still, when the ache in my heart supercedes my ability to tell Him how I feel, I make an effort to journal even if all I can write is:
Dear God, I hate the way I feel. I'm grateful for your unfailing love. And I'm going to watch 30 ROCK now. I know it's twisted, but it makes me laugh and I'm tired of crying. Amen.
What about you? Have you given any thought to how God must feel when well-meaning people minimize your pain? Consider Jeremiah 6:14.
If your heart is broken. How it was broken matters because you matter. And since He promised, I can promise: Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear (Isaiah 59:1 NIV).
Please tell Him how you feel today. It matters!
Published on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 @ 9:57 AM CDT
“If you are struggling with the sin of someone who hurt you . . . it only means you are not ready to forgive. Some rush to forgive too quickly. You can’t forgive unless you have first told all the truth about your hurt.”
—M. Craig Barnes, Hustling God
I’m the mother of one teenage and two adult sons. This means unless there’s blood, fire, or vomit, I'm relatively unimpressed with routine bumps and bruises. I also have a seventeen-year-old niece, who I’m proud to say is very active. However, when she was younger, she was—how shall I say this?—whiny. Little bumps preceded big drama. My mother and sister would swoop to her side with the bunny-faced ice pack (aka Boo-Boo Bunny) and marvel at her capacity for human suffering.
In the absence of her medical entourage, our little darling did not attempt such dramatics with me unless she could answer yes to one of two questions: Are you bleeding? Does it hurt to walk? Should you find me insensitive, I'll elaborate. If she had answered yes to either question, I would have provided full medical attention, a colorful Band-Aid of her choice, and ice cream as she watched a Disney movie while lying in a cloud of pillows on my bed.
We all love her. We'd throw ourselves in front of a moving bus to protect her. Why the contrast in how we viewed her discomfort?
Here's my take on it: If earthly parents (some more than others) can discern between a legitimate wound and an excuse to whine, you better believe our heavenly Father can. But before we can answer the question “Am I wounded or merely whining over an offense?” Let's review the difference between the two. There is a difference.
- Wound—An injury, especially one in which the skin or another external surface is torn, pierced, cut, or otherwise broken. Or an injury to the feelings.
- Offense—The act of causing anger, resentment, displeasure, or affront. Or the state of being offended.
Offenses are associated with our attitudes and thoughts toward another’s behavior. Wounds occur when something from the outside painfully penetrates our bodies and/or emotions. It's the difference between being cut-off in traffic and run over by a car. If your heart has been “torn, pierced, cut, or otherwise broken,” take a deep breath. Your inability to forgive is most likely not rooted in spiritual immaturity or disobedience. Perhaps you simply haven’t healed enough to forgive.
Most resources on the topic of forgiveness are tailor-made for the offended—the whiners. Truthfully, you’re probably a whiner if you’re ready to spit nails over your lack of control over people who’ve only hurt your pride. If you can relate, I love you, now suck it up sister, and ask God to humble you under His mighty hand. My own stubborn pride is remedied when I commit to handwrite every Scripture that contains the words pride or humility. It’s amazing how fast my perspective changes. I’ve yet to complete this assignment.
But if you’re bleeding and you can’t walk . . . Oh, daughter of a more loving Father than we girls can imagine, He wants to scoop you up in His arms. He wants to heal you, proclaim liberty over the condemning thoughts which hold you captive, and release you from the prison of “I can’t forgive.” But you’ll have to pony up that glass slipper, that last shred of a time when you felt beautiful—before your true identity was stolen—and commune with the One who holds the other slipper. You can live your whole life with a faint memory of the ball, or receive royal status and live in the kingdom. The choice is yours.
So, how about it, Cinderella? If you're ready to receive full medical attention, then it’s time to stop asking the Great Physician to take the pain away while neglecting to tell Him where it hurts, why it hurts, and whether or not you self-medicate. If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t hobble to a doctor and expect Him to prescribe something for pain relief without first allowing him to set the broken bone so it can heal.
If you haven't read Forgiveness: The Heart of the Matter, now would be a good time. And then grab your journal.
Here's a list of the questions for reflection:
- Am I wounded or offended?
- If it turns out I'm merely offended and being a ginormous baby about my circumstances, am I willing to take a crack at Wendy's crazy writing assignment?
- Wounded? Am I willing to write God a letter about what happened, how I really feel about it, and how I take the edge off from one day to the next. (Anything from new shoes to Chardonnay.)
Key Principle: Own your feelings or your feelings will own you.
Coming Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014: What Happened to You Matters
- Hear what God has to say about minimizing a wound.
- Consider the four facets of a priceless jewel: Salvation. Healing. Confession. Forgiveness.
You are not alone,
 www.answer.com/topic/wound www.answer.com/topic/offense
Published on Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 9:07 AM CDT