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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