Isn’t it funny how, if we’ve injured an arm or a leg, we understand and accept the fact that the limb isn’t going be restored back to health overnight, but when it comes to emotional injuries, we so often try to rush the process of healing? The one thing we don’t want to hear is that it’s going to take time!
But the reality is that just as we need to submit to the doctor’s prescription and give ourselves time to heal from bodily injuries, we need to let God – the Great Physician – use the Truth of Scripture, the power of prayer, and grace administered through the body of believers over an extended period of time if we are to heal from emotional wounds.
People do heal. People can change. But whether or not we stay stuck or move into a better future is a choice that lies with each individual. More than anything, it takes humility because the only way to do it is to admit we are helpless, surrender it all to God, and allow Him to show us how to go about the process of changing. An important part of this process is to properly plug in to the healing power of the body of believers.
Did you know it has been scientifically proven that when you lovingly hold the hand of someone who’s hurting physically, or you hug them, their pain level goes down? I find that so fascinating:) But it makes a lot of sense since God created us for relationships!
And relationships are to be more than just a context for ministry or activities. God’s people are channels of His grace. He administers grace to His children through the members of the body, and if we aren’t making use of this, we can’t grow properly. This is something I missed most of my Christian life: I tried to do Christianity all on my own, and the few friendships I enjoyed with other believers were very superficial.
Sadly, I think this is the way it is with a lot of people. We are too afraid to open up and too proud to admit we have problems. At church on the Lord’s Day, when someone asks us how we’re doing, we respond with our pre-programmed “I’m fine. How are you?”
We don’t talk about the fact that there are areas in which we struggle because we believe we’re “supposed” to have it all together. Christians aren’t “supposed” to be depressed or anxious or fearful…are they? So instead of talking about what’s really going on in our lives, we continue to suffer in secret. We act as if by pretending the wound isn’t there or that it isn’t such a big deal, it will go away.
It’s a lot easier to cover up, minimize, or deny our shame and guilt than it is to take a long, hard look at our lives and deal with the things that lie beneath the surface. The latter can be very painful, and by not admitting that something is wrong, we give ourselves permission to stay the way we are and we don’t have to embark on the difficult process of changing. But by not striving to make improvements in our lives, we miss out on God’s best. We miss out on the joyful, purpose-filled, abundant life He intended for us.
It’s only when pain is acknowledged and brought into the open that it can be healed through grace and truth. Because by bringing transparency back into our relationships this way, we’re returning to God’s original model for human relations. When we stop stuffing our feelings and instead bring them out and into the light, we’re doing relationships God’s way, the way He intended them to be.
God always meant for human relationships to be transparent and vulnerable. This is how Adam and Eve related to one another before the Fall. They lived in harmony and honesty. It was only after sin entered the world through their disobedience that they lost the ability to communicate openly and started hiding, blaming, pretending, and covering up.
God’s work in us is a life-long process, and it involves us learning, growing, changing, falling, confessing, repeatedly turning from our sin, and developing more and more holiness and wholeness over time. This is something we need to remember whenever we feel defeated in our struggle against sin or when painful memories come knocking: We’re a work in progress and none of us can expect to change overnight.
At the same time we can take great comfort in the fact that God has given us all the resources we need both to recover from past hurts and to grow in godliness. He has given us Jesus as our Advocate, the Holy Spirit to guide us, the truth of Scripture, and the body of believers.
God is actively involved in our lives and has committed Himself to our spiritual growth. In fact, He has promised that the good work He started in us He is going to complete (Philippians 1:6). Therefore, we can have full confidence that with each passing week, month and year, we’re going to be transformed more and more into His image, until the day comes that we stand before Him in glory. This, my friend, is our hope, our strength, and our victory!