I would like to submit the following in caution/clarification to some of the content I published recently in “The Thing About Hearts”. Though it may have some individual benefit it is written mainly for this purpose.
Simply experiencing pain does not make us like Christ. All of us suffer but few of us look like Jesus, or affect the world as He did. What makes us like Jesus is being willful in the wounding and willing in the healing. Jesus did not stay wounded.
To simply be wounded can be quite dangerous. Some of us are tempted to hold on to our pain… self-made martyrs for all that we’ve suffered. It is our badge of honor and often the scapegoat for our own short-comings. At the end of the day we don’t let the wound close. We don’t let Him heal us so when people actually see our heart there’s nothing but a bloody mess of scar tissue. Sometimes we’ll even let ourselves bleed out leaving naught but apathy.
Another temptation is to hide our pain. Either for guilt, or fear, or the pretense of virtue we stuff it under the layers of life. We bury it (like one would a treasure) and hide it from the One who would make it well. In time our wounds grow infected. This we now called bitterness and it is a rot that finds it’s way to the deepest part of us- the marrow of our soul and yet also, seeps from us; tainting everything we say and do. I can’t help but picture a man who’s eaten too much garlic. He may brush his teeth and shower but the scent is leaking out of his skin. So it is with bitterness. You can smell it on the soul.
I have found that I often try to avoid pain; be it conflict, rejection or simply being unappreciated. So often I’m posturing myself in the place of least discomfort. As He is growing my faith I see that there’s no place for such things in the kingdom. To love God, to love what He loves, means to suffer. But it also means to be healed. We cannot hang on to our pain. It’s strange to think that we want to, but we do. For one simple reason…
Hurting enables us to dwell on ourselves.
But we were meant to dwell on One much greater than us. It is our fullest joy and our deepest peace to do so. Christ did not dwell (in any sense of the word) on His cross. He did not glorify it. He glorified the Father on the cross! And then when the suffering had accomplished it’s end He rose up healed; “leading captives in His train”. Now tears spring to my eyes. Truly I, if any, am such a captive. And it is the sweetest endeavor to follow in kind. To neither avoid nor be overcome by pain, loss, sorrow or wrong. But to instead, with all faith and humility overcome such evil with good. Leaving behind paths of healing for others to follow.
Father, only you can heal the soul.
Only you know the deep wells of the heart and only you can set us free from chains of brokeness that shackled us before birth. Today, let faith rise up in the place of pain. In the place of fear, loss and offense. Cause us to both endure and overcome that You might be shown glorious and we may know Peace! Salve each tender scratch… each ragged tear. Thank you that you give us a Comforter. I pray that we would receive your comfort in trial and relish in Your nearness despite all circumstances. Mostly, thank you for the innumerable times you’ve healed my own heart. Even from hurt I’ve caused myself. May the sweetness of Your presence be felt in our hearts.