Oh, those hurting hearts

wordswag_1515764749806This is Us is a TV drama that tells the story of the Pearson family. Kevin, Kate, and Randall are each successful adults who deal with issues to which many Americans relate. In the skillfully written drama, the past is interwoven with the present, giving us a look at the backdrop of decisions and feelings. This week’s episode was an emotional one. The family gathers at Kevin’s rehab for a session that gets intense, where old resentments and hurts come alive, with anger and tears.  Well written and beautifully acted, it was a moving hour of drama! (For this pastor, the one missing element of the show is faith. God is not present, sadly.)

I believe it is fair to say that we all have our wounds, hurts that we carry around. One reason This is Us is so popular is that the writers hook into real and familiar situations. Some us are carrying terrible pain from abuse, abandonment, and/or cruelty. Some of know the ache of being part of an imperfect humanity; slights, insults, missed expectations, and oversights.

Hurting hearts and wounded souls are real in us and the pain plays some part in how we relate to others today. Can we heal? Is there relief from the pain?

Jesus is the healer of broken hearts. He forgives our sin, loves us completely, and sets us free from slavery to regret and sin- ours and those who sin against us. When He announced His mission, He quoted words from Isaiah that are full of promise.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” (Isaiah 61:1-3, NLT)

But, before we are too quick to conclude that a single prayer will heal us, consider this. Healing of the wounds of the heart is much like healing of a wound in our body. It takes care. It requires time. And, we will always carry a scar.

The Gospel is sometimes presented in a way that makes it seem that one quick prayer magically wipes out years of pain or regret. It is true that the Cross of Christ is completely sufficient. We are made right with God – completely – by faith.  We gain an unshakable assurance of eternal life, a gift that is provided fully by His death and resurrection. Our healing, however, is a process.

Want to start to heal? Prepare yourself to get honest, to rip the bandages off of the wound.  Sound painful? It is!  It may require the help of a skilled counselor, a Pastor, or a patient friend to re-visit some awful, infected place in the heart.  But, unless we are willing to touch it, to open it, to talk about it – it will just fester. There will be actions required.

Our wounded hearts develop defenses and coping mechanisms, not always the best or healthy ones, either. Becoming willing to set aside resentment, to change those things, to forgive – is never easy.  But, we can, and with the help of the Spirit, our hurts can heal.

The value and power of forgiveness cannot be overstated. Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. ” (Luke 11:4, NIV)  He reminds us that our own reconciliation to God requires our willingness to forgive others. Even on the Cross, He showed the way when He cried, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  So what does that kind of forgiveness look like? We are not asked to forget the offense or to pretend it does not matter. Real forgiveness starts with faith in God’s justice, the sure knowledge that He will settle all accounts. Assured of this, we release those who have wounded us to Him, handing off whatever debt we think is owed to us to Him. And, we can then start to heal.  Believe that, friend, for it is God’s way.

The paradox of healing for the Christian is that as we learn more of our Father’s heart towards us, as we become more deeply aware of His holiness and purity, our own sins become more clear to us!  But, instead of shrinking into shame, enveloped in guilt, we also learn of the grace and love of Jesus. That love, amazing, persistent, free, and complete, fills in the holes in our heart; we become whole. And, forgiven and loved, we learn to forgive and love!  “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. ” (Romans 8:1-2, The Message)  “Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.” (Romans 8:6, The Message)

Do old wounds still hurt? Is the way you live today too often shaped by pain from yesterday? There is healing. Oh yes, there will always be scars. When I was 9, I crashed through a glass door, slicing my wrist deeply, creating a bloody wound. A half century later the marks in my skin remain to remind me of that frightening moment, but the pain is long gone.

Here is a word from the Word. Find healing and grace. “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:12-15, NIV)

_________________

Healer Of Broken Hearts

Is your life full of heartaches and sadness?
Are your dreams all shattered and torn?
There is One who through mercy and suff’ring
For you ev’ry sorrow has borne.

 He’s the healer of broken hearts,
He’ll mend your shattered dreams.
He’ll pick up the threads
Of your broken life,
And weave them together again.
To your soul He’ll bring peace and joy,
A Friend in need He’ll He’ll be!
The Healer of broken hearts
Is Jesus of Galilee.

Georgia Stiffler © 1945. Renewed 1972 Fred Bock Music Company (Admin. by Fred Bock Music Company, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

1 Comment

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One response to “Oh, those hurting hearts

  1. Another healing paradox of the maturing Christian is when we learn to move away from feeling guilty, which is still a focus on our self, and instead move toward embracing a healthy sense of guilt, coming to recognize and acknowledge when we have done something wrong which we need to atone and seek forgiveness for so we can be reconciled with God and one another.

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