“The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.” Isaiah 61:1-3
God is in the business of healing and restoration. Do you believe this? It is often hard to believe this when we are in the middle of a trial, especially if it is ongoing and/or long term. We can tend to become so used to living in turmoil and anxiety that coming back into a non-threatening situation can feel strange, and even uncomfortable. We can fall into the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” mentality. Unfortunately, this type of thinking, while understandable, can slow the healing process.
So, how do we get unstuck? Sometimes just “getting over it” not only seems difficult, but completely out of the realm of possibilities!!! Well-intentioned friends who try to help can end up seeming like heartless enemies – enjoying your misery, and rubbing in the fact that it should be easy to get over it. Scriptural promises can sound trite in the face of overwhelming heartache or strife.
I was thinking about this today, while talking with a friend who has been dealing with this very thing. I was reminded of the movie “What About Bob?”. In this movie, the main character deals with a debilitating phobia of almost everything. He goes to see a psychiatrist who doesn’t have much time for him, but hands him a copy of his new best-selling book “Baby Steps”. Bob latches onto this book and the advice it contains, and through a hilarious series of events, “baby steps” his way into a confident life. This movie is a comedy, but it illustrates a way to deal with struggles we may have in life.
I remember a period of time in my life when things were so overwhelming and painful that I would wake up in the morning and say – out loud- “just put one foot in front of the other.” If I could manage even a low level of activity, I was doing well. During that time, I had a small band of sisters in Christ who would call and check in with me daily to see how I was doing. They would come see me at the first suggestion that I needed them. They would spend as much time as they could afford listening to me and talking me through a particularly rough spot. They would come pick me up and take me to their houses when I felt I couldn’t be alone. They lifted me to Christ in prayer every single day. Like Barnabas, they continually spoke encouragement and truth to me, even when I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) hear it. It took a long time, and a lot of patience on their part (that I am convinced came from the LORD Himself), but I gradually got stronger. And, as I did, it became easier to hear the truth, and have come to a place of healing.
Here are some lessons I learned from that time:
- Sometimes healing is gradual. That’s OK. Even though we may want everything healed all at once, that may not be the best thing for us. Learning to see the small victories help us to realize that God is still at work.
- Forgiveness doesn’t always need to be sought in order to be given.
- If we keep waiting for people to ask for forgiveness before we are willing to forgive, we set ourselves (and the other person) up for failure. We subject ourselves to harboring bitterness, which can weigh on our hearts and emotions, and become an almost insurmountable mountain of pain. We subject the other person to the seemingly impossible task of re-earning any amount of our love for them. This becomes a vicious cycle of fear, doubt, rejection, anger, and insecurity on both sides. Not the best way to promote healing.
- If we are willing to forgive, it frees us to love again. Sometimes we need to keep safeguards in place, especially where there is a lack of repentance, but forgiveness releases us from bondage to pain, and also makes an allowance for repentance from the other person.
- Addressing smaller issues first, and seeing healing in these things can make addressing larger issues a little easier. Even in the case of an illness, a clean pair of pajamas can help to alleviate some of the discomfort of a fever. So it is with emotional pain. One burden relieved can give renewed strength to face the next thing.
- Keeping things light is a good thing! When things are so serious and so painful, sometimes we can forget how to have fun. We need to learn to play and laugh, even when it is hard to do. “a cheerful heart is like a medicine”. How true those words are!
- Moving forward from the point we are at can be more healing than trying to “solve” every painful instance from the past. Sometimes, continually looking back can keep us in the cycle of pain and discouragement, never allowing us to see hope ahead. The enemy can win a great victory if he can keep us thinking “remember that time? or remember when?”, instead of listening to and standing on God’s promise to “give us a future and a hope”.
- Perfection and healing don’t equate – that is why grace and mercy are needed! Having a bad day or a setback in something doesn’t equate to hopelessness, either. Jesus Himself says we will have trouble. But in the same sentence, He tells us to take heart (have hope) in Him.
- A friend loves at all times. Not always in the way we think we want to be loved, and certainly not always perfectly. They will say hurtful things sometimes, they may tell us things we don’t want to hear, and they may seem like our enemies sometimes. But, the proverb comes to mind “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
- The thing I learned the most is that God is still faithful, and His mercies really are new each day. He does heal, though we may not see healing in our preferred timing or our preferred way. But, when we stand on His promises, and learn to rest in the arms of Jesus, He will give us the grace we need to face each day.
I pray that if you are struggling today, that the love of Jesus will minister to you even now, and that you will begin to see the light of hope that He brings. May you, even if it’s one step at a time, keep abiding on.