Friday, October 10, 2014

The Hurt of Healing

The mere thought of the process of healing being painful is enough to make the strongest individual shudder in fright.  Why?  Simply put, no one likes pain…especially pain in the midst of pain.  Haven’t we been through enough?  Why in the world would someone volunteer on a daily basis to submit to unwanted discomfort?  Because the pain that we endure for the sake of Christ and Him crucified is not for this life only, but for an eternal life to come. 

I can never come close to illustrating this for you as well as Paul does.  Often times through his letters to churches and individuals he mentions the numerous trials and adversity he and his followers have faced.  In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV he summarizes his afflictions by stating, “we are hard pressed…; perplexed; persecuted; [and] struck down”.  Nevertheless, in the beginning of verse 16 of this chapter he declares that he will not give up.  “Therefore we do not lose heart.”  Why, why, why?  Why would someone endure such affliction?  We now see his absolutely beautiful response to the question of why in verse 17.  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (emphasis mine).

How someone who has suffered so much could call his afflictions “light and momentary” defies most human understanding.  But Paul understood something that many of us haven’t come to comprehend at this point in our Christian walk.  Summarized, he is saying “there is no trial or pain that I can suffer upon this earth that even comes close to the benefits and beauty of my eternal home”.  Paul, of all people, knew what troubles were, but he also understood that each one of them was shaping him into what God wanted him to be.  But many may ask, if he was saved, wasn’t that enough?  He had gained the ultimate prize, salvation, so why continue to endure such hardships?

There are two very important things that I want to point out that are the result of Paul’s, mine or your afflictions (encountered in life’s circumstances or through an intentional quest for healing).  The first benefactor of our hardships is us.  Whether we have to come to the knowledge of this or not, God uses even our not-so-favorable circumstances to form the likeness of His Son within us.  Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”  

I don’t know about you but I have reached a point in my life and journey that I can, honestly and without a doubt, say that I am grateful for my afflictions and the hurt of my healing.  No, they have not and still are not fun, but I recognize the benefits they have brought to me.  I can only imagine where I would be had I not suffered tribulations in this life.  In my husband’s office at the church he has a statement that he wrote hanging on his wall that states, “There is a greater measure of Jesus Christ to be had in brokenness than there is in happiness and comfort”.  Truer words have yet to be uttered. 

Look at your life and see if you can’t attest to this statement as well.  What has been your level of need for Christ when things were going well for you?  Do we call on Him as we should when there is money in the bank, kids are behaving, job is all that we wanted or our marriage is going smoothly?  Sadly, I can say that many of the “highs” in my life were my “lows” in my walk with Jesus.  Whether it is out of desperation or an awakening that to the fact that we can’t do this on our own, somehow our struggles seem to redirect our need and dependence upon Him.  And the same is true for healing. 

Healing is not a comfortable or welcoming place and its duration may be longer than we would ever hope for but we can rest assured that it is not a forever abode, but a journey where the load gets lighter along the way.  Unlike a long vacation where we tend to add more and more “finds” to our already laden luggage, in the passage of healing we tend to lose or discard things as we progress.  If healing, though difficult, can aid in lightening my load in this life, then I find that it is worth it.  I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I do not want to cross the threshold of heaven laden and burdened with the cares and scars of this life. 

I don’t want my scars to be a sad war story.  You know the old man or woman I am about to mention…the ones that you run from when you see them because you know all that they have to share is a woe-is-me tale!  You don’t want to engage in conversation with them due to the fact that you know you will walk away depressed after speaking with them because they have nothing good to say, saved or not.  They seem to sap every ounce of life and joy from your once vibrant being and you are left a shriveled mess.  I don’t want to be that person. 

When I enter into glory I want my scars to reflect the love that my Savior had for me that allowed me to endure suffering for His sake.  They are my beauty marks!  When I reach heaven I want to run in shouting “I made it and let me tell you how Christ seen me here!!  I can only enter heaven joyfully if I can find joy in my struggles in this life and that can only happen when I allow God to work in my sufferings and through the process of healing.  However, we are not the only ones who benefit from our afflictions.

We in the church world have often heard the cliché statement, “we may be the only Bible that the unsaved read”.  What does that have to do with others benefiting from our pains?  Everything and more.  It is a great detriment to Christianity when we as the saved paint a picture of gloom, despair and agony on me to the lost.  Everyone is going to face hardships while they are aboard this ride called life.  The Bible makes that clear in Matthew 5:45 “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.  

It is apparently inevitable that we will all at some time in our lives face the afflictions that life brings our way.  Nevertheless, when we understand, as Paul did, our trials are working out something within us that will yield a reward beyond this life, thus, making it possible to endure such times and still maintain our joy and peace.  So, what?  People make it through trials every day and survive.  Yes, true, but to maintain our faith and testify to Christ bringing us through, regardless of whether we can see the end of suffering or not, points definitively to Jesus Christ.  A child of God does not have to merely “survive”, they can THRIVE in the midst of the struggle.  I will borrow the lyrics of the popular contemporary Christian group, Casting Crowns’, song Thrive.  “We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives, it’s time for us to more than just survive, we were made to thrive”!!!!

It is not ordinary or commonplace for individuals to preserve their joy and peace while suffering afflictions of life and hardships of healing and the world knows that.  Yet for those who don’t know the love of Jesus, to witness such a stunning act of a sold-out saint giving God the glory and praise amidst “hell itself”, forces them to realize the work of Christ on the cross.  Psalm 40:1-3 paints a vivid and most beautiful picture of just what joy in the midst of a trial does for those who see it take place.

      1 I waited patiently for the Lord;

       He turned to me and heard my cry

      2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

       out of the mud and mire;

       he set my feet on a rock


      3 He put a new song in my mouth,
       a hymn of praise to our God.
       Many will see and fear
       and put their trust in the Lord.

Others benefit deeply from seeing God in us as we traverse in our afflictions of both life and healing.  Many people simply trudge through hardships and they meld into the crowd of others.  Yet, make no mistake about it, people take notice when we are drawn out of our pit of sufferings and have a song in our mouth!  It is not what the world is accustomed to and they sense the work of something greater, and it is.  It is the work of Christ in our lives.  May they see always see me praise my God through the adversity and may that sight cause them to fear and place their trust in the Lord.   

Hardships and sufferings are very much a part of life and more often than not, they are unavoidable.  However, healing is a choice.  It is not something that can be happened upon, but rather it is something that is intentional.  When one makes the deliberate choice to pursue healing God’s way, it will not be an easy task to embark upon.  Nevertheless, the results, regardless of how painfully obtained, will yield a life and freedom in that individual that resonates to their very core and will shout “God has healed me and I am truly free”! 

Unlike the others who choose to forgo healing, the one who intentionally sought their healing can attest that they did not merely survive their circumstances, but through their conditions they have now come to know Christ in a much deeper and intimate way. 

No price is too high to pay for our healing and God knew that when he rendered his Son, Jesus Christ, as payment; baring the stripes upon His precious back for our healing.  So when the hurt of healing begins to weigh heavily upon you, remember that Christ bore a greater pain for our healing.  Our healing was secured upon the cross and all we have to do is claim it and walk confidently in it.  It won’t be easy but the hurt of healing will soon result in the joy of healing and eventually the victory of healing.  


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