Many Christians don't talk about past wounds they have endured. Sometimes these woundings are financial, marital, familial, or church or friends that have caused great pain.
It's not only that unpleasant things have happened to good people, but their heart actually gets hurt.
For some it is the public humiliation of bad choices that were made or false accusations that go public. Many of us have heard of a pastor who has fallen or has been accused and years later had a ministry larger than ever.
For some, this season of humility or humiliation is just the beginning of a God promotion. For others, it adds a depth or level of passion or compassion for others or for the ministry.
Unfortunately, the fruit of our wounding may not be clear for a long time, if ever. As a man who has endured several incidents of woundedness, I personally know that it can take a decade before I begin to understand why. I have, however, found that in almost every case, my past wounding has brought life and healing to others in the future.
Let's look at a few biblical examples of woundedness, starting with Abraham:
In Genesis 12, right after God called Abram, a famine struck Egypt. So, Abram went to Egypt. He told Sarai his wife to lie and say she was his sister. Abram gains sheep, cows, donkeys, camels, servants—he was getting rich on the deal of Sarai being his sister and it probably felt great. People liked him, good things happened and then bam! One of the most powerful people in the world at the time, the king of Egypt, rebukes him for lying to him.
Next came the family pain of his nephew Lot becoming a prisoner of war. After that followed the pain with Sarai and Hagar and Ishmael. As a father who was promised so many children, to see his first-born leave must have been agonizing. Then came the long aching in his heart for decades due to not having children and not seeing the promise fulfilled. That must have hurt. Especially since everyone knew that he had said God would do such a thing.
Then next, Abraham does the "She is my sister" routine again with King Abimelech. Again, he is questioned publicly before all the officials. Fortunately, even in this mistake, God blesses Abraham. Then he had the ultimate test of sacrificing his son Isaac to God.
By now he trusted God, but still this was a long trip up the mountain for Abraham. The death of his wife also was a heart pain. While following God, you will go through wounding. Some of our own doing, some not of our own, but you can be sure that this is a part of the process.
Let us now turn to the King of kings. Jesus, who led a sinless life, was also wounded along the way. There could have been early family members and friends who questioned the immaculacy of his conception. He grew up in the real world of a business owner. Somewhere between the ages of 12 and 30 his earthly father dies.
This hurt the Son of God because Joseph was truly dear and a faithful role model to Jesus in the ministry. Joseph was a self-employed man, who had the ministry of loving Mary, Jesus and the rest of his family while working and attending synagogue.
Another great loss was when John the Baptist was put to death. In addition to the grief of John the Baptist's death, Jesus had to endure the day-in, day-out questioning of His heart and motives from the religious sect. The pain of being misunderstood was a constant wounding by those doubting Jesus' deity.
Jesus endured the betrayal of the disciples just before the time of His death. Physical, emotional and spiritual mocking occurred prior to His crucifixion. Being hung naked before the crowd on the cross when He had done nothing wrong was painfully humiliating. He was a King who knew wounding like no other.
Isaiah 53:3 describes Jesus as "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Hebrews 5:8 reveals that Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered. Sometimes our wounds are a learning experience out of which we can receive something important. Other times it's not just we who learn, but others as well.
Isaiah 53:5 states, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed."
I don't like it much, but I know from personal experience that God has repeatedly used my wounds to heal others. Jesus was wounded for others as well. We can again see how many of the kingly are wounded along their way of life. It seems to be true that no matter how good we are, pain still happens. Even when wounds are self-imposed or consequences of bad choices, they are still very real.
You may be wondering what to do if you're in the midst of a wounding right now. Perhaps something in your family, business or personal life is causing you significant pain. I want to outline a few guidelines that have been helpful to me.
- Pray. Ask God if there is anything that is yours to own up to, such as wrong choices, bad attitudes, sin patterns or general lack of love. If He finds something to work on inside of you, let Him do His work. Talk to your pastor in this process. Often involving your priestly minister in a painful time in your life can give you added spiritual insight.
- Get in the Word. When you are experiencing pain, delve into the Bible more than just once a day. Keep it with you in your car and in your desk at the office. It's so important to have the Word speak to your heart. At times it will offer correction; other times it will bring encouragement. The Word will wash you and fill you, as well as get you through this hurtful time.
- Worship. This is a perfect time to celebrate God, His goodness and His mercy. In the midst of your woundedness, when you least feel like it, lift up your voice and your hands and thank God that He is a good God. Play some worship songs, clear your mind and heart of the issues, and focus on Him, who is always worthy of praise. It might start off slow and with difficulty, but eventually you can make progress until you agree with the angels of how worthy He really is. When I've been wounded (which has been numerous times), worship gets me through the day or night.
- Submit. I don't necessarily like this step either, but it is very helpful to submit to people who love you and hopefully have your best interest at heart. As long as the advice is godly, try to comply.
- Record. Get a journal of some kind and write down what you are doing to cope with your situation. Also, use this journal to write down what God is saying to you. Often, He talks clearer when we are listening. His words to you can be life.
- Friends. The need for friends is true at all times but never truer than when you are going through a wounding. As Americans we live mostly alone, but in the midst of pain, we need to huddle up with friends. Share your hurts, pains and imperfections during this difficult time. This is often when you find out who your friends are. They are the ones who will be there for you when things aren't sailing smoothly.
Again, these are six steps you can take to help you when you are in the midst of a wounding time in your Christian walk. You must stay close to God, His Word, and other brothers and sisters in Christ. Although you are almost guaranteed to have hard times, the Lord has great plans for your life. Furthermore, those hard times are often part of the plans. So, stay close to the Lord, learn all the lessons you can and wait for the good plan to come to fruition from your loving, heavenly Father.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books, including Ministry of Kings and Queens: From Laity to Royalty. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com; on hisFacebook; by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at email@example.com.
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