“…And by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). I feel like the Lord is healing my heart because Joy is coming back spontaneously—erupting at strange times for no real reason— and that had stopped happening.
How do we let the Lord heal our unhealed wounds? If He is the One who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3), then why doesn’t He just do it? Here again, we find the principle at work that seems to govern how God’s Kingdom operates: he waits for willingness (He operates by the law of love). God waits for us to recognize our need and turn to Him for healing.
This is critical to understand. When a blind guy cries out for mercy, Jesus asks him “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matt. 20:32). Really? Jesus, the Son of God, can’t figure out what’s obvious to us all—he’s blind for goodness sakes. He wants to see! But before Jesus heals, He waits for his faith—respecting his freedom, looking for willingess. Why? These things engender love.
Jesus explained it this way, “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. (Matt. 13:15) What does a callous come from? From being rubbed wrong—a callous is protection against further wounding.
Our hearts become calloused when instead of turning to the Lord for healing, we turn away and do sinful, protective, reactive things. Perhaps it’s motivated by fear of being hurt, or pride over not wanting to admit we’re wounded, or an inability to slow down and listen—who knows. But if we keep doing this long enough, our wounded hearts get so hard we can’t spiritually see or hear from God. But don’t miss this, all it takes is “understand with your hearts and turn,” and look at what Jesus does—He heals us. He heals our wounded, calloused hearts. So, assuming you made your list from the last blog post, now…
1. Carve out solitude time. Make time and find a place to be alone and uninterrupted. I spent 3 hours one Saturday just listing all possible wounds, what happened, how it hurt me, and how I might have hurt others. Then I took another solitude time to go back through each (took me a whole day). It may not take you as long, but set time aside.
2. Pray for a whole, healed heart. “Jesus I want my whole heart back. Come and heal me in my inner being so that Your Joy and Love can flow through me again.” “Heal me, 0 LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jer. 17:14).
3. Go through one wound at a time slowly. Give Him permission to go to that wound or situation and show you what’s going on. Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” (Rev 3:20). Go slowly. Ask Him questions. Do not be afraid for “perfect love casts out all fear,” so let His love shine into the darkness. It’s really important not to run away from emotion—emotions tell us something about our hearts. If you really “go there” with the Lord to that memory, you may feel uncontrollable fear, or overwhelming sadness, or intense anger, or other strong emotions. Don’t run away! Running keeps the wound unhealed—turning away to busyness, achievement, eating, drinking, trying harder. You’re not alone. He’s with You to heal you.
PRAY: Jesus, come and lead me in healing this brokenness in my heart. Speak to me here, Lord. What are you saying to me? Give me ears to hear and eyes to see what you are revealing. Let no other voice speak but you. ~John Eldredge, Waking the Dead
4. Ask and listen. Ask the Lord to show you what’s going on and what He says about that situation. If you’ve never learned to really listen to the Lord, read my book, Soul Revolution, or Hearing God by Dallas Willard. Often lies will be attached to wounds, especially childhood wounds. A parent was abusive and we heard the lie “It’s your fault—if you didn’t screw up so much he wouldn’t have to hit you.” Now there’s intense fear of failure, or a driven perfectionism running over all our relationships. You need to hear His Voice—His Truth about what happened and what He wanted you to hear. Ask and listen deeply. He will often bring loving, kind, comforting thoughts—DON’T reject them—let them replace the lie. Accept His Truth—renounce the lie out loud—speak the truth. (If you don’t know His Word well, ask someone who does to help you know what God might say about that lie or situation).
PRAY: Lord, what is this fear, sadness, hurt, anger, etc. really about? Search my heart and know me—show me what’s going on. What lies did I believe about You or about me or life because of this? What’s Your truth You want me to hear, Lord. I renounce the lies. I agree with Your Truth. Now I give You permission to remove this fear, this sadness, this bitterness, this anger. You are in control, so I will trust in Your control, not my ability to protect or control. Take this away and heal my heart.
5. Ask for forgiveness. When we run from our wounds, we almost always turn to wrong things for distraction or comfort or to temporarily feel good–like food, illicit sex, pornography, buying stuff, cutting ourselves, over-achievement, even religious do-gooding. And when we’re hurt, we often hurt others. If we have done these things, Jesus will bring that to our minds. Confess them and turn from those old ways to Him and He will cleanse them (1 John 1:5-9).
PRAY: Jesus, forgive me for the ways I’ve mishandled my brokenness. You alone make me dwell in safety. Forgive me for all my self-protection and self-redemption, and for all my false comforters. (You’ll want to renounce specific sins you are aware of here.) Cleanse my heart of every sin by your shed blood. ~John Eldredge, Waking the Dead
6. Forgive and release. What often keeps us acting and reacting out of wounds is our unwillingness to forgive our offender. Anger held onto (Eph. 4:25-27), resentment and bitterness (Heb. 12:15), and especially unforgiveness gives evil a foothold in our lives. Jesus likened holding onto grudges or unwillingness to release someone from the debt we feel they owe us like being handed over to torture. We’re giving the evil one permission to torture us. We aren’t punishing our offender, we’re giving ourselves over to spiritual torment and torture (Matt. 18).
Forgiving is not forgetting. God says He will remember our sins no more, but God can’t forget. What this means is that God will not use the past against us (Heb. 10:17, Ps. 103:12). When we bring up the past against someone, we have not forgiven from the heart—we have not released them. But it’s not the offender still tied with a noose to that wound—it’s you! Forgiveness is a choice. A crisis of the will. We are to forgive as God has forgiven us. As Neil Anderson says, “To let them off your hook. But they are never off God’s hook.” That’s why forgiveness and release is an act of trusting God. Trusting that God is the just judge who will forgive and hold accountable (Rom. 12:19). Thank God He pays the debts of all who realize they need His forgiveness.
PRAY: God, I trust You to be both the loving, forgiving God I need, and to be the righteous, just, judge who will make sure justice is done. Lord, I forgive and release (name) into Your hands for (name the specific offense or offenses).
7. Go make amends. Ask God for your assignment related to this incident. We are told to do all we can to live at peace with all people—that’s what keeps that bitter root from poisoning us and others (Heb. 12:14-15). Ask Him, “Is there anything I need to do to live at peace with this person?” Write it down, and go do it.
What will follow is His peace, joy, and a love that’s Divine.
There are two books I highly recommend, which helped me through this process. One is Waking the Dead, by John Eldridge. The other is Victory over the Darkness, by Neil T. Anderson, which has the seven steps to freedom which I walked through in this process.