Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Hurt and the Healer

This morning I felt hard and exhausted. My husband experienced a crisis a month ago and in that situation made some choices that were very damaging to the trust in our relationship. I have been trying to process my feelings since then. Our relationship is in a state of repair. Repair is slow and painful. There is a lot of soul searching that takes place and analysis of identity. I am also finishing my therapist training program and attempting to find a practicum/internship site that is in the direction I would like and feel the Lord is leading my life to go. Also, my husband is getting laid off in a month from his job. So as you can see we are experiencing a lot of stress. This morning I turned on worship music as I always do when I am spiritually and emotionally suffering and I listened to a song by Mercy Me called the Hurt and the Healer. Immediately a flood of tears came and I shed tears until my Kleenex was drenched with them. "Why", the song says. Here's what God answered my heart today and in my situation. Right now I am reading in Hebrews. Today, again, chapter 12 because each verse seems to drip for me with wisdom and the Lord's direction. Verse 2, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...". Wow, is this ever hard to do when there is so much going on! How do I take my eyes off the thing or things I want, I lust for control over? Lust is a strong word, but I know I am not the only one who does not like suffering. In fact, most people habitually practice denial so they don't have to even acknowledge an area of pain, a thorn that causes suffering. That's a pretty strong desire/lust for control. What I know about this choice is, that thorn begins to fester and causes a much more drastic and systemic issue when it could have been acknowledged and removed. Oh, of course there is pain in the removal but its local pain that stays in the area of the hurt. Systemic pain, the pain of denial, spreads through our system of thoughts and values and beliefs about our world and the relationships in them. Honesty, that, brings suffering too and most often uncertainty. Oh how uncertainty makes us suffer when our eyes are not fixed on Jesus. Honestly, I still experience a level of the pain of uncertainty even when my eyes are fixed on Jesus, but with my eyes on Him I accept that I do not know and will not know, but He does. Learning to trust again. Learning to place my future and my identity in Him. When pain and suffering and loss or perceived loss is so real that it is hard to breathe I can turn my attention from this world and fix my eyes on Jesus and His unchanging nature and His deep and abiding love and acceptance of me. Verse 2, "...for the joy set before Him endured the cross...” After I have fixed my eyes on Jesus and I have allowed myself to suffer through my changes and growth I will receive my reward. It is not only the promise of eternal life but suffering will produce perseverance and perseverance will produce character and character will produce hope (Romans 5:2-4). And really, isn't it the return of our hope and joy that we crave when we are suffering? I try to escape from the painful process of healing but it is only in this process that I will ever find my hope and my joy returned to me! Jesus "sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). After His suffering he received His reward and His joy was complete! He understands us and our pain! Verse 3, "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". This world, our bodies, our minds, our relationships send constant opposition to the plan of simple joy. By simple joy I mean unearned joy. We would all desire to have joy that is not rooted in suffering. That kind of joy is like winning the lottery, I did nothing to get it, but sadly like the lottery because there is no attachment to it and process to possess it I will easily squandered it and then it is gone. Jesus suffered through us and suffered with us and suffered for us. He is to be our example. His reward was complete when he received his joy because that was his prize. Keeping it always in front of Him He endured this life, the preparation, the agonizing and humiliating moments and then the cross. As Christians our lives must mirror and will mirror His life. There will be opposition in the process of this life because that is what brings suffering and suffering in Christ is planned by God to end in joy. I am not saying that God has suffering planned but that God knows it will come especially if we are His and that what is planned is for Him to bring us through to our reward which is joy. He understands our weariness and weakness! And if that isn’t enough the writer of Hebrews reminds us in verse 4 “In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood”. Maybe someone reading this has experienced that level of persecution, pain, and suffering or knows someone who has. My pain is not physical but emotional, spiritual and most likely that’s your typical pain. This scripture reminds me to keep in mind I have not yet walked in Jesus’s shoes or suffered as He did. It could get worse? There’s something to thank Him for. Verse 5-6, “…do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves…” My pain, my struggle is over the giving away of ideas and demands that only work to benefit my pride and my sense of the way things should be. When life presents brokenness in one form or another it challenges me to allow God to enter into that brokenness and assist me to unravel it or hold my spiritual breath so to speak and harden my face and my heart to not have to allow Him to unravel it. In either case, unraveling means that He will open it up so that all the scary feelings and vulnerabilities are laid bare before Him. He will sit with me as long as it takes and He will discuss each one with me and together we will agree on the things He chooses to throw out and the things He chooses to keep. And when it’s done God will have shown mercy and I will have joy and I will sing, “I’m alive! Even though a part of me has died”. Mercy Me sings, “It's the moment when humanity, Is overcome by majesty, When grace is ushered in for good, And all our scars are understood, When mercy takes its rightful place, And all these questions fade away, When out of the weakness we must bow, And hear You say "It's over now"”! Sometimes this process happens once. Sometimes it happens over and over again. Sometimes it happens again and again in a single day depending upon the level of pride and the firmness of my grasp on what I believe I possess and will not let go of. No matter the case, God does not get tired or weary. He does not get impatient or angry. His purpose does not change and He is not willing to negotiate His will. He will be patient. He will be merciful. He will give grace and acceptance, but He will ask me and you to hand over what we were never meant to keep in return for joy. That kind of joy that doesn’t consume or demand or leave us owing something for it. It will be the joy we felt the moment we gave our hearts and our lives to Jesus the first time. The moment when the hurt and the healer collide.