In medicine I have seen patients with infected feet. They can be hard to heal. The key is to catch it early and provide the correct treatment. If not sometimes the foot ends up needing amputation for it is the only way to salvage the life. Although this may save someone’s life it also means they have to learn to walk again.
This analogy has hits home with me on many levels. For emotional wounds are similar to an infected foot. When left untreated they are more difficult to treat and sometime the only answer is amputation.
Through my years of journeying with Jesus I have learned a great deal about emotional wounds. In my youth I had no understanding of psychology or psychiatry. I only had my faith. God used my faith to keep me moving in the right direction but he eventually lead me to a counselor and psychiatrist to help me heal. For my emotional wounds had a physical component, a psychological component and a spiritual component.
The point I want to make today is how can the church help with the spiritual component? For many in the church have done me more harm than good but there have also many in the church that have very literally carried me. So what was it about the people in the church that allowed them to help me rather than harm?
The first trait they all had was a nurturing love. For love heals more deeply than anything else I have experienced. Not tough love or if you do this then I will give you love. They meet me exactly were I was and provided real love. They prayed for me and joined me in being present with God no matter whether it was “fun” or “comfortable.” They accepted me with no judgement and allowed me to explore my emotions and thoughts in a safe environment. They did not try to fix it, for the doctors and counselors were the ones doing the “fixing.”
But the even bigger part that comes after healing is learning to walk again. For if the infection has been there a very long time then you do not know how to walk without it. I believe the church can play an essential part in this phase by providing people a safe place to explore their God given talents and gifts to learn how best to serve God. The Body of Christ can be a training ground for those recovering.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Healing is a complex process. Sometimes God chooses to heal in an instant. Sometimes he choose to heal over a lifetime. Sometime we do not see complete healing until we meet him in heaven. But the it not only doctors that heal. It’s Jesus. The church is the body of Christ so it should be a part of the healing process. Without Christ you are nearly putting a bandaid on the wound. It’s incomplete.