(come out, come out wherever you are) We can survive forty days without food, three days without water, and eight minutes without air. But it’s hard to last a single day without hope. One of the most fundamental questions of life, concerns hope….is there hope for my failing health, or struggling marriage, or my business or finances, my senior years, or for my children’s future? Dr Harold Wolfe a professor at Cornell University Medical School conducted a study on the effects of hope on the human body. He studied 25,000 ex- prisoners of war over a long period of time to see what was the difference hope made in their lives. All of them experienced terrible, and inhumane treatment…. brutality, abuse and solitary confinement during their imprisonment. What Dr. Wolfe found was that the prisoners able to get on with their life, without post- traumatic stress, were those who had an extraordinary high level of hope and the ability to let go of the past and accept whatever the future held. Isaiah 53:5 He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement (the full price) of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. Some of us have had broken bones…Some of us have had stitches… Some of us have had knife wounds…There might even be someone here who has had a gunshot wound…wounds from accidents, and moments of carelessness ….wounds from falling or even self-inflicted wounds (doctors conclude that much of our sickness and health problems are self-inflicted over extended periods of time)
We like to talk about our old physical wounds.
We like to share the details of the experience that caused us to get the stitches or the broken bone…and we usually embellish it a little…
and we show our scars… But the wounds and the Healing that I’m talking about goes beyond the physical….They are hidden wounds…..They are wounds that can’t be stitched or stapled or bandaged.
But just a split second remembrance of a hidden wound can cause pain, which we don’t want anyone to know about, and those wounds, we cover up and hide and it’s a cycle that perpetuates itself over a lifetime.
Memories of ridicule….Memories of criticism….Memories of neglect…. of prejudice…or of hatred and the isolation of lonliness….. Memories of abuse….Physical abuse…sexual abuse… emotional abuse… even spiritual abuse.
Where do you get hidden wounds? Everywhere we live our lives.
From Society…with it’s prejudices and judgments and labeling…
From Family…our parents…our children…our brothers and sisters…our aunts & uncles…and in laws and outlaws…And of course, from Friends… and acquaintances…Oh, yeah, and from the church…..
One thing is certain…everybody has or has had our will have, hidden wounds, and emotional scars…(unless you’ve been hiding away in a cave…and you’ve not been anywhere or done anything …and it only takes one person to get you to the wounded zone!
You may be masking it by wearing a permanent fasade. but most of us have some emotional scars from someone or something in our past.
Emotional wounds are like running a lost and found department….as soon as you find and resolve one, there’s always another one to resolve….and how many have found that it’s always easier to find and solve someone else’s inner wounds than to find and work out your own…. Tommy and Ray were playing golf and as they approached the first tee. Ray goes into his golf bag to get a ball and says to his friend, "Hey, why don't you try this ball." He takes a green golf ball out of his bag and says "You can't lose it, no matter what you do." Tommy replies, "What do you mean you can't lose it?" Well, says Ray, "If you hit it into the woods, it makes a beeping sound. If you hit it into the water it produces bubbles, and if you hit it on the fairway, smoke comes up in order for you to find it." Ray shows him all the possibilities until Tommy is finally a believer. This is totally incredible! Tommy literally shouts it out! Where did you get that amazing ball!" Oh, Ray replies, "I found it!!!”.
How many times have we thought we had finally lost the hurt, only to find it buried more deeply than before…
Another thing is certain – emotional wounds often take longer to heal than physical wounds.
A soldier comes back from war – he has shrapnel in his body; he’s limping; he’s got bandages on his arms chest and around his head…
In six or nine months he’ll be physically okay. But the emotional wounds from the ravages of war will be with him for a long time.
My uncle on my mother’s side fought in WWII in the South Pacific. If you remember my cousin, Robert and his wife who visited us… it was his dad.
I remember when growing up, I would stay at their house quiet often with my cousin, and on a few occasions I remember him having nightmares of killing Japanese soldiers and in a drunken state, he would chase his wife around the house, thinking she was the enemy. And the children would be sure to hide. She often had black eyes, bruises and marks where he had caught her. He had seen many of his friends die beside him in foxholes, and on battle fields of the war.
That was in the ‘60’s – the war was in the ‘40’s….He was in his 60’s – the war was many years before – emotional scars can last a long, long time.
But no matter the source – whether it was an enemy; a friend; a family member; a spouse (former or present); a Christian; a minister; a church member… No matter the source – Isaiah declares that there is healing for every wound! …there is healing for every hurt!
For every one of the greatest needs of man – there is a corresponding name of God…
1. Jehovah-jireh is The LORD who will provide
2. Jehovah-nissi is The LORD who gives victory and deliverance
3. Jehovah-m’kaddesh is The LORD who saves and rescues
4. Jehovah-shalom is The LORD who is our peace
5. Jehovah-shammah is The Ever Present One
Exodus 15:26 “I AM Jehovah Rapha, I AM the God who heals”
Jehovah Rapha is our healer today as He has always been….
In Psalm 147:3 the Bible says “He heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds”.
When Isaiah speaks of the Lord being wounded for our iniquities, the word used is ( khaw-law'….what is done to us by others, outside forces acting upon us, or, to be wounded by another)
You see, our sin situation requires a Savior…
But our emotional situation requires a Redeemer/Healer!
When we repent and are born again of water and spirit – that takes care of our sin situation…
But what we then need is a healing of the mind, the will and the emotions!
Being born again puts us in a right relationship with God…
But there are still some hidden wounds that need to be dealt with.
God is more interested in our salvation than He is our emotions…but the truth is…We can’t be everything He wants us to be…or do everything He wants us to do…and we can’t really live a fulfilling life if we don’t receive a healing of some things that haunt our hearts and minds! These things are stalkers, that stalk us in the shadowy places of our memories… Stalkers, are opportunist and manipulators who seize the moments when we are most vulnerable and susceptible to their deceptions and then take advantage of us. That’s a perfect description of our mental and emotional woundedness…...Stalkers!!!
God says, “Okay, I forgave you in an instant. I washed away your sins in a moment. I filled you with my Spirit, but there’s more to it than that…
“I want to free you from the stalkers, who stalk you in the shadowy places of your heart and soul. I want to heal the secret hurts, and the hidden wounds so that you can live a life that’s filled with joy and peace and happiness!”
Too many of us only let God deal with the sin part of our life – but never really let Him deal with the hurts that are deeply embedded within us…
And this only leads to frustration because we still have those wounds…
Those emotional scars of past abuses and criticisms and wrong doings…
And they hold us back from everything that God has for usbecause they continue to leave their stains on everything we do and every relationship we enter into…it’s what Pilate couldn’t wash off his hands when he turned Jesus over to the mob… You see 1Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, (if He is not who He said) your faith is vain, you are left in your sins. v19 Ifin this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
We go so far…things are going well…then suddenly our adversary – the enemy of our soul – reminds us of what somebody did to us and how that has affected us… or how we reacted badly to a stressful situation that we were thrust into…and it makes us feel less of a person or dysfunctional in some way….And immediately we’re disappointed again and we don’t trust anybody and we start questioning everybody’s motives and the integrity of their Christianity…
But God is saying “I want to heal those hurts…I want to bind up those wounds… I want to help you move on and get over that…!!!”
We give God our best praise, but there are some things that clapping your hands and singing and shouting hallelujahs, and even positive words, can’t take care of…(I certainly don’t want anyone to diminish their praise,)
But that’s where a lot of us Christians have missed opportunities to let God do some deeper things in our lives…we say the right words…have all the right moves…But the hidden wounds never get healed……why?
Because being in an atmosphere where there’s been a lot of praise, and God’s Spirit is there…and everybody leaves feeling great…may be just what we think we need, and that’s all good….
But we often have mistaken the feeling for a healing!
That’s why many of our lives are a Roller Coaster ride …
We leave feeling great…we’re on top of it all…
But by mid-week we’re back down again… Sunday, we’re back up because we were in church…
When that happens – it means your walk with God (your spirituality) is based more on your feeling than your believing…!
Based more on what you feel than what you allow God to do in you. Because you see, you don’t really believe a thing unless you are willing to act on it… and until we truly lay the hurt, the burden and the bondage of it upon Him, and we can think of the situation or the hurt without the feelings surfacing again….weare still victims of the stalker!!!
For Example…The Anointing…is awesome…powerful…and aprivilege…we don’t deserve… as Preachers, after having preached under God’s Anointing we may feel ten feet tall and bullet-proof… But the *…..next day…reality hits…and we’re back down to 5’-8” and vulnerable… time to take out the trash…. And pay the bills, and mow the yard, and repair the roof….And if we’re not careful – we’ll get on this roller coaster… And spirituality becomes more feeling than substance…
And that’s why so many ministers, who have hidden wounds, that have never been healed, begin to doubt their calling and their ministry…and like Peter and the other disciples, get so beaten up they go back fishing….
At times we wonder why we did everything so right and it turned out so wrong…. Pastor Jones, was playing golf with some of his deacons. On the first hole, he sliced into the rough. The deacons heard him mutter "Oh, Hoover !" under his breath. On the second hole, Pastor Jones’ ball went straight into a water hazard. Once again he said "On, Hoover!" but a little louder this time. On the third hole, a miracle occurred and the pastor’s drive landed only six inches from the hole, "Praise be to God !" he shouted! He carefully lined up the putt, but the ball curved around the hole instead of going in. "Oh, HOOVER” he erupted !!!! By this time, the deacons couldn't withhold their curiosity any longer, and asked why the pastor said "Hoover", when he made a bad shot. Well, said the minister, “I don’t curse, but Hoover is the only name of a dam I know." We can easily get into the thermometer Syndrome… It’s feeling based spirituality…or you could say…It’s based on the cycle of the moon spirituality…. It’s when your mood is the mercury in your spiritual thermometer and it’s always rising and falling with the external situation. Sothe question is – what to do? How can you finally move beyond this? How can you finally get healed of those hidden wounds of the soul? (Those wounds from the past that steal your joy…that criticism…the injustice…..that situation where you were done wrong……the verbal abuse…the emotional abuse…the physicalabuse…the sexual abuse…the backstabbing… the betrayal of a friend or someone you respected…) It might be something that somebody said to you [someone in authority like a pastor or someone you had respect for] and the words cut like a knife and you just can’t get over it…it’s filed away in your hurt library! God is standing ready…waiting in your “get around to it” line… and He is the one who is willing and He is the one who is able… He stands there in line as your “Jehovah Jirah”….but He won’t push his way in….
There are some things that we have to do…because what we ignore, we only perpetrate!
Let me share with you some Steps in this Healing Process
1. We must lay ourselves open to God… Here are two principals…. You’ll never get beyond it until you take steps to get in front of it. You must lead your emotions not follow them…
God already knows everything about you and me …But we need to open up and speak it out to Him…
The voice of your pain needs to be able to speak, but your will is the gate keeper of the prison of your woundedness….(repeat) The Bible talks about the problem of stuffing it down inside and not talking about it.
Psalm 39:3 “I kept very quiet but I grew even more upset. I became very angry inside, and as I thought about it, my anger burned.” David is saying that holding on to hurts is like carrying hot coals in your heart – you’re the one who’s going to get burned and French fried.
Hidden wounds, when you try to stuff them down, don’t heal.
They get infected and inflamed from the toxic soup, they’re soaking in.
And pushing a hurt aside doesn’t get rid of it… It just makes it worse.
In another place, the psalmist David said “When I kept things to myself, I felt weak inside and I moaned all day long.”
He’s saying that holding on to the wounds drains your energy and vitality and you walk around in a fog of discouragement and disapointment…..
People deal with these things in different ways…
1. Some people just try to forget it…and push it down inside…
2. Some go to drinking…drugs…or promiscuous relationships…
3. Some just turn their back on God…questioning what they believe…
4. People do different things – but none of them work…and somewhere it will have to be dealt with.
So part of the first step in revealing it to God – is you have to be honest…..
Honest and transparent with Three people:
1. To yourself – (sometimes this can be scary because you can only hide from yourself for just so long….) but stop keeping it in… talk to yourself…get honest with yourself… “I need to deal with this!” (you may look strange doing all that talking to yourself as you drive down the road with an empty car….(folks may look) but who cares!)
2. be honest with God – don’t be afraid to talk about something or somebody to God… He saw it happen. (I can’t see God going “you got to be kidding Me….REALLY”!)
“God, I have resentment in my heart toward so-and-so…”(really!)
Father, I am jealous or covetous toward them…(You’ve got to be kidding) Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. v16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
3. Be honest with one person you can trust –you have to be very careful with this one, but you have to do it… Someone had a great solution for this, tell your problems to a mime because they won’t be able to talk about *….it….Seriously, we will never be trusted with responsibility until we have a sense of accountability… find someone who has a track record of confidentiality… someone who is trustworthy and doesn’t flip-flop according to the cycle of the moon….
The second step in healing, is…Release The Person Who Hurt You… (this is a run don’t walk situation)….cause it’s not even about them, but the hurt you have embraced, that is trying to destroy you….don’t mess with the bull…..You’ll never be totally “set free and full of joy” as long as you have a “mark” against somebody in your heart. (they call it “holding a mark”) Withdraw all of your IOU’s and cancel out all the hurt accounts… The bible says Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged. v2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you measure out, it shall be measured to you again. v3 And why do you focus on the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank that is in your own eye? (in modern English…when you arrive at perfection, then you can expect it of everyone else!)
In order to truly forgive a person, you first have to ask God to forgive you for not forgiving them… I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again….the only reason we won’t let it go, is because we’re getting something out of the unforgiveness… getting even, feeding on the fantasy of revenge, waiting for them to get their just deserts, or the delayed gratification of someday being able to *……say “I told you so”! Someone said that unforgiveness is like me drinking poison and waiting for the other person to drop dead!... Resentment and bitterness is poison…Not only does it poison you – but it also poisons those that you talk to…I’ve seen it happen.
It has happened to me…hearing what someone in authority did or said to someone close to me – caused me to have less respect for that person….. I wasn’t even involved – but someone else’s resentment caused me to look at the other person differently. I was affected in my ability to see and judge clearly, by someone else’s resentment – that’s probably happened to all of us…
That’s why you have to be careful…
The Bible tells us…“pray for those who spitefully use you”. I appreciate the insight of the scripture found in Proverbs 25:21 “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he isthirsty, give him water to drink v22 For you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward you”. (heaping coals of fire on someone’s head was not getting back at them, orgetting even) it was a very positive thing….in that time, there was a “fire tender”, whose job it was to keep a large fire going for the community, so they could come with their fire pots, and gather hot coals for the home fire. It was a blessing for someone to fill the fire pot, so you could cook your food and stay warm in cold weather. Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. v45 That you may show that you are the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. v46 For if you only love them which love you, what reward have you? For even sinners do that? v47 And if youextend you welcome to your brethren only, what have you done, more than others? For even the sinners do the same? v48 Betherefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (again let me put this in modern English…. “Be at least as spiritual as the sinner is”)
The best way to release someone is to pray for them… (Now, I mean prayers that God will bless them, not GET THEM GOOD!)
A few years ago, TIME magazine had an article titled “Should All Be Forgiven?” The headline said: “Giving up that grudge can be good for your health. Researchers are pioneering a new science of redemption based on the old form of grace.” (that’s good…. “the science of redemption”)
(So scientists are finally figuring out what the Bible has been teaching us to be engaged in, for 2,000 years…)
You can’t hold onto a hurt and really enjoy life. You’ve got to let it go.
Not because they deserve it but because you want to get on with your life.
Whatever happened to you – Jesus went through it in the final hours of His life…Were you humiliated? So was Jesus.
Were you abused? So was Jesus.
Were you betrayed? So was Jesus.
Were you done wrong? So was Jesus.
Were you falsely accused? So was Jesus.
What did He do?
In His humanity, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” You have to release the person who hurt you…. I call it….“stop and drop”…
Stop the judging, because that’s what unforgiveness is…. And drop the labels you have put on them, to justify holding on to it!
So, we have said….You have to “Lay it open before God”… and
You have to “Release the person who hurt you”…
3. REPLACE OLD DATA WITH GOD’S TRUTH…erase the old hard drive…
Your brain is like a 1 million gig hard drive!....It records everything… Your hurts and your wounds are stored up in your knowledge, your attitudes and your beliefs files…. Somehowwe allow ourselves to get programmed to where the negative data is replayed more than the good information, and when it is played at some level we act it out…
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
That phrase… “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” could be translated in today’s terms to say…
“…but be transformed by replacing the old data on your mind’s hard drive.”
That scripture is telling us that our life can be transformed by something happening to our mind by something outside of ourselves, being embedded in our knowledge, attitude and beliefs files…
How?......First, you have to start asking God to heal your memories… Secondly, you have to start downloading more of God’s Word into your mind’s hard drive
2 Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore from this time forth we will know no man after the flesh, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on, we do not know Him after the flesh but after the spirit. v17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. v18 And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation… Hey, we have a new ministry, instead of IOU collector, we are by grace zeroing out judgments and installing Grace and mercy accounts!!!
The only way to get rid of a lot of negatives is to replace them with a lot more positives than there were negatives, and renewing the hard drive of your mind.
4th. Step to healing…Refocus On the Future from your new vantage point…Get your attention off the past and get refocused on the future, while being faithful to your present responsibilities. You’re sure to have a colossal accident if you drive, while spending too much time looking in the rear viewmirror!
“What does God want me to be?”
“What does God want me to do?”
“What’s my calling? ...What’s my purpose?”
“What ministry does God have for me?”
You may not know the answers yet but start driving toward the future… “forgetting about those things which are behind…reaching for the future”! [The Apostle Paul has told us]……How?
By building on your relationship with God!
How’s your prayer life?
How’s your Bible reading?
How’s your praise and worship?
How’s your attendance and participation in the House of God?
How’s your giving?
How’s your discipline with those desires and inner longings?
Those are vital questions that are indicators of your spiritual health and ability to keep landing on your feet in the rough, tough, tumble world we must live in!...Refocus On the Future, while being faithful in the present! It no longer matters what happened in the past!
Make a commitment to God today – “for the rest of this year, (starting today) I’m going to do everything I can to get closer to God…to build on my relationship with God so that I can go into 2013 looking forward to what God has for me!”
Don’t let your past determine your future….your past is not your destination, it is your compass.
He’s got a calling…He’s got a ministry… and a purpose for you…
He’s got a level of relationship with Him that you can’t even imagine…
But hidden wounds will hold you back.
If you want to get on with life…you’ve got to learn to trust again.
Because if you don’t trust – you can’t love…
And if you can’t love – you can’t really live.
We need to let God start the healing process today.
You know, we can get it all wrong, and say it all wrong, but God will always get it right…because he looks upon our hearts….
(Let’s bow our heads…as we stand together in His presence…)
One more time today – I want us to think of that person and that situation that has adversely affected our lives…
And I want us to…
1. Lay it open before God
2. Release the person who hurt you
3. Replace those thoughts with the Goodness of God
4. Refocus on your future and leave the past in the past…
Maybe someone else’s resentment and bitterness has affected you and the way you feel about someone…
You can begin the healing today…
It doesn’t matter who you are.
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been.
It doesn’t matter what the scar.
It doesn’t matter what the sin.
It doesn’t matter how you fell, somewhere along the way.
There’s healing for your life … beginning today.
Lord, You can heal broken hearts, bitter memories and damaged self-esteem. …patterns can be erased and reversed….self-defeating life styles can be stopped and new lives can begin again. You turn nobodies into somebodies. You can touch hurting hearts and minds today with Your healing touch of love. Let the river of Your redemption flow right now.
Pray this prayer with me, that is on the screen.. Lord, I know that You see and You feel all the pain in my heart, the hurt and the resentment and the anger and guilt, fear, insecurities. You see it all. I desperately need Your healing for my hidden wounds, my emotional scars. Jesus, You are my healer and my Savior, I invite you to enter my heart and touch all those life experiences which need Your work of grace. Lord, you know me much better than I know myself. Pour your love into my heart. Cleanse me Lord with your precious blood and wipe away all negative experiences. Today, by faith, I’m taking these initial steps. Help me to admit to You the things that have adversely affected my life. Help me to release the person that wronged me. Help me to replace thoughts of that experience which wounded me inside, with thoughts of your Goodness. *…..Help me to refocus on the future and Your plan and purpose for my life, as I faithfully attend to my responsibilities in the here and now. Thank You for bringing me to the House of God today to receive Your life giving word. I commit these things to you… In Your name, I pray. Amen.”
I close with this quote…. “Dance as though only God is watching. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though only He can hear you. Praise for an audience of One. Live as though heaven has truly come into the earth.”