There are lots of societal notions which seem to make sense in the world. Yet these have almost no true bearing in our Christian faith. Our Christian faith is quite unconventional and in many instances far removed from accepted conventional wisdom. One such example of this is the broadly quoted notion that ‘Time heals all wounds‘. For us, this is almost certainly not the case. Time just has the effect of covering up our wounds with scar tissue and burying some of the pain. Only God heals wounds.
Many Christians also erroneously assume that in the moment we became born-again, our deeply buried wounds were reclassified into to the category of ‘old things are passed away’. Whilst making a genuine decision for Christ does instantly breathe new life into a man, the reality has been very different for too many of us.
Too many of us became new creatures bearing old wounds.
Does this mean that Christs saving grace is incapable of saving us unto the uttermost? No. The common reality is that whilst we yielded all other things to Christ in the course of conversion, far too many of us never wholly opened up enough of our deep wounds and yielded them to Christ for dealings. Blame our flawed conversion process and our false notion of altar-calls. Of course becoming born-again was just the starting point in what would perhaps be a life-long pilgrimage to perfection, yet our persisting inability to fully permit Christ’s saving grace after x number of years continues to stunt our development.
Christ assured us that in life we shall have tribulation John 16:33.Through Job’s vast experience on the subject matter we also learn that every man born of woman is surely born into trouble Job 5:7 in one way shape or form. Walking the path of life requires interactions, and in human interactions we often find conflicts which so often lead to wounds and hurts being given and being received.
One question to ask though is:
- Can we successfully walk-out the christian journey of faith still bearing these wounds in our bosoms?
- Exactly what impact do such unhealed wounds have on our faith walk and the testimony we ought to show forth?
Joseph’s shining example: Old Testament, yet an eternal testimony.
Joseph’s life in the book of Genesis offers eternal lessons for a New Testament believer on how to live out our faith walk in such a manner that is Christ exalting and edifying to the body of saints.
Joseph was one man whose experience typified how deeply a man can be wounded by those closest to him. Loved by his father; yet despised by his big brothers.
- He witnessed them throw him in a well.
- He witnessed them actually deliberate killing him.
- He witnessed them hatefully sell him into slavery like an unwanted dog.
There are a lot of us reading this who can relate to Joseph’s pain and betrayal in our own unique circumstances. We are:
- Wives who have been pierced deep by our husbands betrayal and physical abuse….
- Sons who have been disowned by fathers….
- Daughters who have been molested and abused by father figures…
- Husbands who have been disrespected consistently by wives
- Children who have lived through painful separation of broken homes
Our churches are filled with droves of us believers from these categories and more; who love Christ and follow him, yet we remain quite deeply wounded and damaged.
The bible doesn’t tell us precisely when Joseph ‘came to terms’ with all the wounds inflicted on him in the course of his life. Yet when we hear him speak in Gen 45, it’s clear that he was a man who had been made ‘Whole’. Fully contented and reconciled with all the injustice that had been inflicted upon Him in life.
4And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
5Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
6For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
7And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
Lesson 1: ‘Come Near Unto me’:
[The Christ-like response Vs. The Sinful response to every hurt]
‘Come near unto me’ are words which too many of us still find impossible to utter towards our offenders. Our instinctive response to people who hurt us is to keep them as far away as possible, maintaining the barest minimum contact. Where we don’t have the luxury of keeping physical distance, we certainly take the liberty of locking them away emotionally. This response is purely in line with the natural law of self-preservation. But herein lays the problem. The root of Sin is Self, and anything self is not consistent with the laid down example of Christ.
Whilst we may ‘feel’ perfectly justified in doing this, from Christ’s perspective one bad turn of sin/hurt against us does not deserve another. Remember the idiom ‘One good turn deserves another’? Well it’s yet another idiom inconsistent with the new covenant.
Joseph came to a place where he had no qualms drawing his offenders closer. Perhaps because he had come to understand their role in God’s divine purpose for his life.
For several season of my life, i had someone whom i had to depend on. The person absolutely put me through emotional and psychological hell. I was glad to see the back of them, but some years later i was astonished to hear the Lord say to me ‘I used this person as an instrument to disciple you for those seasons of life‘. This statement of the Lord to me gave me a perspective that allowed me to soften my attitude towards the person permanently. Not to say that every single cruel person to you is an instrument of God, but its important that we hear His voice and get the necessary revelations if we are to gain proper perspective. The challenge we face though is that we become fo fixated in the wounds that we deafen our ears to hearing Christ.
In Luke 6:27-29 Jesus explicitly lays down the standard of grace unto us:
27But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. 28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
Notice His deliberate statement in vs.27: ‘I say unto you which hear’: though there were many present who were ‘listening’ to him, yet he knew that not all would ‘hear’ (receive into their heart his saying. When his words run contrary to our emotional pains and sense of self=justification, its all too easy for us to turn a deaf ear to Him.
Have you heard Him? speak to you about surrendering that hurt?
Or have you merely been passively listening?
In fairness to us, Joseph’s declaration in Gen 45:4 ‘come near to me my brethren, I pray you’ came when he had been made whole, after 22 odd years of separation from his offenders.
Christ requirement of us un Luke 6 requires immediate obedience. Yet He is patient and long-suffering with us because He understands that only a man who has gone through the crucible and whose heart has being redeemed by Him can successfully do this. When you are able to do this and act also like Joseph did, then you begin to know that you are maturing as a Christian and are being made whole.
Christian maturity is not a function of how long one has believed, but how well one has responded to the dealings of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Sadly there are many of us who act as though we are mature in the faith, but in truth we are only still infants. Babies who have heart defects rarely ever grow in stature however many number of years they have lived.
Have you been born-again for 15years+ and still have open wounds from dealings with your parents/siblings/spouses which are unresolved and still inform your countenance?
Lesson 2: Christ confronts us in unexpected ways: [First the Log in your Eye]
The one who hurts you will be responsible before God for his/her action. However we who have been hurt are duty bound to respond in a Christ-like manner to that hurt. We must not compound their sin against us with another sin by responding in-kind.
For we are accountable for our response before God.
Many times in my personal walk where I have been dealing with hurts from interactions, I have yearned in my heart to the Lord to rise to my defence and certainly execute vengeance on my behalf before I can move on from the matter. Yet when the voice of the Lord and the conviction of the Spirit has come to me on the matter, 95% of the time He didn’t come with soothing words but rather with stern rebuke; flat-out pointing out my own culpability and wanting me to focus on addressing it.
Am i making Christ sounds like He is nonchalant and unsupportive?
Certainly not! For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknessesHeb 4:15. Yet He is more focussed on conforming us into His image (sometimes utilising those hurts and wounds as tools of conformation to our benefit), because therein lies total victory and peace.
Lesson 3: < the Person, < Incident, & More of Christ: [We’ve got it backwards]
One common misunderstanding of Christ’s approach in healing our wounds and making us whole is this concept that the true path to healing involves confronting the person and the past incident to get some sort of ‘resolution’ or ‘closure’. Even in the recent book/movie taking western Christianity by storm ‘The Shack’, we see portrayed this concept that if God is going to heal you He will have to take you through this step by step guide to healing.
There is little or no biblical evidence supporting this approach to healing wounds.
Joseph was made whole without confronting his brothers nor Potiphar’s wife,, neither did he have to visit the locations of his involuntary incarceration. Hannah’s path didn’t conform to this, neither did David’s. Nor any significant biblical character for that matter.
Contrary to societal and professional counselling norms, Christ will not always hold our hand and take us down memory lane to confront the incidents and persons all over again. Neither is there any biblical indication that God’s healing process requires you to understand your offender. Or ‘walk in their shoes’.
For what greater understanding do you need about any man save to know that any man outside Christ is base and depraved and worthless and self-conceited, and very capable of doing you the greatest damage over and over again. Just so, you outside of Christ are no different than that spouse/parent/sibling and are capable of even worse atrocities.
Christ was the answer, Christ is the answer, and Christ shall forever be the answer. God heals us by causing us to behold Christ.
Actually when we confront the wrongs and persons we are in danger of getting forever stuck in hindsight never being able to move forward.
When we behold Christ long enough, one thing that comes into us is contentment in Him, and where we have contentment in Christ we almost certainly do not require anything else.
Lesson 4: Remorse is Unnecessary • Apology is Irrelevant • Acknowledgement Inconsequential:
[Christ needs none of these to make you whole, neither do you…Let go, so you can hold unto him firmly]
For all their heinous crimes against Joseph and the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with them not to sell him as they rightly acknowledged in Gen 42:21-22.
We don’t actually find any record in the bible to indicate that his brothers made an outright apology to Joseph. The remorse which they demonstrated in vs 21 was more about buyer’s remorse: for they lamented the karma which seemed to have beset them.
Quite magnificently Joseph by the time he encounters his brothers, having been made whole finding contentment in God and understanding of divine purpose never actually required any apology, acknowledgement nor remorse from his brothers. He had gained perspective in God, and thereby needed no input from his offender in forgiving them.
When we truly surrender and behold Christ alone, He takes away our need for requiring some form of atonement/recognition from our tormentor. In giving us himself, He gives us a peace and contentment which is complete in Him. His work in us needs not be augmented by any of this. Many times where we stubbornly hold fast onto the record of these hurts and demand remorse from our offenders. By this so, we ignorantly hinder Christ’s work in us and prevent Him from making us whole.
My personal testimony: ‘Letting go is quite liberating’
At age 13 I suffered a very devastating breach of trust by an elder whom I looked up to. This event scarred me so badly and produced a raft of trust and confidence issues for decades of my life. Though time passed, it had been buried deep under a thin veneer, and in my quitter moments I would dig it up and mull over it, over and over.
Deep down in my heart I had always nestled this need to wring out some form of acknowledgement, remorse and apology from my oppressor. I thought at least this would give me some form of closure in the matter, so that I could move on.
20 years later, I had the opportunity to confront the person privately which I did in the calmest and sternest manner I could. What I got in response though was the blankest and most vacuous stare I’d ever seen on the face of a human being. It was almost as though I had imagined everything, and it didn’t actually exist for they appeared to have no recollection of the event.
What I had waited for all these years turned out to be rather a non-event and instead of closure this threw me into another 4 years of rage and self-torment as I returned to the same cell in my heart in which we both occupied. Only this time I also put God in the cell with us both, for I felt that He had failed to administer justice as he ought.
I continued seeking the Lord steadfastly in other areas and serving His people, until one faithful afternoon suddenly the voice of Christ came unto me as though it had a physical bodily form. It completely isolated me in this bubble as He spoke to me and opened my eyes to see a sort of film record play before my eyes what happened in these 10 mins frankly seemed like 1 day.
In those 10 mins, He laid me bare through His words. He made me see man’s utter depravity and hopelessness without Him. In that moment I knew that no man is good (including myself the believer in Him). He helped me understand that I had been looking at the wrong person all along. For my gaze had been partially behind at the incident and the person, and one eye on Christ. But He corrected my focus. He broke my will to hold unto those hurts that day, and ironically i became free. I have never had a more profound encounter with Christ, for since that day I have been completely free from the anger/pain and condemnation of it. I react lovingly towards the person and I faintly only remember the matter these days as He has pre-occupied my heart with more glorious engagement of Him and the Kingdom. My spiritual life also exploded multiple fold since then as the anointing of God and the gifts of the spirit operate more powerfully and effortlessly through my life and in ministry.
Praise be to His name.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
- Who has caused you the greatest hurt?
- How are you responding to the person?
- Are you still clinging on in your heart for some form of acknowledgement, remorse or apology before you can close their file?
- How long will you remain captive to this cycle of wounds?
- How long will Christ plead with you to open those closed areas of your heart to Him? And unclench your fists around those records of wrongs?
- Do you want to be free like Joseph and show forth an exemplary response in righteousness that will demonstrate Christ’s glorious work in you?
- Do you actually desire to be all Christ desires you to be in Him?
Please surrender to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to loose you from every bond of bitterness and pain. Ask Him to help you break free from the hurts. Ask Him to give more of the revelation of His love to you and cause you to fix your gaze upon Him.
May He grant you grace and liberate you forever so that you can become all that He wants you to be in Him.
Grace to us all.
Some previous Posts:
The Marriage Bed undefiled ¦ Titles, Honorifics, Tributes ¦ The Night Cometh