UNLEASHED Vol. 13 – Healing

  1. We need healing!  This life is amazing but hard.  We must endure a lot of pain this side of heaven; but we don’t have to focus solely on it OR let it control us!!!  C.S. Lewis understood this well when he said, “God allows us to experience the low points in life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.”  There is a lot of beauty through the pain of this life, if we are willing to see it.  God wants us to heal and be happy!  Our life is (or should be) about loving God and loving others (Mark 12:30-31); there is so much joy to be had, but we have to want to heal and allow ourselves to heal in order to demonstrate the transformational power in Jesus to the world!  It’s a heart issue, when our hearts are hurting, life is confusing.  We get clarity with healing.
  2. We live with an enemy who is constantly trying to hurt us, get others to hurt us, or get us to hurt ourselves. “Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8.  In this volume I am going to focus on spiritual and emotional healing, though we know at times we may also need physical healing and we know God is the great physician.  There are countless examples of Jesus performing miracles of physical healing in the New Testament.  He can do the same today both spiritually and emotionally for us.  But we have to WANT to heal.  Often, we say we want healing but we are all too comfortable playing the victim; feeling sorry for ourselves because of our pain and using that to justify our sin, lack of spiritual growth, and to explain our excuses for being miserable.  Sometimes we are more than happy sitting around licking our wounds and wallowing in self-pity, going passive, and allowing ourselves to be taken out of the game.  In order to heal, we need to go to Jesus!  Plain and simple!  He is always there for us, but we have to take the step towards Him.  We need to pray, surrender, let Him in, and forgive in whatever capacity necessary to move forward clean and free.  We can pray for every type of healing in faith, “Have faith that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” Matthew 21:22.  I think we most often run into the need for spiritual and emotional healing because of the wounds we have and the amount of pain and sin we deal with on a regular basis.
    1. Because of the fall, back with Adam in the beginning, God’s perfect plan changed; sin entered life.  Sin brought pain, suffering, and lies which all create wounds (see Unleashed Vol.5 wounds -https://318menoffreedom.com/unleashed-writings/unleased-volume-5-wounds/).  Those wounds sprout from the enemy in the form of sin against us from others, from the world, from the devil himself, and self-inflicted sin (see Unleashed Vol.7 idols – https://318menoffreedom.com/unleashed-writings/unleased-volume-7-idols/ and Unleashed Vol.12 sexual purity/lust – https://318menoffreedom.com/unleashed-writings/unleashed-vol-12-sexual-puritylust/).  We need healing from these spiritual and emotional traumas.  It takes work; it’s a battle, a war!  But it is worth it; there is FREEDOM on the other side!
      1. One of the most painful things I have ever had to endure was losing my dad to cancer.  I was 14 when we first found out he was sick, and the level of pain I felt was immeasurable.  I was scared and confused, like a solider in shell shock.  I knew this kind of thing happened to other people, but was it really happening to me?  Once I heard he had cancer I went to despair and began mourning him right away, as if he were already dead, knowing that someday the cancer was going to take him from me (though he would put up a ten year battle in the long run).  I was a young believer, I was put to the test and failed.  For the first few years of his cancer I just shut down, got quiet and floated through the rollercoaster of ups and downs that come with cancer detection, surgery, chemo, radiation, cured / its back, repeat.  Once I was 16 I had freedom!  I could drive!  I got a girlfriend, and as the cancer rollercoaster got scarier, I began grasping for relief in places other than God.  All snares from the enemy to wrap chains around my heart to keep me from staying close to God.  I bounced from one idol to the next searching for what would help take the pain away, or at least numb it enough so I didn’t have to feel it.  I was living in sin, deep unrepentant sin; I was so good at justifying it to myself because “I had it so bad, I deserved relief” and believing “I still love God… He’s just not enough.”  I was creating a lot self-inflicted pain and wounds as I tried to make myself feel better on my own terms.
    2. There is a purpose for your pain.  Each side (good and evil) is ready and waiting for you to make a move.  God’s purpose for your pain is to draw you closer and more dependent on Him.  If there were no pain or wounds or if we could heal ourselves we wouldn’t feel the need for relief from pain and we wouldn’t think we need Him.  Naturally, we avoid pain, so when we do experience it, we want relief ASAP!  That’s why He designed it this way, the only answer for relief is ALWAYS JESUS.  A.W.Tozer sums it up nicely, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christ-like, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”  And I will be bold enough to add that with this understanding it also resolves a great deal of pain, wounds, sorrow, despair, bitterness, and unforgiveness too.  On the other hand, the enemy is more than ready when we don’t turn to Jesus for healing.  The enemy is loaded with plenty of lies to get us to think we can heal ourselves with a substitute in the place of Jesus.  When we go down this road we are trying to put a Band-Aid over the wound or pain by thinking someone or something will come through for us, believing the lie we can get life from idols or others.  And when idols don’t come through for us like we thought, the enemy is waiting again with the next set of lies to pull us further and further down into self; bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness dominate our hearts here and we are far from God.
    3. We have to stop being so surprised by wounds and pain!!!  We live in a fallen world, unfortunately we need to brace ourselves and be ready for things to be difficult at times, but we also have to remember the truth in Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  We have to know ourselves and know our enemy.  Our flesh always wants everything to be easy and pain free.  We have to understand, “In this world you will have trouble” John 16:33, and expect it to hurt and be hard sometimes, but gain strength in and relish in identifying with the sufferings of Christ.  “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” Romans 8:17.  We have to be able to find joy in the fight!  We have to see the big picture; the point of this life is NOT ease and comfort, but to battle for truth and bring glory to God!  And realize that there are causalities, injuries, and wounds in battle.
      1. When I was younger I believed the lie, “It’s not supposed to be this way.”  And because of that all the pain of my dad’s cancer took me off guard.  I was so surprised by the pain, I was unprepared to handle it.  So I fell, and fell hard.  But I’m grateful because even though I turned my back on God, He never turned His back on me!  As I look back to those days I KNOW God was with me, He was there protecting me and getting me though all the mistakes and sin.  He loved me enough to keep me around and forgive me!
  3. The struggle is that we live in a dichotomy of two realities, a battle between “good and evil”; which will we choose and allow to dominate?  We have flesh in the game (the enemy within), the world, and the devil pulling us to the “evil” reality, and we know the truth found in Jesus is the “good” reality.  Life is messy; we have all these feeling and emotions and convictions and truths and the water can get very muddy.  We feel the Holy Spirit stirring within us, but we also wrestle with the flesh that rears its ugly head time and time again.  Jesus wants us to heal, to cling to Him in the midst of the storm.  He wants to bring relief, security, and meaning to our lives when we are grasping and feel like everything is out of control.  Patience is a huge part of the healing process; trusting Him to take care of us in the darkness, it takes a lot of faith!  Again A.W. Tozer sums this up nicely, “Trust God in the dark until the light returns.”
    1. The world is cruel, and does not care about you.  The world tells many lies to us which can distract us, demoralize us, desensitize us, and lull us into an intoxicating foggy reality.  Often it’s not until you are in way too deep before you realize you’ve been chasing an idol the world put in front of you.  Instead of living for God, you’ve been chasing after something the world puts value in, and suddenly you realize you are being consumed by the very thing you thought was so great.  Now you have regret, remorse, guilt, and shame all tied up with a cute little bow in the form of a wound from the world.  Other ways the world wounds us is by attacking our sense of manhood with lies that cut us to the core if we are not focused on who we are in Christ.  Some of these lies might sound like this, “You have to look a certain way to be a man.” “Don’t admit weakness, a real man is always right and always has the right answers.” “You have to have it all together.” “Men don’t feel or have emotions.”
      1. I heard all of these lies and more during my college years where I felt I had to “be tough” and prove I was a man.  The more I hurt, the more I sunk deeper into despair and self-medication to numb the pain.
    2. The devil will lie to us constantly, and when we believe the lies, wounds occur. “You are a victim, poor you…” “You deserve what happened.” “It’s not a big deal, get over it.” “It wasn’t your fault, blame…” “You’re the only one.” “You can’t trust anyone.” “Prove yourself.” “God doesn’t love you.” “It is God’s fault, why would He allow something like this to happen?”  When we begin believing lies like these, we begin the slippery slope of demoralization.  Suddenly you don’t care about the same things you use to, your moral fiber begins to soften, and you let small things in.  Before you know it, you’re doing things you said you would never do.  Now you have shame, guilt, and remorse; better hide it so no one knows.  Once you get here, the enemy has you right where he wants you: alone, weakened, and afraid of the truth.
      1. In college I knew the way I was living was wrong, but it seemed easier to stay hidden and not let anyone in than to admit I was hurting and needed help.  Fear and shame controlled my heart and kept me chained down.  I constantly lied to everyone around me to stay in control.
    3. The flesh, well, we are our own worst enemy here.  We can get so good at justifying our own sin, and when we do we only make the self-inflicted wounds that much deeper, not to mention the wounds we are inflicting on those around us.  The flesh is a coward, weak, and passive.  It will ALWAYS go for the easy way out; well what seems to be the easy way out that is.  The “easy way out” will actually just make things worse!  The flesh will go to a logical “manly” place of problem solving to try to “fix” and “heal” wounds on its own by convincing yourself you can do it on your own without God.  Suddenly you are running to an idol believing the lie “This will make me feel better…”, thus escaping, giving into passivity, hiding, or self-medicating (getting drunk, drugs, porn, overeating, over spending, infidelity, avoidance, blame shifting, indulging in rage).  Other lies the flesh will tell can lead to depression, “You’ve got it so bad, you deserve…” “No one will understand.” “This is all too hard, too much.”  “You don’t have what it takes.” “You can’t handle this.”  The flesh will also get you to compare yourself with others, “What Mr. Smith does is much worse than me; I’m good.”
      1. In college I got really good at hiding.  I got really good at wearing masks around different crowds.  I got really good at posing so everyone thought I had it all together.  I got really, really good at justifying my own sin and comparing myself to others to rationalize it.  I definitely gave myself a lot of self-inflicted wounds when I was trying to fix my own pain.
      2. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8.
      3. The flesh wants you to focus on self, to be selfish, blinded from everything else around you.  The world revolves around you.  The flesh wants instant gratification, now!
    4. There is also another area of the flesh here, the flesh of others.  Much of the pain and wounds we endure come from the flesh of others.  Think of all the times someone else has deeply hurt you or abused you; that is their flesh talking…
      1. When I was younger I definitely felt some wounds from my parents, ones I wrote about in vol. 5.  I used to be mad about it and blame them for certain things, but now that I’m older I understand more about life.  I had great parents who tried their best, but now I know no matter what, we are all broken people and we will all wound our kids in one way or another.  I don’t think their wounds to me were intentional at all.  I’ve been able to see that, surrender it to God, love as He loves, and forgive as He forgives.  There were definitely times in my life where I was not the best son to my mom because of resentment I had towards her due to unforgiveness I had in my heart.  Once I allowed Jesus to help me process it, it changed my heart and my relationship with my mom is the best it’s ever been.
  4. Why do we need to heal?  Why not just live in blissful ignorance, justifying sin and being the victim?  Is it selfishly to make life easier on you?  No.  We NEED to heal so we can be the best man we can be for Him and His Kingdom.  We need to heal so we can allow Jesus to break the chains of the enemy that are around our hearts.  We need healing so we can live out of love and gratitude for what He has done for us and serve out of the overflow of joy in our hearts for what we have received.  We need to heal so that we can love as He loves, forgive as He forgives.  We need healing so we can be the best that we can be at work; so we can be the best husband that we can be; so we can be the best father that we can be; so that we can be the best servant leader that we can be.  We need to heal so that we can do all these things because we are truly FREE; there is no other way to heal and find freedom except through Jesus!  No more settling for second best!
    1. When I was grasping to get relief from my pain, I was settling for second best and actually creating more wounds and pain in the process.  It was a vicious cycle.  Only in Jesus was I able to break that cycle.  I had to come to Him broken, wounded, with nothing; and ask for everything.  I had to admit I was nothing without Him, that I desperately needed Him and surrender everything to Him.  I had to come to him dirty and unworthy, deserving nothing, yet expecting something.  I had to trust Him with my mess.  I had to show Him everything, holding nothing back, He knew it all anyways.  I had to accept his love and forgiveness, which can be harder than it seems sometimes.  Then I had to forgive myself.  This was really hard because I was so aligned with the enemy I was brainwashed to think I was my sin; that all my mistakes defined who I was.  Jesus reminded me I had to stand on the two pillars of the Christian life; repentance and faith.  Repent and turn from the sin and have faith that He would equip me and sustain me; there is so much freedom getting to this point!  THAT SIN DOES NOT HAVE TO CONTROL ME ANYMORE IN THE NAME OF JESUS!!!  I am a new man in Him!!!  I am free to love as He loves and forgive as He forgives.  I am free to fight the enemy and build God’s Kingdom here!!!
  5. So how do we heal?  The solution?  Though we feel the battle every day we have to battle well!  It’s so easy to forget that the war has already been won!  If we are with Jesus we are victorious!  Jesus reminds us, “I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world” John 16:33.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, we don’t have to let all the sin and pain and wounds chain our hearts down any longer.  There is healing and freedom in Jesus!  Go to your links of support!
    1. Link #1 God:  We have to go to Jesus for healing!!!  We have to admit we need help; this is not a weak thing to do, it takes great courage and strength to admit you need help.  We have to let God in and allow Him in to every part of us, we have to want to heal and surrender it to Him!  He is a loving, caring, and forgiving God.  He will heal all wounds and pain, He will love and forgive all sin!  Psalm 130:4 “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”
      1. Isaiah 58:8 “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”
      2. Jeremiah 33:6 “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
      3. Job 22:21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”
      4. Matthew 26:28 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
      5. Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
      6. Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
      7. C.S. Lewis, “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”
      8. John Eldredge has outlined four steps to healing the wound with Jesus in Wild at Heart that I think are really natural.  Eldredge reminds us on page 129, “There are no formulas with God.  The way in which God heals our wounds is a deeply personal process.  He is a person and he insists on working personally.”
        1. Step One: Surrender.  “We invite Jesus into the wound, we ask him to come and meet us there, to enter into the broken and unhealed places of our heart” – page 130.  “You have to go there with him.  Lord Jesus, I give my life to you, everything I am, everything I have become.  I surrender myself to you utterly.  Come and be my Lord.  Be my healer.  I give you my wounded heart.  Come and meet me here.  Enter my heart and soul, my wounds and brokenness, and bring your healing love to me in these very places” – page 131.  We have to trust in faith that He will take care of us and we must surrender to Him; Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
        2. Step Two: We Grieve.  “We must grieve the wound… it is the only honest thing to do.  For in grieving we admit the truth, that we were hurt by someone we loved, that we lost something very dear, and it hurt us very much.  Tears are healing.  They help to open and cleanse the wound”– pages 131&132.  I am also going to add here that we need to grieve self-inflicted wounds.  In our depravity we are capable of hurting ourselves very much; once we see the light, we must also grieve that wound we’ve given ourselves.
        3. Step Three: We Let God Love Us.  “we let him get really close to us.  Abiding in the love of God is our only hope, the only true home for our hearts.  It’s not that we mentally acknowledge that God loves us.  It’s that we let our hearts come home to him, and stay in this love” – pages 132-133.  We get our identity here, that we are his child, his love.  Once we feel His love and forgiveness we must exhibit a change, we must live with more gratitude, more vigor, more love and forgiveness for what we have experienced.
        4. Step Four: We Forgive.  “Time has come to for us to forgive our fathers and all those who have wounded us.  Paul warns us that unforgiveness and bitterness can wreck our lives and the lives of others (Eph. 4:31; Heb 12:15)… forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and then discovering the prisoner was you… Now you must understand: forgiveness is a choice.  It is not a feeling, but an act of will” – page 134.  Here I would also add forgiving ourselves for self-inflicted wounds, for if we can’t forgive ourselves, we cannot move forward.  Mark 12:30-31, the double love command.  We must love God and love others.  To do this we must love as God loves, unconditionally; and we must forgive as He forgives, unconditionally.
    2. Link #2 Wife: Your wife is your better half!  She needs to know you to support you.
      1. Women are relational.  It will speak volumes to her if you are strong enough and open enough to share with her your story, your struggles, and where you are at with wounds and healing.  This will feel very scary and uncomfortable, but trust me, she will respond more positively than you think.  She needs to know you, the real you, not the fake you.
      2. The more you let her in, the stronger your relationship will become.  She knows it’s hard for you to share.  She will feel safer with you knowing you have trusted her with your heart.
      3. The more she knows about you, the more she can understand what makes you tick and the better she can support, respect, and love you.
      4. So communicate with her often, and share where God is leading you through the healing process.  There is a lot of healing for you just talking it out with her.
    3. Link #3 Brothers: Don’t go through the pain and wounds alone!
      1. Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
        but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
      2. Proverbs 13:17 “A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
        but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.”
      3. Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are a honeycomb,
        sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
      4. Don’t struggle alone.  Battle well by including guys you trust with your story.
      5. Four Streams – an inner-healing ministry by David Colborn is a great book on healing.  In it he describes how he learned the four streams from John Eldredge’s Book Waking the Dead.  The four streams of healing are Discipleship, Counseling, Healing, and Warfare (Deliverance).  He describes how you can go through the four streams on your own, be lead through it by a brother, or lead a brother through it.
        1. Page 11. “Four Streams is the use of four different avenues to bring life, wholeness and freedom to the heart.”
        2. This is where men can walk the walk together.  I suggest reading this book.  It is a guide on how to lead yourself or others through the four streams for healing.
        3. Share your story with men you can trust.  Confidentiality is essential!  But don’t be afraid, the enemy wants you to have shame, fear and doubt so you won’t share.  But you will find that the more open and honest you are the better you will feel and the more inviting you will seem to others.  Being authentic is very appealing and encourages others to do the same.  Being authentic creates trust, respect, and safety.  Trust me guys you are not the only one who struggles, who has pain/wounds, and needs healing.  If you have a pulse, you have problems!  Talking about it takes so much power away from it.  There is so much freedom when you are known and walk with some guys who truly “get” you.

Going to Jesus and surrendering our pain and wounds to Him is the greatest way we can break the chains of the enemy and heal!  It’s all about surrender.  We cannot do it alone, so don’t!!!   Don’t waste another day suffering when you can find freedom in Christ!  Take one day at a time, but get moving.  Remember, we are all a work in progress, so be patient, but keep going!!!  Guys this stuff is not just in your past, yes we need to heal from those things that happened back then, but pain and wounds will keep coming in this broken world.  Once you experience healing, it helps you cope better, recover more fully, and forgive/love faster the next time.

Here are a few songs that really strike a chord with healing: “Come as You Are” (not Nirvana’s version), “Lord I Need You,” “My Heart Is Yours,” “Here’s My Heart Lord,” and “How Can It Be?”

 

Questions to ponder:

  1. Remember guys, NO ONE IS PERFECT, what self-inflicted pain/wounds of the flesh do you need to surrender, accept forgiveness from, and forgive yourself for?
  2. What wounds from other people do you need to surrender, forgive and heal from?
  3. What wounds from the world do you need to heal from?
  4. Is surrender, forgiveness, or healing hard for you?  If so, what is the first step you can take to move closer to healing?  Which of your links of support can you go to first to get some traction?
  5. Where in your life do you need patience with healing?

 

In Christ,
Nick VandenBerg
3:18 Men of Freedom
Team Leader

Twitter: @318m
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