Imagine you were in a traffic accident where you got T-boned at an intersection. The other driver ran a red light and plowed into the driver’s side of your car. You were in the hospital for a week with broken bones and lacerations, and are in severe pain. Although you’ve chosen to forgive the other driver, you still have a long road to recovery and healing in front of you.
We hear often of Christians who try to link forgiveness to healing. The assumption is that once a person has forgiven the one who hurt them, they’re healed. If only it worked that way.
Trust and forgiveness can’t be forced together either. It’s months after your accident and you’re stopped at an intersection. You see the same driver who hit you before approaching. Are you going to floor it and enter the intersection as soon as the light turns green? My guess is you’re not putting yourself at risk for another round of traumatic injury and will wait to make sure the other driver has stopped completely before easing your car forward.
It’s the same way with the wounds of the heart.
Perhaps a man or woman was molested or abused in some way in their early years. They work their way toward forgiving the person who injured them, then assume the issue is resolved. I’ve heard “I dealt with that” plenty of times, meaning that, once forgiveness has been granted they should be healed. Except that, the person has come to us for help because they’re bleeding pain, anger, or depression and can’t figure out why.
Their heart still needs healing.
Maybe you’re the wife of a husband who’s been addicted to pornography and you’ve forgiven him, yet you find it nearly impossible to trust him. Trust comes from the heart; you’re in too much pain to open your heart and trust him completely.
Your heart needs to heal before it can trust.
To forgive is to release the heavy burden of carrying the other person’s sin, which is done when we choose to lay their sin at the cross and cease requiring restitution for what they’ve done. Forgiveness frees us of resenting what the other person did. It does not reset a broken relationship with new-found trust, nor does it heal a shattered heart.
Some make the mistake of thinking that because the person they injured has forgiven them that trust has been suddenly restored. Trust must be earned to be restored—treating the person we’ve hurt with patience and kindness over an extended period of time. Depending on the wound, this may take years, especially if there have been lies and deceit throughout the entire marriage.
If you need healing, here are some thoughts to ponder.
The person who hurt you cannot heal your heart. They can take the actions steps to restore the relationship, but they cannot heal your heart. Some people stay stuck for years because they’re waiting for the person who hurt them to reach inside their heart and patch it up. You will be miserable if this is you.
It’s critical that you have another brother or sister to talk to and pray with on a consistent basis. To stay isolated is to hide the wound; expose it to your trusted friends and ask them to pray for your healing.
Stuffing your feelings never works. You’ll just build up more emotional pressure for a bigger volcanic blow-out down the line.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Only Jesus can heal at the deepest core of the heart. Go after Him often with fervent prayer. Rest with Him and ask Him to speak to you. He came to set captives free and heal the broken-hearted. This is not flesh-fueled religion or hard doctrine; God is real; passionate, powerful, and overflowing with love.
Be prepared to wait on Him, and keep pressing in. Many Christians have a one-and-done approach to prayer and give up quickly. I have had wounds or sin I was in bondage to where I sought the Lord for freedom and healing for years. Some churches have cheapened the Christian life into “take two verses and call me in the morning.” Then when the hurting person doesn’t “snap out of it,” they write them off as backsliders or not having enough faith, adding more pain to their suffering.
Another option is to work with a counselor whose approach is to walk people to Jesus for healing, which is what we do at Blazing Grace. Feel free to contact us if this is you.
Photo: Viacheslav Iakobchuk