A Crash Course in Handling Pain – Part 3: Healing and Wholeness

If you’re not much into reading but prefer to listen/watch, here’s a 38min message on a similar topic from Brian Johnson.

Here’s Part 1 and Part 2

The Good News!!
I have some great news for you. You were not created to live in perpetual pain! The issue is a lot of us identify so closely with our pain that it becomes a part of our identity and our self-perception.scared

If we see the prison of pain as part of our identity, in the battle for freedom we’ll fight half-heartedly because we’re afraid of who we’ll be if we win! We’ll have no more excuses for why we can’t do things or for keeping people at arm’s length! We’ll have no more excuses for not trusting or loving others. Scary stuff!

Check out what the bible says about Jesus. He was “…despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” (Isaiah 53:3) What does that mean? It means Jesus knows pain and understands it. He knows your pain and understands it. He understands the temptation to press your face into your pain and never come out! But he didn’t, he had something else in mind.

“If we see the prison of pain as part of our identity, in the battle for freedom we’ll fight half-heartedly because we’re afraid of who we’ll be if we win!”

Elsewhere it says that “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” (1Peter 2:24) If you don’t know this already, Jesus took a serious beating before he died. He was stripped, whipped and humiliated. We even created a word to express the unbearable pain of crucifixion – excruciating. While on the cross he was actually offered wine mixed with gall which helps to numb pain but he refused it! He faced the pain of our sin head on! It’s all wrapped up in this phrase: “By his wounds you are healed.” Jesus went to the cross and bore all of that pain so that we could be freed from the rule of pain which comes from sin. But what does this have to do with your pain?

Here’s some more bible. Jesus wacked out this sweet line at one point: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” If you’re into pain-indulging, pain-bearing or pain-numbing, you’re carrying something that Jesus doesn’t want you to have to carry. He’s taken that responsibility on himself. It’s a little strange when you’re carrying something heavy and a stranger comes over to offer to carry it for you! We often reject them or we treat them with suspicion.

“Jesus knows pain and understands it. He knows your pain and understands it.”

Can I ask a favour? Can we just get past the lie that “time is a great healer?” That’s absolute nonsense and if it were true, prison would actually fix people! For those of us who know Jesus, sometimes we need reminding that He is much stronger than we are and He’s a much better healer than time! As I said in Part 1, we understand that physical pain following a trauma is usually a sign of a well functioning body. The pain itself is never the enemy, it’s an indicator of a deeper issue and it’s that issue that needs attention. The pain isn’t to be avoided but addressed.

body-castWhen you suffer from a deep physical wound you need to have the wound treated, disinfected and dressed. After some time you need to remove the dressing, check the progress of the wound, treat it again and re-dress it. I find it helpful to think of our emotional healing processes in the same way. We allow Dr. Jesus to get up close and personal with it and we distance ourselves from things that could make it worse e.g. if I’ve just had a horrific breakup, I probably shouldn’t hang around my friend who fancies me or if I’ve just lost someone close to me, a trip down to the off license may be off the cards for a while. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:4 that if we have been hurt, we HAVE to mourn. In fact we’re blessed if we mourn because only mourners receive comfort. Everyone else tries to manufacture comfort for themselves.

After a while the wound may begin to hurt less as it heals. It may actually hurt more to start with but there will be times when the dressing is pulled back and we get to see the progress we’ve made. Maybe we have a mental flashback of a situation or we’re asked to trust someone who let us down before. In those moments we might find out the reality of the progress we’ve made so we’re better informed to continue with the process. If you need to cry, cry! It DOES NOT mean the person who hurt you wins! “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. As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, ‘The tears…streamed down and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested.’ Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered.” (John Eldredge – Wild at Heart) Like I said before:

“Trivialising the wound or pretending it didn’t matter doesn’t heal it. Ever seen a football player try to play on with a broken leg? The fans might adore you for it in the moment but your team won’t. You need to get it sorted before you do yourself more damage and become a hindrance to your team.”

My dad is a surgeon and my mum used to be a nurse so growing up there were all sorts of medical journals in our house. Man, there are some things that you just can’t un-see but I’ll tell you this, surgery is messy and the deeper the need, the messier the process. You might have a cut on your finger or you might have a perforated bowel. You might need a plaster (band-aid if you’re American) and a kiss on the forehead or you might need scalpels,  lasers, staples and stitches! I’ll leave that to your imagination but emotional pain is no joke and we MUST engage with the process if we want to live whole and healthy lives.

I’ll end with this. Forgiveness is the enemy of emotional pain. Emotional pain often latches onto us through unforgiveness in our hearts and unforgiveness becomes the leash of Pain around our necks. As the saying goes, “Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and then discovering the prisoner was you.” Jesus holds the power of forgiveness and he wants to give it to you so that pain is no longer your master. Not so that you won’t encounter pain but so that you won’t be ruled by it. Let Jesus take your pain away and show you who you were born to be. Do you want to be free?

My amazing sister Joanna drew this picture and added this note: 

“Kintsukuroi is the Japanese word for the art of repairing pottery with gold. The belief is that the piece of pottery is more beautiful for being broken. This spoke to me of how God can put us back together when we come to Him broken, and can make something beautiful out of our brokenness.”
Check out more of her art at: Joanna Rosanna Designs

Thanks for reading, I really hope this impacted you and has helped you recognise some negative patterns in your life or the lives of people you care about. If you want to talk more about getting to know Jesus please contact me. I wrote some very brief thoughts on Forgiveness and some others on Hurting and Healing so please take a look into them. They might help too.

Part 1 – The Free Gift
Part 2 – Paying the Price
Part 3 – Unforgiveness
Part 4 – The Un-offended Heart

Hurting and Healing

Part 1

Part 2

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