We had worked together for months in the Counseling Room. Many tears were shed along the way, but new vistas gained as spiritual insights helped to steady her course. Then one day she walked into my office the color of ash. I could see the hurt and anger in her countenance as tears brimmed full. What do you do when faced with shattered dreams and the light of hope has suddenly been snuffed out? Be they your own broken dreams or someone else’s, the need is the same: a listening ear, that human connectedness of a hug or embrace, along with the words, “I’m sorry . . . .”
It is often said that, “Time heals all wounds.” While that may be true in part, it certainly is not true when it comes to ministering to the broken heart. Just as a broken bone needs to be set aright, wisdom and intentional care are needed to straighten and strengthen the broken mind and heart. In the Counseling Room I have ministered to many people crippled emotionally and spiritually by the still raw evidence of wounds left untended for years . . . even decades. I know of no better resource than the wisdom contained in the Scriptures that, when rightly applied, can open up light and hope like nothing else.
Hebrews 3:13 warns believers, to guard against letting the hardness of sin and doubt to fester in our hearts for even one more day:
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
True encouragement seeks not merely to placate or build up the ego; authentic encouragement speaks to straighten and strengthen what has been broken.
In my last post, I wrote about the Heartstrings Illustration—a very practical tool that helps identify the primary influence(s) we rely on to make decisions. As I watched and listened to my Client, I understood the pain she was in . . . but I also understood the danger of beginning to doubt the only One we can truly trust. To help stop the emotional and spiritual “bleeding” of a heart so broken and raw, she needed the wisdom of Scripture to help her assess who or what influence was tugging at her heartstrings.
We went to John 21–one of those special places in Scripture that I enjoy because it is so personal. It begins very early in the morning, with Peter and a few of the other disciples returning from a disappointing night of fishing. I asked her to begin reading the passage to me–I ask all of my Clients to read aloud to me so that was nothing new. As she read about how Jesus was waiting on the shore and the events that took place, her voice returned to a more regular tone. Occasionally, she stopped reading as we marveled at how simply, but powerfully Jesus ministered to the hearts of those men–by providing a miraculous catch of fish while already having prepared a meal that was waiting for them on the beach. We were touched, when Jesus took a walk with Peter (the disciple who denied knowing Jesus three times after He was arrested.) In the conversation that took place between them, Jesus challenged and commissioned Peter to, “Feed My sheep.”
The part that I hoped would most encourage and challenge my Client came in the final section when Jesus said:
“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger
you dressed yourself and went where you wanted;
but when you are old you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
The text goes on to explain:
Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death
by which Peter would glorify God.
Then He said to him, “Follow me!”
(verses 18 and 19)
Stunned by what Jesus said (in my mind I picture Peter blubbering to himself and extremely uncomfortable), Peter looked around and saw another disciple, John, was near to them. Peter asked Jesus the question many of us ask in such situations, “What about him?” Jesus’ response, simple and direct, serves as a needful reminder as to who is God, and who is decidedly NOT God:
“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?
You must follow Me.”
The room was quiet as we reflected on the text. It was then that I recognized a melding of wisdom and hope as color returned to her cheeks. Using the Heartstring Illustration to gain insight into what had just happened, she said,
“When I walked in here I was totally fixated on the pain of my situation–I had lost all hope.
In fact, I was angry at God for allowing my life to fall apart.
After reading Jesus’ answer to Peter, I was struck by my foolishness.
I knew immediately how off-course I truly was.
Nothing has changed . . . I still have no idea of the direction my life is going to take.
Even so, I am at peace–with God back in His rightful place in my heart.”
Time does not heal all wounds. But as we entrust ourselves to God (refusing the temptation to doubt in His Goodness), and rely on the Scriptures and His Spirit to help us, we discover the wondrous grace of His Peace. To move beyond brokenness is not something we can ever attain in our own strength, it is only possible as we rely on Him as our Resting Place.
All to His Glory!