In today’s show we take a deeper look at how our hearts have been wounded and what the path to healing looks like. Guided by Isaiah 61, we see how our wounding is linked to the particular ways that we find ourselves enslaved. I conclude by reflecting on what is involved in walking the path of healing. The bottom line is that you don’t have to wait until heaven for the healing of your wounds.

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The world we inhabit is not as it should be. I think that’s a rather uncontroversial statement.
In biblical language, we live in a world marred by sin.
And because of that, we have all been wounded by the sin of another.
Every person has been wounded.

I imagine that many of you agree that we live in a sinful world, a world of harm.
Q: But how many examples can you give of how the sinfulness of the world has marred you, how sin has cut into your heart?
Q: How has your heart been harmed by the sin of others?
Q: Where has the shrapnel of this world lodged in your body?

Many of you are quite willing to name your sin, your failures.
But sometimes it’s much harder to name the ways you have been sinned against.
Your heart has been injured. It has been wounded.
What I’d like to do today is to talk about the wound: what it is, why it matters, what can be done about it.

Curt Thompson is a Christian neuroscientist who has done a lot of work on understanding how our relationship with our parents affects our brains.
And he has a great way of getting at what I’m trying to say. He says,
“We can grow up in homes in which the food finds the table, the money finds the college funds, and the family even finds the church each Sunday; but somehow our hearts remain undiscovered by the two people we most need to know us—our parents.”

My heart was undiscovered by my parents.
My Dad was emotionally checked out. A young boy needs his father to step in and engage with him when something like this is happening.
If the father doesn’t, the boy’s broken heart gets scooped up and mashed back together in a way that doesn’t allow mending, and shapes his experiences for many years to come.
And I began carrying this broken, mashed together, but not-quite right heart.

God created each of us with a question deep in our guts—we are born with it—and it’s the question, “Does my father delight in me? Does my mother delight in me?”
We need to know in the center of our hearts that the two people who brought us into the world just delight in us.
It’s the sense of “You are a beloved son. You are a beloved daughter. I delight in you. I just adore you.”
The sense that Mom just loves being with me. Dad teaches me how to ride a bike or throw a curve ball—and he loves doing it because he loves me.
If the deepest part of your heart never got the message that your parents delighted in you—or if one did and the other didn’t—you carry a wound inside your heart.

Imagine you’re a young girl who is trying to survive middle school. And after a particularly hard day you are alone in your room and your Mom comes in.
You tell her a little bit about what happened between you and some other girls who were cruel and why you are so upset.
And your Mom looks at you and says, “honey, maybe you’re just too sensitive.” [pause]
Mom walks out of the room and sitting on your bed something whispers deep in your heart,
“You’re too much. Mom can’t handle you. Maybe no one can.” [slow]
That’s a wound. You don’t just recover from that with time.
Wounds can take the form of a rumor circulating in 7th grade or the failure of parents to delight in you or sexual abuse from a grandfather.
Some wounds cut deeper than others. But you don’t escape having your heart injured.

Now, why does the wound matter?
A simple sentence: Your wound is profoundly influencing how you are presently living your life. [repeat]

This is Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion.
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

When Isaiah says “he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…” he is making a linkage between being broken-hearted and becoming a captive.
Here’s the link:
When our heart is wounded and we pick up the pieces and mash them together, we begin living in a way that promises to relieve the wound and assures that we will never be hurt like that again.
And this way of living enslaves us.

A few months ago, I heard a man give a talk about one of his wounds.
When he was in 5th grade he was really overweight. He had a size 36 waist.
And he tried to compensate for this by becoming the class clown, and it worked a little bit… until one day when the whole class had to do pull-ups in Gym.
As he told the story his voiced cracked as he said,
“I couldn’t pull myself up. I just hung there. Utterly humiliated in front of the whole class.
As I hung there I thought to myself, ‘I am so weak. I am not a boy. And I will never be a man.’”

That night he went home and he decided that he was never going to be humiliated like that again.
He went for a run—four houses is all he could do. But for the next 2.5 years he didn’t miss a single day of running and he went down to a size 29 waist…
and he became quite anorexic and obsessive about exercise.
His wound led to captivity.

The progression is this: your heart is injured as a result of sin in the world and its specific effects in your life. And then you become captive to whatever ways you devise to bind up that heart as best you can to protect it from future injury.
This man was humiliated by his body and he became captive to living in such a way that he would never be humiliated by his body again.
Does he need to repent of that way of living? Sure, but he also needs healing.
He needs healing of the wound that began as he hung from that pull-up bar.
He needs to be set free from his captivity to obsessive exercise and hating his body and training it so that it will be strong enough to save him from any future humiliation.

We become captive to those things that promise to protect us from being wounded in the same way again.
The Bible calls this idolatry.
What Isaiah is saying is that your idolatry grows in the soil of your pain. It’s not random. Repeat.
There is a linkage between your captivity and how your heart has been broken. [pause]

Your wound is the reason you are hurting people right now – including yourself. Hurt people hurt people. And we’re all hurt.
You will continue to unconsciously hurt people until you address your core wounds. It’s inevitable.
There’s a reason you blow up at your wife when you do. It’s not random. It’s not that you were having a bad day.
No, something happened between the two of you that triggered one of your wounds and your body reacted in anger.

Okay, what can be done about this mess?
Each of us carries deep wounds in our hearts.
And, on top of that, we’ve become enslaved to living in ways that promise us we’ll never have to feel that pain again.
What a mess.
Centuries after Isaiah wrote this passage, a 30-year-old man named Jesus unrolled the scroll of Isaiah and read this passage in the synagogue and then said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled.”
Jesus was saying, “I’m the one that the Lord sent to bind up the broken-hearted and free the captives.”

The promise of Jesus to you today is the promise of healing.
Isaiah is announcing the good news—Jesus was sent to bind up your broken heart. To heal you. To free you.
The first step to healing is to realize that something can be done about your wounds. To realize that there is a Person with the power to heal you.
Psalm 147 says, “The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
You don’t have to wait until heaven for the healing of your wounds.
Isaiah is saying Jesus was sent for the purpose of healing your broken heart.
Q: Why did Jesus come to earth? What is God up to in the world?
It’s not forgiveness (though it starts there).
It’s not even salvation (though it includes that). It’s restoration!

In the last chapter of the Bible we see a picture of the new earth that God is creating and this is what it says—this is Revelation 22—
“the angel showed me the river of the water of life… on either side of the river was the tree of life. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Why healing? Because that’s what God is up to in the world—he’s healing broken hearts.

In order to begin to experience healing, you’ve got to name your wounds.
You have to stop running from them and confess what your heart knows—you have been harmed by others. And it hurt.
And you haven’t gotten over it. It’s not “in the past.”
Remember, Sin is a bigger problem than we think. When you’re sinned against, it doesn’t just go away. It has consequences in your heart. Will you name how you have been harmed?

When we refuse to name how our heart has been injured, we are living in denial.
Denial is not merely a defense mechanism: it is rebellion against God.
A denial of your wound is a denial of God. Because it is a denial of the harshness of the reality that God allowed you to experience.
Many people deny their wound—deny that it happened, deny that it hurt, certainly deny that it’s shaping the way they live today.

The dilemma with this is that when we bury our pain, we bury it alive.
It festers, it churns, it will not be ignored. It will crop up in sudden bursts of anger or sexual addictions or shutting down whenever you feel criticized.
The question is: Will you take your heartache, the wounds your heart has suffered and show them to Jesus? Will you expose your pain to Jesus’ compassion?
Have you invited Jesus into the injured places in your heart? Tune me out.

There are lots of obstacles to naming our wounds, but let me briefly address two.
One objection that may arise in your heart is, “There’s no point in looking at the past. It’s just gonna hurt and I can’t change what’s already happened.”

The claim of the gospel is that you can absolutely change what has already happened.
You can’t change the event, you can’t make the wound not happen.
But you can receive healing—which means that your brain can change. The way your brain remembers the event can absolutely change.
When God heals, your brain changes. Your brain cells, your neurons become rewired.
What the resurrection means in neurological terms is the rewiring of the cells that make up your brain.
IOW, you can change the past.

Another objection that arises is, “I don’t want to blame my parents.”
There is a difference between blaming and naming. This isn’t about blaming your parents, it’s about naming your wounds.
Let me put it this way: the person I harm the most is Caroline. But next to her, the two people I harm most are Hope and Eli, my children.
When they come to me in 20 years and say “Dad, here’s what it was like to live with you and here’s one of the ways you really wounded me…” that will be a holy moment. They’re not blaming me. They’re giving me the opportunity to participate in their healing by owning how I harmed them and saying I’m sorry.

Q: What do you do after you name your wounds? Well, it’s at the end of v. 2.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…
to comfort all who mourn and
to provide for those who grieve.
Healing takes place as we mourn, as we grieve. The way the broken heart mends is through grief.

Grieving requires not only that you name your wound, but that you enter into the wound emotionally. That you feel. That’s what mourning is.
It’s not enough to just cognitively name it.
You’ve got to feel. Feel the sorrow, feel the hurt, feel the betrayal, feel.
To grieve is to remember what happened… with your full self—your thoughts and your emotions.
It is calling the wound to mind, and then feeling the sorrow that comes up.

You have to honestly face up to feelings you buried years ago.
And it may take time. If you’ve pushed the sorrow down your whole life, it may take time.
But the key is entering into the story of the wound and hanging out there for a while. Staying with the feelings that come up.
And here’s the dilemma—many of us are constantly on the go.
If you are constantly moving, it is very hard to grieve and mourn because grieving requires being still and sitting with yourself.

Barbara Kingsolver wrote a novel called The Poisonwood Bible, and one of the characters has a lot of pain and she deals with it by staying busy. This is how she explains it. “As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer’s long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn’t touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn’t stop.”

As long as you keep moving, you can keep your pain at bay for a time… your grief will stream out behind you like a swimmer’s long hair in water.
You’ve got to stop to grieve.
Now, if you take the time to grieve, something beautiful happens.
You are met by Jesus. And comforted in your sorrow.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to comfort all who mourn and to provide for those who grieve.

Q: Provide what? Look at v. 3,
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
When you are faithful to enter grief, God provides beauty, joy, praise.

And did you catch that last line? A garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
The despair is gone.
Q: Why does the text talk about despair here? [pause]
Because God knows that when you name how your heart has been broken, when you dip down into grief, you experience despair.
The floor drops out from under your life and you feel like you’re falling through the earth. God knows that.

The floor once dropped out from under his life. And he fell through the earth… into the darkest depths.
Q: Why? Why did he do that? Well, a lot of reasons, but one of them is so that he could identify with you in your sorrow.
On the cross Jesus experienced the fullness of the sin that has been committed against you.
He felt your wound. He knows what you feel as you begin to engage the wounds in your heart. He felt it all on the cross. He sunk down into despair.
It’s stunning.
And it’s why he can actually comfort you. Because he knows—experientially—what you’re going through.

So, the progression is this:
You name your wound, you enter into all the feelings—sorrow, mourning, grieving—and then the miracle happens. You are comforted.
You are provided with beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair.

If you don’t acknowledge your broken heart—if you don’t name your wounds—you will continue to live in captivity AND YOU WILL MISS JESUS!
Jesus can lovingly remove all the layers of duct tape from your heart.
He wants to painstakingly stitch it back together and make it come alive again.

For help with engaging your story in a group setting, consider the Allender Center’s Certificate Program.

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