The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit – Psalm 34:17-19.
We often wish we could escape from troubles – the pain of grief, loss, sorrow and failure, or even the small daily frustrations that constantly wear us down. God promises to be “close to the broken hearted” and to be our source of power, courage and wisdom, helping us through our problems. Sometimes He chooses to deliver us from those problems. When trouble strikes, don’t get frustrated with God. Instead, admit that you need God’s help and thank Him for being by your side.
REFUGE FOR THE WOUNDED
People with wounded hearts can be found in all walks of life. They are the people we characterize as having “hit bottom” or “made a mistake” or “taken a wrong turn.” Their offense can range from the least to the greatest. Some experience marital separation or divorce; others lose their jobs or take a cut in pay; still others lie or cheat or get caught in an illegal or unholy act. Some are wounded not because of what they did personally, but because their circumstances changed and they got caught in the cross fire. They are hurt because they became entangled with the wrong set of acquaintances.
Do you know any people who have wounded hearts? The wounded are our spouses, our children, our neighbours, our friends, our ministers, our leaders. They are people at work, in our family, or in our church. Christ has the power to heal a wounded heart and put people back on their feet. And you and I can be the link to that power. There are ways that Christ can use us to restore the wounded.
BE A FRIEND
A friend has been described in many different ways. A friend knows all about us and loves us anyway. A friend steps in when the whole world steps out. A friend is one who never gets in the way, except when we are on our way down. Once a group of teenagers were asked to define friendship. One of the students wrote, “Friendship is knowing there will always be someone around to lift you up when all others let you down.” But many wounded people do not try to work out problems with friends. They distance themselves from others. These faltering individuals are in need of love, acceptance, encouragement, and help, but instead they withdraw. This should not be allowed to continue, it is during those times that they truly need the support and affirmation of friends.
What do friends do? Friends refresh the wounded. They come alongside the hurting individual to offer support and encouragement. They help the struggler by assisting and comforting. They lighten the load of burden and pain. They bring refreshment like a cold glass of water on a hot day.
BE A FORGIVER
We humans have a great ability to recall old injustices, dredge up insignificant slights, and reopen old wounds. We tend to be unforgiving and unforgetting. One would think that Christians would be different, a kinder and gentler tribe. One would think we would be a people who, having experienced the grace and mercy of God, now pass that forgiveness on to others. But often that is not the case, the reality is often summed up in the poignant statement “Christianity is the only army that shoots its wounded.”
The Gospel is the Good News of the second chance. Those with wounded hearts can start over and have a new beginning. Jonah disobeyed God and hit out on his own, and he was given another chance. Peter denied Jesus and was later reinstated for service in the Master’s business. Paul attacked and persecuted the Christian community, and he was granted a new lease on life to share the love of Christ.
BE A FUTURE-GIVER
For those of us who want to bring healing to wounded hearts, we touch their future by giving them a hope of a new tomorrow. We restore their dignity by acknowledging their importance.
The New Testament provides a powerful example in Philemon. Onesimus was a runaway slave owned by Philemon, a leader in a church. Onesimus came into the company of Paul and was converted to Christ. Paul sent Onesimus back to his owner, Philemon, and appealed for the forgiveness of Onesimus. Philemon had Ones Imus’s future in his hands. It is interesting to note that the name Onesimus means “useful.” Paul played on that name by saying, Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me” (Philem. 11). Paul knew that Onesimus had a great future. But that future was dependent on Philemon’s action. By law he could have him executed. Or as a believer he could restore him to an exalted place of brotherhood and service. What did Philemon do? It would be nice if there were a postscript on this letter to indicate Philemon’s decision, but there is none. However, a church father named Ignatius, writing fifty years later in a letter to the Ephesians, addressed their wonderful minister, their bishop. His name? Onesimus. In this letter Ignatius referred to Onesimus as the one “who formerly was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.” This could have been the same man – a former slave now a bishop.
What does a future-giver do? A future-giver restores one’s spirit. Paul wrote to the Galatians, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Gal. 6:1). The word “restore” was used to describe the mending of fishermen’s nets. Thus it conveys the idea of putting people back into workable and useful shape. That is what Jesus did for the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, and the man with the withered hand. That is what Jesus has done for us who are believers. Restoring the spirit of individuals can do marvelous things for their future. When Thomas Edison and his team were improving the first light bulb, he handed a finished bulb to a young helper, who nervously carried it upstairs step by step to the vacuum machine. At the last step, the boy dropped the bulb, shattering it into a thousand pieces. Consequently, the whole team had to work another twenty-four hours to make another bulb. When Edison looked around for someone to carry the new bulb upstairs, he gave it to the same boy. The gesture probably changed the boy’s life, Edison knew that more than a bulb was at stake.
Nurture with gentleness.
Another thing we can do for those who are hurting is nurture and encourage them with God’s gentleness. Gentleness builds up and affirms. It does not minimize the situation. Practically, you can reflect God’s nurture in a very real way by becoming what I call a “prayer listener.” Let’s provide a refuge where that person can share his or her feelings with safety and security, not worried about what you might think or say. While listening, let’s be in a continual state of prayer. Use what is said as a foundation for specific prayers.
Scripture is clear about prayer’s healing nature. James 5:15 says, “The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up.”
Never Forget: God Is the Healer
The story of Elijah’s encouragement is a testament that despite painful struggles, God heals people, enabling them to move forward with life and eventually become healthy again. What’s more, you don’t have to be a professional therapist to meet them at their lowest points. No matter what people are going through, with time and persistence on your part, you can play a significant role in their physical and spiritual healing.
Do you know a wounded heart? Do you know a wounded heart? You may be able to turn the wounded people around by offering friendship, forgiveness, and a hope-filled future.
Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. – Proverbs 4:14-17
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