In his engaging style, the author provides guidance for those times in life when you need “healing where it hurts.” Drawing upon the Bible and stories of faith and hope from everyday experience, he tells how the healing power of love can bring healing and wholeness . . .
· when life breaks your heart
· when you are fighting a virus in your soul
· when you are heading for a breakdown
· when your faith lands you on the critical list, or
· when other stress fractures threaten to immobilize your spirit
|Publisher:||Dimensions for Living|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.45(d)|
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Healing Where It Hurts
By JAMES W. MOORE
Dimensions for LivingCopyright © 2008 Dimensions for Living
All rights reserved.
When Life Breaks Your Heart
* * *
2 Corinthians 4:7- 9: But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
Job 13: 15a KJV: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.
A few years ago, on one of the Monday Night Football telecasts, the sportscasters were discussing the great running backs of professional football history. When they came to Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears, they pointed out that he was (at that time) the all-time leading ground gainer in the National Football League.
Then Frank Gifford said, "What a runner! Do you realize that all together, Walter Payton gained more than nine miles rushing in his career? Just imagine that—more than nine miles!"
To which the other sportscaster, Dan Dierdorf, responded, "And to think that every 4.6 yards of the way, someone was knocking him down!"
Well, it happens not just in professional football. It's true also in life. We do get knocked down a lot. The truth is that every now and then, life will break our hearts! And the question is, How do we respond to that? How do we handle the defeats, the problems, the burdens, the knockdowns, the heartaches, the broken dreams?
The job you wanted and didn't get, the raise you needed that didn't materialize, the promotion that never came, the romance that fizzled and left you out in the cold, the business that looked so promising and then fell through, the child who got into trouble, the strained relationship with another person, the vicious gossip behind your back, the heart-wrenching problem in your marriage or family, the promising young man or woman who went off to fight a war in a foreign land and never came back, the accident that happened in the blink of an eye and changed your life forever, the dreaded news that you have a terminal illness—sickness, loneliness, financial problems, the death of a loved one, and I could go on and on—how do we handle all these problems?
There is no doubt about it—the broken heart is a real part of life. And as Christian people, the question we need to ask is not where did this heartache come from, but where does it lead? That is the question, and that is what the apostle Paul is underscoring in 2 Corinthians when he expresses those powerful words of Christian faith and hope. He says that we "are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed," because "we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also" and bring us into his presence. "So we do not lose heart." We are always of good courage.
Dealing with heartache and disappointment and suffering—that's also what the book of Job is about. Job was the wealthiest, the most influential, the most moral man in all the land. He was righteous, virtuous, a faithful servant of God. Job was a good man, one of the best. But then all of a sudden, tragedy struck. Suffering came upon Job in three distinct blows. First, he was stripped of his wealth. Then his children were destroyed. And third, he was afflicted with a painful disease.
Notice that all the problems we usually connect with tragedy had been put upon Job. Financial ruin; the grievous death of his children; a terrible, painful, debilitating illness—not to mention the whisperings of the neighbors about what horrible sins Job must have committed to bring the wrath of God down on him in such harsh fashion.
Of course we know that the neighbors were wrong. The suffering didn't come from God at all. It's helpful to remember what the psalmist said about this. He did not say, "My pain comes from the Lord" or "My tragedy comes from the Lord." No! He said, "My help comes from the Lord." The book of Job was written to show that God is not the source of our pain. Rather, God is the source of our strength and comfort.
But Job's neighbors didn't know that, so they whispered and gossiped and pointed their fingers. And Job had to live with the false accusations, the pain, the grief, the tragedy, the heartache.
What could Job do in that tragic situation? What can any of us do when suffering comes? It seems to me that there are three possible responses to trouble. Poetically speaking, we might put it like this: When life breaks our hearts, we have three choices:
We can break down in self-pity;
We can break out with resentment;
Or we can break through with trust.
Let's take a look at these three possibilities.
We Can Break Down in Self-pity
We can just feel sorry for ourselves. We can throw in the towel and quit on life, and spend the rest of our days crying, "Woe is me!" Sadly, some people do just that. They choose the way of self-pity.
I could take you to the home of a woman I know who has chosen this option. She spends all day, every day, in the valley of self-pity. She gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night feeling sorry for herself. If I took you to see her, she would tell you in vivid detail all about her terrible plight. She would tell you about all the people who have done her wrong and all the problems life has thrust upon her—and she has quite a list.
Her mind operates now almost solely in the realm of self-pity, and that is so tragic! She has had some heartbreaking troubles, but haven't we all? Isn't it interesting to notice that, as much as we dread tragedy and sorrow and suffering, we admire tremendously those who handle it well, those who refuse to give in to self-pity. In Keeping First Things First, John Gile warns us:
Look out for self-pity. It is one of the most overlooked, powerful, devastating, clever, insidious forms of evil — because it is not recognized as evil. It gets past our guard, distorts reality.... Self-pity takes away our sense of humor, shuts down communication, and stifles our creative powers. It makes us concentrate on ourselves, miss the good we could be doing for others, and blocks out the voice of God. Letting all that happen to us is what makes self-pity so pitiful.
But this is indeed one option open to us, isn't it? We can choose this sad and pitiful way. When life breaks our hearts, we can break down in self-pity. I pray that we won't, but that is one possibility. Now look at another option.
We Can Break Out with Resentment
That's what Job's wife told him to do. "Just curse God and die," she said to him. Sadly, some people do indeed choose this way of resentment. They brood and seethe, and become more and more bitter with every passing day. There is no joy in their life, no hope, no gladness, only anger and hostility.
I could take you to the home of a man I know who lives almost exclusively now in the valley of resentment. He gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night mad at life. If I took you to see him today, as soon as he saw us, he would begin to give us the long list of his grievances. He is mad at the president. He is mad at the governor. He is mad at the mayor. He is mad at the church. He is mad at his neighbors and his in-laws. He is mad at everyone he meets. He's mad at the world. People dread to see him coming because he is so bitter and hostile and cynical—and that is so tragic!
He has not always been that way. I remember when he was a lot of fun, when he was creative and productive and happy. But no more. Now resentment is the controlling force in his life. He has had some major problems. He has had some bad things happen to him. He has experienced tragedy and suffering, to be sure, but haven't we all?
Please pay close attention for just a moment. This is so important! It is so important to realize that there is nothing in the world more devastating to your soul, nothing more debilitating to your spiritual life, than resentment! We need to avoid it like the plague!
But here again, it's an option open to us. I pray that we won't choose this sad and pitiful way when life knocks us down. But it is a choice we have. When life breaks our hearts, we can break down in self-pity or we can break out with resentment. Thank God there is another choice. We don't have to give in to self-pity or resentment. There is another option, a better way. When life breaks our hearts, there is a third choice.
We Can Break Through with Trust
This is the path Job ultimately took. Now, in all honesty, if you read the book carefully, you will see that Job did some of all three things. There's some self-pity there, and some resentment, too. They are there, but most of all, there is trust! He breaks through with trust! He says it so powerfully in chapter 13: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (13:15 KJV).
Some years ago, William Barclay faced a great tragedy. His twenty-one-year-old daughter and her fiancé were both drowned in a tragic yachting accident. Just a few weeks before they were to be married, they were both killed.
Later, in his Spiritual Autobiography, Barclay wrote, "God did not stop that accident at sea, but He did still the storm in my own heart, so that somehow my wife and I came through that terrible time still on our own two feet." He continued, "The day my daughter was lost at sea, there was sorrow in the heart of God." Then he added this:
When things like that happen, there are just three things to be said. First, to understand them is impossible. Second, Jesus does not offer us solutions to them. What he does offer us is his strength and help somehow to accept what we cannot understand. Third, the one fatal reaction is the bitter resentment which forever after meets life with a chip on the shoulder and a grudge against God. The one saving reaction is simply to go on living, to go on working, and to find in the presence of Jesus Christ the strength and courage to meet life with steady eyes. (45-46)
When we know that God is with us, nothing—not even death—can separate us from God and his love.
That's the good news of our faith—that as we accept God into our lives and commit our lives to him, nothing can separate us from God and his love and watchful care. No illness, no suffering, no misfortune, no disappointment, no tragedy—nothing, not even death, can cut us off from God's love. That's a good thing to know, a good thing to remember when heartache comes.
But here's the point. When life breaks our hearts, we have a decision to make. The choice is ours—we can break down in self-pity, we can break out with resentment, or, thank God, we can break through with trust.CHAPTER 2
When the Ligaments of Love Are Strained
* * *
Colossians 3: 14: Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
When studying the Scriptures, it is sometimes quite helpful and revealing to be able to go back and read the text in its original language. Often a word carries a meaning in the original that we can easily miss in our modern-day translations. For example, take the word repent. Many people would say that the word means "to feel sorry for our sins."
But the original Hebrew word in the Old Testament conveys a much deeper meaning. The original Hebrew word was hashivenu, and it does mean "to feel sorry for your sins," but it also was the word used in the military for the command "About face!" It means "turn around"; "don't go that way anymore"; "come back this way": "About face!"
The point is clear: To repent is to do more than just feel sorry for your sins. It means that you are so sorry for your sins that you want God to turn your whole life around. It means you've been going in the wrong direction and you want to change your ways. That's what repent means— hashivenu! About face! Turn around! Change your ways! Be born again!
Another example is found in the word love. In English, we only have one word to express that "many splendored thing," but the original Greek of the New Testament had many different and colorful words for love:
Eros, which gives us our word erotic, was their word for sensual love.
Philia, which gives us our word philanthropy, was their word for charitable, humanitarian love.
Storgé was their word for family love.
And agapé was their word for unconditional, sacrificial, self-giving love.
Now, the word agapé is a tremendously valuable word for us because it tells us so much about God. Agapé is the word used in the New Testament for God's love. The message is clear: God's love is unconditional, sacrificial, self-giving love. That's the way God loves us, and that's the way God wants us to love one another.
Still another example of the way the original words can be so helpful and revealing is found in the word time. The original Greek New Testament manuscripts used two completely different words for time—chronos and kairos. Chronos, which gives us our word chronology, is tick-tock time. It's empty time—humdrum, meaningless, boring, uneventful time—time measured by the ticking of the clock. Each second is exactly like the one that went before it and the one that will follow it. Chronos is drudgery time.
But thank God there is another kind of time. The Greeks called it kairos. Kairos time represents those rich, extra-special, dramatic moments when God breaks into our lives and reveals truth so powerfully that time seems to stand still—those crucial moments when God speaks loud and clear—and we are so wonderfully touched by the impact of that "kairos moment" that our lives are changed forever.
Now, notice that when Jesus came into Galilee preaching, he said, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand." The word there in the Gospel of Mark is not chronos. It is kairos, because it was special time, crucial time, meaningful time, decisive time, God's time. No question about it—we can learn so much from these key words in the original languages of the Bible.
Recently I made a new discovery with regard to this that I found quite helpful. I was studying this magnificent passage from Colossians 3 in my Greek New Testament when I suddenly noticed something that somehow I had never seen before.
It has to do with the word binds. Paul says to the Colossians, and indeed to us: "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (3:14). Love binds all things together.
Now, here's what I noticed. The word binds, in the original Greek, is sundesmos. Sundesmos is also the word the Greeks used for ligaments. This is a tremendously important insight, especially when we couple it with the fact that Paul called the church the Body of Christ. The ligaments in the Body of Christ are made of love! Now, if you know anything at all about the human body, you know how important ligaments are:
ligaments hold the body together;
ligaments enable the body parts to work;
ligaments give the body its ability to move and function;
ligaments give power, direction, unity, coordination, and grace.
If you strain or tear or injure the ligaments, the body can't work right. Let me paraphrase Paul: "Above everything else, put on love because love 'ligaments' everything together in perfect harmony."
As I was studying this passage, my mind flashed back to my younger days when I was an athlete. And I remembered some of the injuries I sustained in sports:
a sprained ankle playing football;
a fractured foot playing basketball;
a cleated leg playing baseball;
a black eye playing soccer.
Excerpted from Healing Where It Hurts by JAMES W. MOORE. Copyright © 2008 Dimensions for Living. Excerpted by permission of Dimensions for Living.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: Healing Where It Hurts,
1. When Life Breaks Your Heart,
2. When the Ligaments of Love Are Strained,
3. When You Are Fighting a Virus in Your Soul,
4. When You Are Heading for a Breakdown,
5. When You Need a Life-changing Moment,
6. When You Are Dealing with Stress,
7. When You Must Face a Giant,
8. When You Feel Inadequate,
9. When You Have Swallowed Spiritual Poison,
10. When Someone You Love Dies,
11. When You Feel Afraid, Confused, Overwhelmed,
12. When You or Someone You Love Faces a Drug Problem,
13. When You're So Tired You Want to Give Up,
14. When Your Faith Lands on the Critical List,
15. When a Healing Word Is Needed,
16. The Healing Power of Love,
Suggestions for Leading a Study of Healing Where It Hurts,