EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL
Devon A. Blackwood
(The following article is an excerpt from the book PLANTED BY
WATER: DEEPENING YOUR SPIRITUAL CONNECTEDNESS TO GOD)
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have
put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end
that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my
God, I will give thanks to You forever." Psalm 30:11-12 NKJV
Uh-oh. What was that sound? There - that one. There it goes
again. If you've ever owned a car, you know the scenario.
Something's wrong. You can't really tell what's going on
underneath the hood, but you know someone who can. Time to call
Almost as common today are computer problems. Computers are
not just plagued with mechanical problems anymore; they get
viruses, and malicious spies that cause all sorts of havoc. Some
you can fix, but for others, you give up and call your
neighborhood computer geek. He'll know what to do. [switcher over
to Apple - problem free - ahahah :-) Keith Hunt]
There are people to help if we get sick too. No matter what
the illness is, we can usually find a specialist: a psychiatrist
to treat depression, an internist to treat hypertension, a
dermatologist to treat a skin rash. We seek out specialists
because they are experts, and experts know what to do.
But some problems are too big, or too broad, for
specialists. Perhaps it's an illness that has gotten out of hand,
and affected many parts of your body. It has strained your family
to the breaking point, and stretched your finances, and since you
can't afford to pay for anything non-essential, your mechanical
conveniences are breaking down. You're always depressed, and you
find it hard to function at work (when you are even able to make
it in). No single specialist can help you now.
Except for the One who specializes in everything.
The greatest physician, Jesus, is the only one who can truly
rid us of every disorder that ails us, whether physical,
spiritual, or emotional. He understands every facet of the
physical pain or emotional anguish humans encounter.
If we are honest enough to admit it, we all have pain. At
one time or another, we have all cried inside. Sometimes we cry
over past wounds, offenses, or hurts that linger in our memories
no matter how much we want them to go away. These past pains,
though we may try to keep them hidden, somehow make themselves
known. People who are close to us can see that something is
gravely wrong inside, because on the outside, they see
insecurity, self-pity, or outright hostility. We might well
become cynical, angry, or stagnant, in our relationships with
others and with God. These pent-up feelings fester like an
infection, and prevent us from growth and maturity in the Word.
They mar our relationship with God.
For this reason (and many other reasons) the long road to
healing is worth it - finding it means freedon, the freedom of
fear, and security in relationships.
Most of us don't plan to hang on to past hurts, and when we
replay them over and over in our minds, it's not something we
want to do, exactly. Or perhaps we bury them down deep, thinking
they'll stay out of our way, especially if we are trusting in God
for everything. But most Christians find that unless they face up
to the memories that are eating away at them, they can't ever be
truly free. All the old feelings can come back in a moment if
someone at church says the wrong thing, or treats us in a way
that reminds us of the thing we are trying to forget.
I'm not talking about unintentional hurts that are usually
easily forgiven and quickly forgotten by the mature Christian.
I'm talking about deliberate mistreatment; physical, mental, or
sexual abuse; infidelity or abandonment; alcohol or drug
addiction; domestic violence, betrayal, sustained grief
reactions, and broken relationships or homes. Old wounds open
easily because they were never properly cleaned and sutured and
allowed to heal.
At one time or another, we have all cried inside.
When someone hurts in the church because of wounds he might
have encountered at one time or another, the quick tendency is to
offer a cliche: "Just pray about it," or "Trust the Lord," or
"Just forgive." But there's no time for process. No time to talk.
No time to cry. No time to be understood. Am I saying that folks
should live in their past and not look toward the future?
No. I'm suggesting that for scars to heal, a good specialist
who knows the ins and outs of that particular surgical wound must
examine them. And when that occurs, he can recommend the
appropriate prescription for the patient.
When we live with feelings of despair, hopelessness, or
obsession, we can grow so accustomed to them that we take them
for the norm. Our view of life becomes more and more negative,
and our faith in God fades. And holding on to issues that we
should let go, is just as destructive. Offenses, big or small,
will come along in our walk with God, and if we hang on to them,
they can build up and become a great mountain. All that
negativity can dull our sensitivity toward - and hunger for -
things of the Spirit. Instead, we feed emotions like hate, guilt,
resentment, and intolerance. We begin to distance ourselves
from God, fellow church members, and even our friends.
Confronting hurt or trauma head on will help us avoid being
bogged down with emotional baggage.
It is extremely difficult to worship and live righteously
before God when we are emotionally distraught. To move beyond all
of this, it is critical that we recognize the signs and symptoms
of our disorder, and realize they are there to alert us to a
deeper problem. It would be silly to decide to just get used to
high blood sugar or learn to live with a loud noise coming from a
car engine. Such signs are not there to ignore. It is the same
thing with signs of a hurting heart. Sooner or later the pain
will intensify to the point where it erupts into something
Someone who is suffering from emotional hurt might seclude
themselves from their family or friends, get depressed or angry,
develop bitterness, or simply struggle with feelings of guilt or
shame. Searching for the right remedy from the right person is
one solution on the path to healing-and that is found in Jesus.
Only He can suture broken hearts and bind up old wounds.
Our physical heart works right around the clock to keep our
blood flowing. This faithful organ pumps blood back and forth to
our various chambers, valves, arteries, and throughout our body
to keep us alive. But our heart will not work right if debris or
saturated fat or too much salt has clogged it up. Pretty soon we
put ourselves at imminent risks for cardiovascular diseases and
heart attacks. When things pile up on our heart it affects our
entire health and our overall lifestyle. We have no choice then
but to agree to surgical procedures to repair the damage we have
Similarly, when the emomotional part of us is clogged up or
bogged down with debris, we need to have surgery done. But the
only way to have a successful outcome and ultimately a good
prognosis, is if we wholeheartedly surrender to Almighty God and
let Him, the Great Physician, guide us into healing. Satan, being
the dissenter that he is, will tempt us to get off track and be
pessimistic about God's ability to release us. We must stay
focused on healing, for when we are emotionally well, our soul
prospers and we are more likely to be spiritually well too.
Grab hold of this truth: When Jesus Christ went to the cross to
wash away our sins, He gave us power over the burdens and chaos
of the past. If we have convinced ourselves that healing is
impossible, we need to make a 180-degree turn. That kind of
thinking, when we have God to depend on, is irrational.
When a believer in Christ walks around saying, "I'm still
not healed," it is a sign that he needs to be connected more
deeply to God. We must be willing to let God take us into
When my father died at home on May 26, 2004, it was a very
trying time for my family. Almost a year later, the finality of
his death has sunk in, but it is still taking time to ease the
mental pain about the physical suffering he went through. He was
a strong man who faced sickness and death courageously (ever
trusting in his Maker). He knew he was in God's hands, and so do
we. But those of us who are left behind still grieve his loss.
How do we deal with that?
Because we are confident that God understands these kinds of
situations, we turn to Him. My family receives new strength with
each passing day, and we know that it's just a matter of time
until our emotional pain is completely healed. Almost everyone
can relate to the loss of a loved one, because death is an
inevitable part of human existence. But its familiarity doesn't
spare us from painful emotions when it happens. These painful
emotions are normal, too; they work to draw us to the Lord who
suffered for our sakes and stands ready to walk with usor even
carry us, if we are too weak to stand. Above all, we must
recognize that God is in control, and that there is nothing we
face on earth that He won't help us get through.
Things That Hinder, Things That Help
The decision to open up your heart so that old wounds can be
properly cleaned and closed is a big one, but it is one that the
child of God must embrace. We can move more surely along the path
to healing if we know what will hinder us, and what will help us.
For healing to come, we must want healing.
To only talk about the hurt inside and not be willing to
risk some pain as the healing process begins, can make the whole
thing stall before it starts. Remember that going after something
you really want is worth the work it takes. It might be painful
at first but it's all a part of the healing process.
Healing requires action steps and takes time.
A surgical wound does not heal overnight, nor does it heal
by itself. But over a period of days or weeks, and with the right
kind of attention, it does happen. Mental or spiritual healing
takes time and attention as well. If you are heartbroken and
truly want to be healed, take action steps: Pray often, forgive
those who hurt you, trust the Lord, communicate with those who
love you, and be willing to seek therapy if you need to.
Make progress and recognize it.
When you close up old wounds, it is time to let resentments
die and shift your focus toward the future. Make a choice to walk
in faith and fulfill the purpose that God has revealed to you,
excelling in your spiritual calling, helping others grow. It is
not a time to sit back and mope about the past, because when you
do that you resume stagnation all over again. Look for friends
who help you move forward. Avoid the ones who try to dredge up
Healing is impossible without forgiveness.
In the next chapter, we will read more about forgiveness,
but here I will say that forgiveness is the root of healing.
Forgiveness is worth embracing so you can find prosperity and
health for your soul. And even when your offender might not care
too much about forgiveness, it's worth pursuing. In order to find
true closure and move serenely into the future, genuine
forgiveness must occur.
Prayer helps healing.
Ask God to free you from frustration or hurt, but be sure
you really mean it. Make sure you are willing to let Him work in
your life however He chooses. People who ask God to help them be
patient often find themselves having to practice patience in all
sorts of trying circumstances... but they learn what they asked
Ignoring hurt or staying in denial about it is unhealthy.
Like a bad case of the flu where a certain brand of cough syrup
or antibiotics prescribed by a doctor might be necessary to clear
it up, it's the same thing when hurt is deeply rooted inside. You
can't get treated if you don't admit that you have a problem.
Calling on God for help is often the first step toward being
aware and admitting to whatever is distressing you.
Reject cynicism. Break down walls.
When others reach out to you in gracious understanding of
what you are going through, don't dismiss their gesture as some
thing that can't possibly help. When people who might have harmed
you cry out or make an effort to make amends, extend your own
hand to touch theirs. Ignore the voice of Satan. He only wants to
discourage you. Listen instead for the voice of God, directing
you in the right path.
Learn to trust.
No, you can't trust everybody. However, with wisdom and
reliance upon God, you will know how to discriminate between
those with good intentions and those with not-so-good intentions.
Learning to trust involves relying more and more on God to direct
your friendships and relationships.
We are often too eager to identify character defects or
weaknesses in others, or talk only about the wrongs that they
have done to us, but decidedly unwilling to examine our own
hearts. Sometimes, we might have manipulated others in the same
ways. Being humble enough to recognize our own weaknesses when we
err or offend others will help map out the road to healing. In a
nutshell, if we are kind and compassionate towards others,
they'll probably find it easier to be the same towards us when we
need to find closure.
Words from the Fountain
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world
gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither
let it be afraid." John 14:27 NKJV
Deepening Your Connection Through Healing
Read from the Old and New Testament passages of Scripture that
give examples of emotional pain or wounds to see how others bore
them. Then prayerfully seek God's guidance to help you learn to
do the same.
Buy or borrow self-help books that deal specifically with past
hurt or inward pain.
During your daily prayer or meditation, remember to ask God to
forgive people who might have mistreated you, and be willing to
embrace them when they ask you for forgiveness.
Make good use of therapeutic services if you feel you need them,
for example, counseling (can be Christian based or clinical),
self-help groups, and so on.
Keep a diary or journal to register your progress, feelings, and
Watch how you spend your time. Do the things you do help you find
emotional wholeness, keep you physically healthy, and help you
grow spiritually? Find some enriching hobbies that are wholesome
and productive, not just entertaining.
Devon A. Blackwood is the author of the book Planted By Water
Deepening Your Spiritual Connectedness to God, which may be
ordered through the publisher at www coldtreepress com. He and
his wife RoseMane are members of the Shiloh Church of God 7th day
in Baltimore, Maryland.
Entered on this Website Febuary 2007