We are often tempted to think in terms of formulas when it comes to healing. You can see it in all the self-help books out there: “7 steps to total enlightenment” and “How to avoid making any mistakes ever again.” I jest, but you get the point.
After a period of intense and prolonged lamentation, it can be a relief to find a formula that promises to heal us. It can feel a lot simpler for someone to just outline a healing plan for us in 5 easy steps, or to give us a deadline by which our healing is sure to be complete. That way we’ll know if our healing is on track or not.
This sounds fine until we remember that we’re all different and therefore our healing journeys are unique. The time required differs dramatically from person to person, and different kinds of pain may require different remedies. Even the way that God heals you may be vastly different to how He heals me. The way I healed last time may be radically different to what I need this time. How wonderfully varied and complex we are.
There are numerous things I have turned to over the years that have assisted me. Things that help me stop and re-connect with myself and things I value (such as music and writing) are central to the healing process. Stopping in order to re-connect with God also helps to remind me of who I am in Him.
We may feel that such things are unimportant in the grand scheme of things, however I would argue that the simple and even boring stuff can be the most healing. This is especially true of everyday things that really connect with us. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of giving time to these things that remind us of who we are deep down. Time spent on these is never wasted.
There are fun things too, things such as games, jokes and chocolate that may give us respite from the journey to healing. All of us need a break when we travel: time to get out of the car and stretch, time to sit down on a bench, time when we are not required to be “on”. I propose that the same is true for our mental, emotional and spiritual journeys of healing.
Support is valuable as part of the process. Having people who are available if we need them, who know and love us, can make a monumental difference. We may not always feel like talking and may not share all the details of our experiences, however support can help even when offered in silence. Often, the simple act of praying is all that is needed.
I have found the path to healing to be quite a complex one. It zigzags. It rollercoasters. Sometimes the sun lights our way; sometimes we cannot see our feet in front of us. We may see our destination clearly, or we may be stumbling blindly. Having company on the journey can ease some of the burden.
Like a mirror, we want our lives to reflect God’s glory. When we are in pain and in need of healing, we sometimes worry that our lives do not reflect Christ and that we cannot do anything worthwhile for God until we are healed. We can forget that in our suffering, we are probably most like Christ than at any other time. This is quite a counter-cultural idea: being open to experiencing pain. Most of us are in a hurry to move on from suffering. Perhaps we can take a page out of Jesus’ book.
Ultimately, God is the One who makes all things new. He is the One who has promised restoration, mercy and salvation. The Psalms remind us through the ups and downs of life that God is our refuge. Even in Lamentations, despite all the misery and heartache contained within its chapters, there is an echo of God’s faithfulness and compassion therein.
God never misses a trick. He doesn’t fall asleep on the job. He is alert to our situation and He knows our needs. He’s aware of our struggles and He’s collecting our tears. Perhaps at this very moment He is preparing something, lining up people and resources to meet the needs of His children. Hold on; His healing may yet be at hand.
In the meantime we know that we can run to Him. He may even use our suffering to reflect His Son Jesus more in our lives. Who knows how God will use our journeys to showcase His glory.
Next time: we conclude our series on lamentations.