Week 3: Biblical Grit – A Time to Heal
“Hello, my name is (Name) and I am a sinner.”
Have you ever wondered why addicts identify themselves by their addiction? The road to recovery begins with acknowledging our secrets and weaknesses. Admitting our weakness takes away our secrets’ power.
What issues are on my list of hurts? Am I an alcoholic or addict? Am I a cancer, rape, abuse or divorce survivor? Am I a victim? Or a bully? Do I struggle with the truth? Do I gossip? Do I wrestle with anger? Am I in an abusive or dysfunctional relationship? Am I abusive? Is my body disappointing me? Have I been plagued with diabetes, mental illness or a chronic illness? Do my children, spouse, family or friends disappoint me? Who else has been hurt by these issues and where am I in the healing process?
Do I have support? Am I a good helper?
- Discuss how you react to a crisis. What problem, challenge or condition made your life unmanageable? Are you happy with the way you react? Why are you attending a bible study about overcoming challenges?
Acceptance is the first step of recovery. Acceptance doesn’t mean we celebrate bad things, declare them good or believe we can handle them. It simply means we accept the truth, whatever that truth is. Acceptance acknowledges we are powerless over things beyond our control and ready to shed our secrets. We are ready to heal.
Denial, anger, bargaining and depression are all part of the journey to acceptance (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD). Identifying ourselves by our weaknesses reminds us how fragile and precious we are. It keeps us from slipping back into denial.
- List and discuss bad things out of your control.
Cancer, illness, abuse, addictions, death, poverty, natural disasters and other people are all out of our control.
By admitting we are powerless over the hurts that make our lives unmanageable, we stop pretending we are strong enough or able to heal ourselves. We put our burdens down, cry out for help and rest while we wait for our rescuer.
Read Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
God is always there to listen to our pleas. God hears our cries.
Read Psalm 55:17
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and God hears my voice.
Admitting our weaknesses invites Jesus to join us in our suffering. Recovery begins when we give up, call out for help and embrace our savior.
Accepting things we can’t change allows peace from a waterfall of grace.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
~ Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Turn to your neighbor and introduce yourself and discuss how it feels to admit your hurts.
“Hello, my name is (Name). I am powerless over my hurts. I admit I am weak. I am tired of pretending. I need help.”
Read 1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Read Matthew 19:26
Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.”
- Describe a healing relationship. List and discuss comforting advice and help.
A healing relationship provides support, listens to our hurts, relieves our burdens and gives us strength. It may not heal us but it lightens our burden and provides hope.
Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 The Value of a Friend
Two are better than one. They are more productive. If they fall, one will lift up the other; but the one who is alone and falls, does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. And with God our relationships are not easily broken.
Unfortunately, most of us keep going to the same dried up wells for help and support:
- Advice Masters: Lots of suggestions. “Maybe you should try…” No help!
- The Fan: Lots of compliments. “You can handle it!” “You’re strong.” No HELP!
- Exploder: Goes ballistic. “It’s not fair! I’m so angry for you.” No Help!
- Blamer: “You made your bed now lie in it.” No help.
- Helpless: Feels too inadequate to help. Can’t help.
I’m sure we can all come up with more. And if we are honest, we may play these roles deliberately or subconsciously.
We also may find ourselves glad when we find out someone else is hurting because everyone doesn’t get their fair share of adversity. And we are grateful to know we’re not alone.
People say foolish painful unhelpful things because they don’t know what to say. They don’t want to be hurtful.
People who don’t adjust well model the same ineffective techniques they learned in bad situations. The ones who disappear learned to run away or seek shelter in a crisis. They may believe time heals all wounds and are waiting for you to magically heal. While time does heal, it isn’t the cure for all wounds.
And people who make everything worse are also doing what they think you need or want. They want to help but don’t know how.
Rarely do we suffer alone. Adversity strikes families and groups. It may be difficult to help each other during a crisis. Personalities clash as one may try to pull everyone up while others need more time to sit in the dust. Conflict is common during crisis. Without intervention we may grow together or apart.
Recovery includes forgiving others for their failures. Forgiveness heals. It doesn’t make what they said or did right. It simply acknowledges we all have weaknesses.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
None of us would seek a team of cheerleaders to fix our car. We would seek a mechanic. So let’s seek professionals for our other hurts.
The number one expert in suffering is Jesus.
Jesus suffered. Jesus was born poor, out-of-wedlock in a barn. He wasn’t attractive, popular or wealthy. Jesus was bullied, beaten and crucified. He lost friends and loved ones to death. Jesus understands our pain. Jesus weeps for us. Jesus meets us in our suffering.
God knows our hurts. God was there when we were hurt. God followed us into our darkest moments. God stayed with us and is still with us. Confessing our hurts to God is simply acknowledging God was there when we were hurt.
We weren’t alone when we were hurt, we’re not alone now and we will never be alone in the future. God promises to always be with us.
- Say out loud together Mark 1:11 to remind yourself of God’s love for each of us. Discuss how it feels. God says to each of us
“(Name)_ you are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11
Communication is a key ingredient in a healing relationship. Healing begins with prayer. Talk to God about your hurts.
Read Matthew 7:7
[Effective Prayer] “Keep asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will open for you”.
Every misfortune has a psychological and spiritual impact. Our emotions alter our body’s ability to heal. We rarely have control over our emotions or how we will react to stress. We need help. We need psychological and spiritual helpers on our team.
- Discuss why church people are afraid to share their hurts and seek help.
Chronic pain and other physical illness sufferers are reluctant to seek psychological help because they fear seeking psychological help affirms the accusation they have a mental illness and not a “real” illness. They are afraid their affliction is not treated or respected as a “real” illness.
This attitude unfortunately perpetuates the faulty belief that mental illness is less traumatic, painful, harmful and real than having a cold, cancer or any other physical hurt. The “it’s all in your head” attitude also implies that people with mental illnesses have control over their illness and can heal themselves. Also not true, not biblical and not scientifically supported.
Family members often refuse to seek mental health support because they don’t believe they have a problem. They have the faulty belief that they don’t need help. They fail to recognize the psychological and emotional toll their family member’s illness has on their health. They also have the faulty belief that their life will suddenly become manageable if they could just get their family member into treatment. They become so focused on other people’s problems, they lose sight of their own. And how their issues may hurt others.
Read Matthew 7:3
“Why do you worry about the speck in your friend’s eye and not the log in your own?”
God knows we can’t handle it alone and God doesn’t want us to handle it alone. God wants us to cry out for help. We shouldn’t be ashamed to admit we need help.
As a community of faith we have the power to remove the stigma from seeking help. We begin by establishing our churches as recovery centers.
- Discuss your church as a recovery center. In what ways does your church help you and others? How could it become more helpful? Discuss ways your church could remind members weekly that God’s house is a place for healing.
As a church we can offer local counseling resources. We can share our recovery stories.
Read Hebrews 13:1-2
Loving one another. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some have shown hospitality to angels.
We can also show our understanding that everyone isn’t able bodied in our bulletins and announcements by explaining and giving permission for people to refrain from our church work-out routine. Specifically explaining that we sit, stand and kneel throughout our service as part of our recovery. We sit and kneel to show our humility, our weakness and need for a savior. We stand to praise God for sending us a savior (John 3:16). We recognize that exercise heals and all are encouraged to sway or dance to the music. But don’t feel obligated to participate. This is a healing church. We are all on a road to recovery. God knows our hurts whether we are standing, sitting or kneeling. God meets us wherever we are.
Read John 13:34
Jesus says, “Love…as I love you”.
Reprogram the voice in your head. Shake off well-meaning criticisms of our quirks and differences. Shed negative false non-biblical beliefs. Replace them with the truth. Bad stuff happens to good people. Adversity isn’t a punishment. It is a reality of this sinful fallen world. I can’t do it alone. I need help.
Psalm 56:8 You record my troubles. You keep a list of my tears.
The same rules apply to being a good helper. Don’t be afraid of tears. The best thing to do when someone is crying is hold their hand. We don’t need to say anything or even ask questions. It doesn’t matter what they are crying about. They need comfort. Physical presence is the greatest testimony of love.
Pray: Talk to God with and for your loved one. Pray with them; right then and right there. If I receive a request electronically, I respond electronically such as writing out prayer on their Facebook page if they’ve asked for prayers. And I keep praying for them, every time they enter my mind. Not sure what to say:
“God be with (NAME), hold them, love them and give them your grace. Amen”
Here are a few other tips to comfort your neighbor when they are hurting:
- Keep It Simple:Grieving people are rarely looking to join a bible study, nor do they appreciate being hit with scripture or reminded of their blessings. They aren’t looking for an apology unless you caused their pain. They want comfort. If you don’t know what to say. Don’t say anything. Just sit with them.
- Speak for yourself, not GOD. Before quoting God, make sure you know the chapter and verse in the bible. Don’t make it up. Just admit, “I don’t know why bad things happen to good people”.
- Speak Love:The bible is a love letter, it says that God loves them. God weeps when we weep and God wants to comfort us.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Look for God: God will be there. Christ promises to weep with us, count our tears and comfort us. When chaos strikes, look for the helpers. Identify the highs of the day by noticing the helpers or the things that made you smile. Seek help. Look for the people who feed, comfort and clothe Christ.
I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
- Accept help: Our strengths serve others while our weaknesses offer opportunities to serve us.
- Expect setbacks: Setbacks are part of recovery. It is normal to take a step back before moving forward. We all need moments to catch our breath before moving forward or time to look back to see how far we’ve come.
Recovery is a daily process.
Read Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Healing isn’t guaranteed in this world nor is closure always possible. We may never stop missing the people we’ve lost and or the person we used to be. The bible doesn’t encourage closure in this world. We miss what we have lost and yearn to be whole again.
When Christ was crucified, Jesus conquered death and all our other weaknesses on the cross. We were rescued from death and promised to be reunited and restored.
The tomb was empty.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference. Amen
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)