Biblical Grit – A Time to Heal

Purple Splash Cross

Remember: Don’t lift more than God can handle

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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Healing Relationships

Read Matthew 19:26

Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.”

 

  1. 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.

Scared TurtlePeople 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

DepressionCelebrate tears.  Tears are a testimony of love.  They have healing powers. Being sad doesn’t mean we failed.  It simply means we are grieving.  If we never cry, how would Jesus count our tears?

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.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

  • 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.

Romans 8:38-39

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.

Matthew 25:35-36

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)

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Survival Skills

rock hill

Remember: Don’t lift more than God can handle

Warning:  Bad Things Happen to Good People

Week 2: Survival Steps

 

Let’s talk about stress.

The most difficult problems to accept are the ones we can’t change. We struggle, wrestle and beat ourselves up with stuff beyond our strength and out of our control.

We expect the impossible when we treat every hardship as a challenge to overcome.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Such as applying self-help one liners to every situation expecting a quick fix and being shocked when they don’t work. Only to keep giving the same advice to others that never works for us.

“You can do it”, “do it yourself” and “never give up” attitudes don’t work when we lack control over the situation or need help.

“No pain, no gain” applies to a good workout but is cruel to say to rape, murder or other abuse victims.

Not every problem is solved with a box of kittens, a tissue and a pep talk. In reality, every fight can’t be won. And most importantly, it may actually be impossible because not every issue is ours to solve.

We may not have the skills, the resources or even the control to stop bad things from happening or make things better.

  1. List and discuss bad things out of your control.

 

 

Cancer, mental illness, abuse, addictions, death, poverty and natural disasters are all major tragedies out of our control.

 

Telling ourselves or someone else they are strong enough to handle adversity is not biblical. God knows we can’t handle it alone. God didn’t create us to handle it alone and God doesn’t want us to handle it alone.
People who can do everything themselves don’t need help.  They don’t need a savior.

God wants to be part of our lives.  God wants us to give up, call out for help and embrace our savior.

PrayerRead Matthew 11:28-30 

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you 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.”

  1. Discuss Matthew 11:28-30. Why is it hard to ask for help?

Babies cry out for help.  Children cry out for help.  “OUCH” or “HELP!” is a normal natural quick way to tell people who care about us that we need help.

Is there an age when we are too old or a time when we are too able to ask for help?

So why is one of the very first lies we teach children “you’re OK, you’re not hurt, shake it off, and don’t let anyone know you’re hurt, don’t show weakness…”? Why do we put so much emphasis on self-sufficiency?

Also not biblical.

God hears our cries.

Read Psalm 55:17

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and God hears my voice.

God wants us to cry out.

When we are weary and burdened we appreciate rest.  We appreciate help.  We notice when we are relieved of our burdens.

God created us to be social.  We are yoked, tethered and joined together with Christ in his baptism, life, death and resurrection (Romans 6). We need each other.  We need Christ.

Accepting things we can’t change is an important recovery step.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

~ Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

The path to acceptance isn’t easy. It is a journey of its own. Some people are determined to figure out how to solve all their problems on their own. Some have too many secrets, hurts, habits and faulty beliefs to get help. They are afraid and don’t have the support system to recover.

The path to recovery should never be ventured alone. Seek God, a good counselor and healthy support group.

The hardest problems to accept are other people’s problems. When we love someone, we want to protect them.  We want to end their pain. We feel responsible for them and their problems. We struggle for them.

But we have very limited control over other people and their problems, even when those problems hurt us.

Trying to change other people is futile.

The only path to acceptance is through grief.  We have to let go of our old tired beliefs that don’t work (Romans 6:6), reveal our secrets, accept humility and admit weakness.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“My grace is sufficient 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.

 

  1. Discuss 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Why are church people afraid to share their weaknesses, sins and hardships?

In 1969, Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD identified five emotional stages of grief from personal loss or change from death, illness, incarceration, divorce or addictions. These five emotional stages apply to any stress or change in our life, including traffic.

It is important to remember these stages aren’t sequential.  They don’t work like a check list.  We go back and forth between them as we attempt to cope.

And when crisis hits a family or group everyone covers different stages making communication and progress difficult.

  1. Discuss each emotional stage. Request a volunteer to represent each stage.

Denial: Our first reaction to stress is denial.  It is a retreat when we feel overwhelmed. While in denial we refuse or are unable to believe the truth. Denial is a mask. It provides a false reality to the truth.  Denial is the furthest point away from recovery.

Denial says “I’m not sick”, “My brother isn’t dead”, and “I don’t have a problem with alcohol”.

Dysfunctional behavior flourishes in denial and denial leaves victims open to further abuse.

Read Proverbs 23:29-35

“They hit me but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up…”

Anger:  Anger is our strongest emotion.  It can range from mild irritation to rage. Anger emerges when we feel pushed to acknowledge our loss.

Anger is an important emotion and an important step in recovery. Anger acknowledges and protects us from the raw truth. It is a crossroad, to truth or denial.

Anger shouts, “Why me?”, “It’s not fair!”, “How can this happen to me?”, ‘”Who did this to me?”, “Why did God let this happen?”

Unfortunately, anger may stall recovery for people who are uncomfortable with conflict, afraid of anger and unable to face the reality of their loss.

And anger is destructive when turned inwards or out to others. Angry people are motivated to do something but rarely is anger productive.

Anger blames God, the addict, their family and everyone else. Anger shames the victim and is unproductive.

Read Ephesians 4:26-27

“In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Bargaining: Everyone learns how to bargain or negotiate to avoid punishment. Bargaining demonstrates hope in a higher power’s ability to change the situation and restore their life before adversity. While bargaining offers hope, it is still far from acceptance. Bargaining is another strategy to avoid adversity. It is an effort to gain control over the situation.

Bargaining says, “I promise I’ll never have sex again if I’m not pregnant” or “I promise to stop drinking if the judge lets me go.”

Read Psalm 66:13-14

I will fulfill my vows to you – vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble.

Depression: Depression hits when we feel the full weight of the situation, and know we are powerless but not ready to accept help. Shame, guilt, past memories and clinical depression may stand in the way of healing. Depression is silent, tearful and mourns the loss. Depressed people may feel ashamed or lack the energy to be with other people. They are afraid and hopeless. Depression says “I’m so sad”, “what’s the point?” and “why go on?”

Read Psalm 22:2

My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

Acceptance:  Acceptance doesn’t mean we celebrate the bad things that happen to us or declare them good.  It simply means we accept the truth, whatever that truth may be. Acceptance acknowledges we are powerless over things beyond our control and ready to shed our secrets.

We are only as sick as our darkest secrets.

Denial, anger, bargaining and depression are all part of the journey to acceptance.

Acceptance is the first step of recovery. Acceptance leads to peace.

Acceptance says, “I know I have a problem.  I need help. Will you help me?”

Read 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Remember: These emotional stages aren’t sequential.  We go back and forth between them as we struggle to cope with loss. We can fall asleep in acceptance and wake up in denial.

It is important to be patient in love and recovery.

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.

~  Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

 

  1. Group activity: Volunteers role play how each emotional stage interacts within a family for the following issues:
  • Death
  • Addictions
  • Domestic Violence
  • Mental Illness

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Homework: Make a list of your hurts.  Identify everyone who may be hurt by these issues and identify where you are in the healing process.

Luke 12:2-3

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, or secret that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Talk to God about your hurts, the people hurt with you and the person(s) causing the hurt.  Keep praying every time they enter your mind.

 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 be opened to you”. 

Not sure what to say:

“God restore us.  Help me accept my past, present and future.  Help me accept that I am powerless over _(my hurts)_.  Restore and heal those I love.  Help us walk in truth.  Pour out your grace upon us. Help us.  Give us the courage to accept help. Amen”

Remember: You may not know what wall is preventing you or them from restoring peace.

The Giving Sheep

Daily Prompt: Charitable

You inherited $5 million, with instructions that you must give it all away — but you can choose any organizations you like to be the beneficiaries. Where does the money go?

Sheep

 

Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory…He will say to [the sheep], ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance…

 

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

World Hunger

Maryland Food Bank

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church

Women of Faith

I was a stranger and you invited me in,

House of Ruth

Gilchrist Hospice

Helping Up Mission

I needed clothes and you clothed me,

Goodwill

I was sick and you looked after me,

National Suicide Lifeline

Celebrate Recovery

The Family Tree

Parents Anonymous

Crohn’s Treatment

I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Community of St. Dysmus