Don't You Hate It When This Happens?
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
I wrote the following article many years ago, but the message continues to resound for anyone who has been wounded on the battlefield of life. I have experienced growth and healing in so many ways since I first wrote these words, but I never want to forget where God brought me from and how things might have been if I had not responded to His voice. I hope this word brings some measure of encouragement, comfort and healing to your soul!
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10-11)
It’s the wee hours of the morning, and I was just awakened out of a deep sleep by the Lord. (It may also have had something to do with the late night snacks I chowed down on before going to bed, or it might have been my husband tossing and turning beside me – whatever the reason, the moment I awoke, the Holy Spirit was right there – whispering in my ear.)
“You’ve been harboring resentment,” He said.
“Ummmm, ok. . . . “ I’ve been in this place before. I’m being rebuked by the Lord when all I want to do is sleep.
“You’ve been angry. You’ve been ‘right-fighting’ with your brothers and sisters.”
Ok, that might be true. And no, it’s not a very pretty picture. So I immediately agree with what the Holy Spirit is showing me, and repent before the Lord while lying in my bed (albeit, somewhat half-heartedly - after all, it is the middle of the night.)
“Can I go back to sleep now Lord?”
He replied, “You’ve been sleeping for too long. You’re allowing your heart to become hard.”
Uh-oh. . . .
He continued, “Why don’t you get up and go downstairs. We need to talk.”
It’s been awhile since we’ve had this kind of talk, but I know the drill. So here I am, sitting in my recliner with a cup of herbal tea, a stale croissant, my computer and my Bible. The house is quiet, my mind is still, and I open my heart to hear what the Lord wants to speak to my spirit. I’m about to be chastened by my Lord.
He replayed for me a conversation that I had with a fellow believer yesterday. My friend and I are standing on different sides of an issue pertaining to members of the Body of Christ – and, to be honest, I’m pretty annoyed with him and the situation.
The Lord reminded me that He had taken me through this type of situation many times before. And, most times, I had successfully navigated the challenge in front of me. But tonight He reveals that the cumulative effects of spiritual warfare and emotional trauma have taken a toll on my heart. The words of Jesus in Matthew 26 have never rung more true, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
My spirit recognizes what is right in the sight of the Lord. My spirit desires to do what is right in the sight of the Lord. And my spirit is committed to doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. Yet, while I have no doubt my spirit will endure and persevere, I’m not sure how much more the flesh can take. How many times can a heart be injured without experiencing significant and irreparable damage?
It appears that I have accumulated a buildup of scar tissue. And while scar tissue is a natural part of the healing process after our body has been wounded or damaged, it tends to be of “inferior functional quality” when compared to normal, healthy tissue. Nothing is able to grow through scar tissue. And perhaps most troubling, too much scar tissue around our hearts can place us at risk for heart failure. Well now, that’s a rather depressing thought. . . .
So, let me see if I’ve got this right. . . . .
· Because of injuries received in spiritual battle, I have significant scarring around my heart.
· This scarring is affecting my ability to function in wholeness and optimal spiritual health.
So I asked, “Where did these wounds and scars originate from Lord?”
God is so good. He likes it when we ask Him direct questions. And He likes to give direct answers. He doesn’t usually pull any punches when trying to show us the state of our hearts. So he quickly provided me with a list of names of the people who had wounded me, denigrated me, betrayed me, abandoned me, or maligned me. And, before you ask - NO - it’s not a matter of forgiveness – that was settled a long time ago. It’s a matter of healing – and healing takes time. While many of the wounds occurred years ago, the scars remain.
The problem is, the wounds in my heart are not completely healed. I know this, because it still hurts when someone pushes on them. And every time it happens it’s just like the first time all over again. The Holy Spirit showed me that what I am experiencing is very similar to a trauma response experienced by battle weary soldiers. It is an emotional reaction that is not tied to logic. After all, I consider myself a pretty logical, rational person – but after years of taking “hits” from the enemy’s camp, my heart sometimes supersedes my mind’s capacity to remain objective.
The most troubling fact is the realization that each and every name on that list represents a ministry leader who professes to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. For years I have wrestled with the question of how one Christian could wound another so deeply. Why would a true follower of Jesus choose to remain in broken fellowship with others in the Body of Christ without doing everything possible to be reconciled and restored? The Bible has assured me of God’s answer time and time again – but it doesn’t stop the pain when someone pushes that emotional trigger.
The situations that led to the broken relationships are irrelevant - because, in the light of eternity, none of it really matters. The Lord knows the details of each situation – and I have been able to stand before God and man with clean hands and a pure heart in each of these situations - until tonight. It appears there is some new development in my heart that requires my attention.
The issue is, I’ve been expecting people to actually live what they say they believe. I’m not big into relationships with “double-minded” people. James 1 tells me that they are “unstable in all their ways”. And I’m getting weary and frustrated by how much of it I see around me. That’s what led to my wake-up call tonight.
I’m not bitter – at least not yet. It is only by God’s grace and mercy that He alerted me to this problem before it was able to take root and spring up to defile me (Hebrews 12:15).
What I am is mad.
And that’s the problem.
While my anger may be rooted in a righteous indignation (which is fully acceptable before God – Psalm 7:11, Eph. 4:26-27) – I have allowed it to impact my heart and the way I relate to others. This is a trap that I have witnessed many prophetic people fall into over the years. Prophetic people are called to “sound the alarm”, to hold God’s standard for righteousness before the Church. It burns within us. But it will not be our voice that brings people to repentance of sin. While we may be called to serve as watchmen and trumpets for the Lord, the job of conviction of sin belongs to the Holy Spirit alone. God just needed to remind me of that tonight. And I’m so thankful He did . . . because left unchecked – that “righteous indignation” can quickly evolve into a “pious self-righteousness” - a ugly symptom of a damaged spirit.
So now that we’ve got that settled, the Holy Spirit calls me to take another step deeper into the recesses of my heart. . . . . He reveals that my irritation is not simply a result of “righteous indignation”, but also a reflection of my pain and disappointment in other believers.
Over the years I have been repeatedly disillusioned by people I desperately wanted to believe in. Where are the people that we can count on in this hour? Where are the men and women who will not shrink back in cowardice – the ones who can love unconditionally, work in tandem with others, receive correction and not be threatened by another’s calling or gifting? There is such a desperate need for Godly leaders in this hour – the Church is undergoing one of the most radical transformations in history. We are preparing for a great harvest of souls and God will soon return for His Bride. The problem is, He is returning for a Bride without spot or wrinkle – and I’m seeing lots of wrinkles around me. . . .
However, God didn’t want to talk about the wrinkles around me tonight – He only wants to talk about the wrinkles within me. Ouch!
Okay God – I get it. I see the problem. I’m not responsible for anyone else. You’ll deal with them. I’m just responsible for dealing with the issues in my own heart. So what do you want me to do about this buildup of scar tissue? How are you and I going to get rid of it?
Oh no, not that again. . . .
Well, if I must. . . .
Here goes . . .
To my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ –
I am writing to ask your forgiveness for any way in which I have hurt you, offended you or let you down during our time together. I have always loved you with an unconditional love and my heart is for you – not against you. I miss you. My soul longs for the reconciliation of our hearts. I have fought, and will continue to fight, on your behalf - before God, man and satan. Over the years I have shed many tears for you and my spirit groans for you. I love you enough to wrestle with you, as “iron sharpens iron”, so that we might both be fully mature in the Lord. Do you know how much I like you? How much I enjoyed our times together? I realize that restoration may not be possible. Trust will take a long time to rebuild. But please know that my love will always remain with you.
In the days ahead, please do not let my passion and zeal intimidate you or frighten you away. Please try to respect the unique style and giftings that God has placed inside of me - even if you don’t always appreciate them. Above all, will you promise that you will take time to discover the meaning behind my words and the motives of my heart rather than simply be offended by them? I pledge to do the same for you.
In return, please know that I have forgiven you and released you for the things you said and did which caused me such pain. While God alone can bring healing to my heart, you alone can bring closure to my mind. I was left with so many unanswered questions. Why did you throw me away? How could you walk away in anger and not attempt to be reconciled? Why did you refuse to deal with the issues at hand? What was so scary – so overwhelming - that it caused you to walk away from someone with whom you had been in relationship with for years?
Lord please forgive me for harboring feelings of self-righteousness in my heart. Forgive me for “right-fighting”. Please teach me how to find the balance between standing for truth and extending great grace. Forgive me Lord for reacting out of my wounds and pain. I ask you to fully eradicate the damage caused by battle and restore my heart to full functioning. I give you permission to remove the scar tissue by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I acknowledge that You alone will determine the fate of each man and woman. Show me Lord when to pursue relationships and when to release them. I recognize that you are sifting and pruning your Church and not all who call you Lord will enter heaven. You will have a Bride without spot or wrinkle. I give you permission to iron out every wrinkle you see within me. Please continue to give me great wisdom in knowing who to align myself with in the coming days. I ask you to keep me in Your perfect will according to Your plans and purposes for my life. I love You and do not despise the chastening of my Lord as a Father toward His child. Thank You for Your faithfulness toward me and all those who have wounded me. I lift them up before Your throne and ask for Your hand to direct their steps in the coming days. Let everything be done for the Glory of God. . . . Amen! And Amen!
Well, I need to end here. Daylight has broken and the rest of the house has started to stir. Another day is in front of me. Lord help me to do better – to be better – for You this day.
As a closing thought, you might like to know that there is some hope for all of us. The fact is, not every wound results in scarring. The exception is found through the process of regeneration. Some species have the ability to heal and grow new, healthy tissue – and a scar will never emerge. Let it be so Lord Jesus! Thank you Father for the continued regeneration of your saints through the power of Your Holy Spirit! Talk to you soon. . . .