Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
The Bible has a lot to say about time. The most important thing it says is something we already know—that our time is limited. Time can be used or wasted, it can be invested or squandered, but either way, once used, it can never be regained.
Time matters because we have such a limited supply. The most famous passage in the Bible about time reminds us that there is a time for everything in life, and I am referring to Ecclesiastes 3:3 that says “there is a time for healing”. And I want to think about that word ‘healing’. Why? Because I believe we all need healing of the mind and of our emotions, especially when we have been hurt or rejected in life.
I have a feeling there are many hurt people out there in life, and the Bible says there is a time for healing, and I’m referring to healing of the mind especially, although I believe God does bring physical healing as well. One of my favourite books is David Seamands’ Healing for Damaged Emotions, which is well worth reading.
I read about an older woman who caught a taxi one day, and the driver spoke to her about the tragedy in his life. His wife had left him for another man. He had been angry and brokenhearted. But that relationship didn’t last and the wife begged her husband to forgive her and to take her back. He told this 80-plus friend in the taxi, I’ll never take her back! He expected to get lots of sympathy from an older lady.
But he wasn’t ready for her response: That’s not the thing to do. You’ve got to forgive her. And she went on to tell him how people could forgive with God’s help. As she got out of the taxi the driver said, Thank you so much. No one has ever cared enough to talk to me like that. It’s a profound lesson to learn that people want you to care and show some empathy, because there is so much sadness around.
Editing our hurtful memories
Dr Richard Dobbins is the founder of Emerge Ministries in the United States. This is a Christian ministry that provides counselling and therapy for people who need help. One day he talked about a painful memory that afflicted him for years and years. He says that he believed that he caused the death of his mother. He believed this because his mother died while giving him birth. So, in later years, when he got into trouble he would tell himself that it was because he was a bad kid. After all, he had killed his mother.
As a teenager, after he became a Christian, he had this increasing urge to visit his mother’s grave. The first few times he wept over the thought that a 19-year-old woman had to die to give him life. The tears helped a little, but the hurt was still there. Then, when he visited the grave site at age 19, the Holy Spirit put a new thought into his mind. These were the words he received:
Not only did Jesus die for you, but your mother died for you. How valuable your life must be. See that you make it count for something.
Richard Dobbins says that it was in that moment that he began to realise that we can ‘edit’ our memories. He could not change the fact that his mother died at childbirth, but God could help him to remember the event in a less painful way and even in a way that strengthens him. He offers us a process by which we can edit our hurtful memories.
A process of healing
1: Talk honestly with God about the memory that is hurting you.
This is not easy. It takes courage, but it works.
2: Express to God your feelings about these hurtful memories.
As we honestly talk to God, intense emotions are going to surface. When they do, we must not hold them back; we must express them. Some people will protest: But I don’t want God to know how angry I am. But Dobbins says, Think how ridiculous that statement is. We can’t hide anything from God. God invites our feelings, because God knows that if we repress such intense feelings we will only hurt ourselves. More than that, God is quite capable of handling anything we express to him.
3: Ask God to help you see the hurtful memories in a new way.
When we empty out our feelings and offer them up to God, we put ourselves in a position where God can comfort us and help us look at our memories in a new way. As we continue to pray, as we listen to his word, as we talk with Christian friends, as we participate in worship, God helps us see the hurtful memory in a new way.
4: Praise God for the new meaning he reveals to you.
As God gives us a new way to see the old hurt, we need to repeat the new meaning frequently in our prayers. We need to do this because we can be sure that Satan will try to get us to think in the old way. Dobbins stresses that this method for healing hurtful memories is a process. When we have been thinking in a particular way for a long time, it takes a while to change it. We need to keep at it.
Maybe you’ve said, I don’t think that God could possibly love me. I can’t get over the horrible memories that afflict me. How could God love someone like me? We ask Jesus Christ to walk back with us to the time when the hurtful memory occurred. Then, we ask him to free us from the effects of this wound.
(To be cotinued in A Time for Healing – Part 2)
Copyright 2000 by Rev. Dr. John K. Luoma
Back from Whence I Came