Disappointment. Grief. Pain. Sorrow. Strife. Broken relationships.
All of these in isolation, or all together, are enough to crush even the strongest among us. And a crushed spirit can often last much longer than any sickness. Illnesses often have cures or medicine to alleviate the pain. A crushed spirit knows no such relief. Or does it?
Psalm 34:18 says that the Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. The psalmist goes on to say that while the afflictions of the righteous are many, the Lord delivers him out of them all.
The proverb is true. We cannot bear a crushed spirit. But God can. While we would break under the sheer weight of such sorrow, God upholds us. And we are not alone. God knows our circumstances and is there to deliver us. Is it always immediate? No, but it will happen one day. While he will always be near to us in our moments of deepest suffering, he might not deliver us right away. Deliverance is coming, and while we wait for that day his promise to be near sustains us.
But there is something even more profound about this God who is near to the crushed in spirit. He knows the crushing blows intimately well. How can we know this? Because he crushed his own Son for our deliverance. The Savior, God the Son, was crushed for us. The Father was momentarily separated from him so we would always be near him. No one ever experienced a more crushed spirit than Christ on that day on the cross, all so we would never face such wrath and condemnation. Our ultimate deliverance from pain and sorrow is sure because the cross is sure. Psalm 34:18 is true because the cross is true.
A crushed spirit is impossible to bear; this is true. But by God’s grace and kindness, we do not have to bear such crushing blows alone. We have a God who not only promises his presence in every pain but also knows our pain most intimately. A crushed spirit only God can bear, and he daily bears us up.
When someone is caught up in the throes of addiction, they are in bondage. They have lost the ability to stop using altogether. Family members of loved ones trapped in the cycle and the roller coaster of addiction do not comprehend the insanity of addiction. They honestly believe that if their loved one cared about their family, they would stop. Since they don’t understand the dynamics of addiction they think they can shame, guilt, manipulate, threaten or bribe someone into quitting. What they don’t understand is that you cannot rationalize addiction. People will go insane trying to get their loved ones to stop using often caring more about the addict’s life and responsibilities than they do, and become fixated on trying to fix, change, manage and control the addicted person’s behavior. And because they think they can love someone enough for them to stop using, they often enable the bad behavior by not allowing people to suffer the consequences of their poor choices that hurt them and those around them. Thus without realizing it, they reinforce the bad behavior and offer the person in bondage no incentive to change or seek help. This allows the addiction to continue and hinders “the bottom” necessary for getting to a sweet place of brokenness and surrender required for healing and breaking free from the bondage of addiction.
Doesn’t the Bible tell us to help the needy? Yes, but it also tells us to be wise. Often our helping is actually hurting. But how do we know the difference? Helping is doing something for someone else that they are not capable of doing for themselves. Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves. Enabling encourages and helps the addict to stay in addiction.
On the surface, the “enabler’ may appear to be doing all the right things and doing good things to stop the user from destroying themselves, but often the enabler needs as much help as the addicted person. The only difference is that one behavior looks very good on the surface while the other not so good. The truth is they both need help.
Make no mistake about it! Allowing someone to continue in their addiction without making them accountable for their destructive behavior is enabling, it’s destructive, and must be addressed. Because it hurts everyone involved and cosigns with the enemy to destroy families, relationships and separates us from God. Both sides need to take responsibility and be accountable for their side of the fence. What, they both have in common is an inner woundedness. There is a deeper issue causing the addiction and the enabling. The difference is that it’s harder for the enabler to see their need for help because the rooted issues do not manifest in seemingly negative behaviors shunned by the Church and society but are instead applauded as selfless acts of mercy and love. Enabling allows the addict and enabler to stay in bondage, preventing them from seeing their need for help, and the destructive cycle will continue for a lifetime without intervention.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)
In marriage, we are followers of Christ first then a spouse. In the same way, it’s important to remember that these verses apply to us (first):
🌼 Ephesians 5:1-2 “Imitate God; therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ…”
🌼v.3 “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you…”
🌼v.6 “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins…”
🌼 v.10 “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them”.
🌼 v.21 “and further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”
Don’t miss that all the verses before v.22 apply to you, your spouse and together in your marriage.
With these verses as a foundation, we see the way a healthy marriage should look like, one that pleases the Lord. A marriage that communicates the love of Christ for His Church and His Church for Him in this dark and fallen world 🙏
A huge barrier to forgiving others is the misconception about, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Many people believe that by forgiving, they will continue to live as doormats allowing sinful behavior when nothing has changed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness focuses on the offense. It only involves one person and has nothing to do with what the other person chooses to do. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. It requires two people engaged in the process.
Forgiveness is the choice to release the offender. Reconciliation is the choice to rejoin the offender. It’s being brought back into a relationship where a wall of separation has been erected. Restoration is the process that makes that possible. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It requires confession, repentance, and a strong commitment on both sides to work on the relationship and rebuild trust. And it often takes a much longer time.
For example, if a loved is engaged in drugs, alcohol, abuse, or some other harmful behavior, they may ask us to forgive them. Of course, God’s heart is always that we forgive, but if they ask that we go back to the way it was, the answer is a resounding NO! That’s not what we do at all. Love holds people accountable. Love protects. We do not have to allow harmful behavior that hurts us and our families. Thus, there may be extremely toxic, unhealthy people who may need to be removed from our lives.
An example is a relative who sexually molested us as a child. We can forgive them as God has called us to, but having a relationship with them may endanger ourselves and others. So forgiveness does not mean we have to have any kind of relationship with the offender ever again. Forgiveness is a choice, and it’s a willful act of obedience that blesses the heart of our Father in Heaven and sets us free.
In the physical world, boundaries are easy to see, lines, fences, signs, hedges, these are all physical boundaries. They give the same message -THIS IS WHERE MY PROPERTY BEGINS. As the owner of the property, I am legally responsible what happens on my property line. Non owners are not responsible. In the spiritual realm boundaries are just as real only harder to see. Yet they serve the same purpose. They protect ownership.
Our bodies are the temple of the living God and His Spirit lives in us. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) We have been bought at a price…by the precious blood of Jesus . (1 Corinthians 6:20) Therefore, we belong to Jesus first and foremost and our identity is in Him and Him alone. Boundaries merely help guard and protect that relationship and our relationship with self and others.
Boundaries also defend us physically, emotionally and spiritually from intrusive or unwanted dangers. They also make it possible to engage and enjoy a mutually healthy relationships because they protect those relationships by setting the course for mutual respect, consideration and safety.
Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins….leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to take responsibility for my life and it opens us options to pursue the person that God created me to be. It also gives me the freedom to allow you to be who God created you to be and take responsibility for your own life. This takes the burden off both you and me.
Healthy boundaries guard yourself from giving more than you should and protect you from others taking more than they should.
Boundaries help bring order to your personal world and the world around you and guard against enmeshment and codependency where you are controlled by others and stripped of your identity in Christ causing great conflict in all areas of your life.
Do you have healthy boundaries? If not ask God to show you how to put boundaries in place that will guard your heart and help you engage in mutually healthy relationships.
There are many self-help books available offering various theories and approaches for overcoming negative emotions and behaviors. Modern-day psychology is valuable in understanding the soul (mind, emotions, and will). That is the area that gets sick that drives belief systems and negative emotions. The rooted systems in our life can make our souls extremely sick. A psychology approach can diagnose the problem and offer solution.
However, since the solution offered is rooted in humanism and, therefore, man-made, there is no true long-term healing that can occur. At best, it can help change behavior and give you tools for self-discipline or positive thinking. That is not freedom. There is no lasting victory because it does not deal with sin. It does not allow for the blood of Christ to cleanse us and change us. It merely puts a band-aid over symptoms. It may address anxiety, depression, outward manifestations, and symptoms of deeper issues – but often, the first solution offered is medication and never gets to the root. So people are not getting the true healing they are seeking.
As Christians, we know that only God has the power to heal us from the inside out and set us free. That is true victory. He doesn’t just change behaviors; He transforms, renews, restores, redeems, and breaks the chains of bondage. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Isaiah also tells us that God is the “Wonderful Counselor.” John 14:6 says, “the Holy Spirit is the Counselor.”
Therefore, true freedom is found only by applying biblical truths to the wounds of our hearts. Jesus is the balm of Gilead. He is the ointment that heals the wounds of God’s hurting children.
Emotions are tied to our thought life. Have you ever stepped back and listened to your thoughts? Have you been surprised by them and wondered where they were coming from? In his book ‚Wild at Heart,‛ John Eldredge wrote, ‚We are being lied to all the time. Yet, we never stop to say, ‘Wait a minute who else is speaking here? Where are these ideas coming from? Where are these feelings coming from?‛
Satan is at war with God’s children. He is a crafty one and a deceiver and, he knows if he were to show up as a dark, scary figure, with a pitchfork, we would immediately flee, sensing danger. So, instead, he uses our fears, hurts, and insecurities to influence us through our thought life. He knows that if he can control our minds, he can control our behavior and, what is his most used weapon to do so? Lies! When we believe Satan’s lies, rather than God’s truth, it leads to faulty ways of thinking and wrong behaviors that enslave our souls. The only defense we have to protect our minds from being lost in the darkness of lies, is the truth: the inerrant Word of God.
God’s word gives a detailed combat strategy for defeating the enemy. We are to pull down strongholds (rooted lies) and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Simply put, we must replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. If your thoughts are telling you that you are not good enough that you are unworthy that you are ugly that you will always live in fear that you will never heal or that you will always live in bondage, stop for one moment and ask yourself, ‛Whose voice am I hearing? Who is it that is telling me that?‛
God’s word tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and His voice protects them from the thief who wants to destroy them. Our beloved Savior would never harm His sheep by speaking such lies. If you hear that you will never amount to anything, that’s a lie from the enemy choose, instead, to listen to your Shepherd who says, ‘For I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you a future and a hope‛ (Jeremiah 29:11). The enemy is a liar and cannot stand against God’s truth.
Anger can be overt – screaming, yelling, rage, throwing things, physical abusive, or it can be very covert– slow-simmering suppressed anger beneath that surfaces occasionally.
While hidden anger is usually rooted in past childhood hurts, what lies underneath is ready to erupt at any moment much like a volcano.
For instance, when someone does or says something wrong, the one with hidden and suppressed anger often overreacts, an innocent mistake may unleash a magnitude of anger out of proportion with the simple mistake.
If you have hidden anger, you may find yourself at one extreme or another – hopelessness to extreme hostility and yet be completely unaware why you are experiencing these feelings and may even be clueless to the severity of your outbursts of anger towards others and how they are being hurt emotionally in the wake of your anger.
Unresolved anger causes deep wounds in your relationships with God and others. It hurts little ones who are caught in the aftermath of a parent’s anger. Children learn that anger is an acceptable way to deal with conflict, and often take this modeled behavior into adulthood negatively impacting relationships at all levels.
This powerful emotion robs your heart of peace, joy and steals contentment from your spirit.
It’s never too late to get to the root of anger and allow God to heal your heart. A willingness to admit you have hidden anger is the first step to freedom. God is faithful to heal and restore those who come to Him for healing.
Have you seen someone smiling, yet within the smile you recognized sadness? Have you heard someone laughing, though you knew the heart was not healed?
Repressed grief occurs when a person has reason to grieve and needs to grieve but does not grieve.
The person with repressed grief exhibits negative lifestyle patterns but does not know why. Examples may be distancing from others, playing the clown, using mood-altering substances like alcohol or drugs, engaging in mood-altering behaviors like gambling or compulsive spending.
Only by facing the truth of your painful losses in life and by going through genuine grief will you have emotional healing.
In the bible, the Psalmists prayed this prayer….
“Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me.” Psalm 43:3
When you are ready to grieve your hurts and losses, Jesus will apply his healing balm. He is The Balm of Gilead – The Ointment that can heal your wounded heart and give you emotional healing.