- 2020Apr 09
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV)
Jesus was tragically wounded, but not every injury was visible. He was bruised because of our sins, but not all of his hurts could be seen. Often that is the way it is with grief. Loss is frequently an invisible wound.
When the Bible speaks of the sufferings of Jesus, it is, of course, referring to physical abuse. He was whipped and spat upon. But it’s talking about more than this. It also records the verbal assaults the Savior endured. And, most painful of all, Jesus was separated from the fellowship of his Father on that first Good Friday when, for three hours, “there was darkness over the whole land” (Mark 15:33).
When we think about the crucifixion of Jesus, it’s usually the scourging, the crown of thorns, or the insulting soldier we remember. But what about what happened to Jesus in the darkness? What about when the Father turned his back on his only Son, because God is too pure to look at sin? (Habakkuk 1:13). That past darkness proves that our sin, which Jesus carried, could only be forgiven one way—by God meeting his own standard.
The “chastisement for our peace;” that is, the penalty that had to be paid in order for us to have peace with God, was laid “upon him.” The Prince of Peace voluntarily submitted to divine punishment so that you and I could be reconciled to God. Indeed, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
This is the basis of your healing. By his “stripes [Jesus’ suffering] you “are healed.” The healing of the breach between sinful man, and holy God, is what Jesus accomplished for you. But in accomplishing this spiritual healing, the road was paved for the healing of all your hurts when, one day, you see your Savior face to face. Until then, you “groan inwardly as you wait eagerly for adoption as sons” (Romans 8:23).
In the Son of God you have a man who is more than qualified to comfort you, since he is well acquainted with grief. Though he suffered unimaginable loss, he triumphed in the end. Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, and ascension into heaven, you can have confident hope that all your hurts will one day be healed in heaven.
Think about the day when God “will wipe away every tear” from your eyes (Revelation 21:4).
[*An edited version of this post is now published in A Small Book for the Hurting Heart: Meditations on Loss, Grief, and Healing.]
- 2020Apr 02
When my husband and I were thrust into our teen’s battle with depression, we never felt more ill-equipped to respond. Though I myself have sailed the seas of sorrow many times in my teen and adult years, I never imagined our child would take such a journey.
It broke my heart to discover she was walking down a road that I had traveled. I felt guilty, as if I could’ve done something to protect her from the melancholy. I felt regret, as if my history with depression had infected her emotional and physical composition.
Most of all, I felt helpless. I wondered what God was doing in the midst of my teen’s inner turmoil. As days passed and heart-breaking conversations ensued between us, the Lord began to show me just how little control I had over my teen’s experience of despondency. The complicated nature of depression, coupled with my inability to fully understand my teen’s inner turmoil, tempted me to become impatient and bitter about the situation entirely.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, rather than stew over what we did not have the power to change, my husband and I turned to what we could know about the work God was doing under our roof and in our hearts as parents. Over time, we found our footing by focusing on key biblical truths about God’s will for us in the context of the challenges our teen was facing.
If you’ve found yourself caring for a depressed teen, maybe you’re wondering what God is up to in the midst of this heartbreaking time. While we cannot know all the ways that God intends to work in your teen’s despondency, the Scriptures do tell us what his goal is for you in this season: your sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Here are four ways (though certainly not all the ways) God is working in this situation to bring about your spiritual maturity in Christ: CONTINUE READING
- 2020Apr 01
In our late twenties, my wife Teana endured three traumatizing miscarriages. I use the word ‘traumatizing’ for many reasons, the first of which is that it seemed contrary to our understanding of God, his promises and the normal expectations of any couple awaiting the birth of a child. She miscarried, not once, not twice but three times. We were not ungrateful for our living daughters. If anything, we were exceedingly thankful. But between our second daughter and our only son, Teana endured the same heartbreak as Hannah did, in the Old Testament, as she poured her heart out to God for a baby boy. She lived and then lost each child in ‘deep distress, praying and weeping bitterly’ (2 Samuel 1:1-11). On one occasion, I remember pushing her in a wheelchair from the doctor’s office to the labor and delivery ward of the hospital; a destination that only increased our awareness of her loss. And on the way, she did her best to cover the unstoppable, gradually encroaching onslaught of red on her dress; uncontestable evidence of another heartbreaking loss.
We did our best, on each occasion, to speak to each other as transparently as words might allow. But I could never imagine the depth of Teana’s sorrow and her ever-increasing feelings of hopelessness. Time has moderated the loss, since then, but not eradicated it. And yet, a husband’s feelings of helplessness are exponentially increased by his inability to cauterize the bleeding heart of his wife. Consequently, I can understand why the loss of a child might drive a wedge between a husband and wife. Every new dawn rehearses the pain when it is multiplied by two forlorn faces staring at each other.
Everyone in our family and circle of friends knew what happened each time. I don’t remember seeking counsel, but I do remember that none was offered. Surely some other woman in our church had suffered a similar loss. Surely some man undoubtedly knew what I was enduring. There must be more to offer than a public pat on the back and a few mumbled words uttered moments before a Sunday service begins. But no one can be faulted. We didn’t ask, and they didn’t offer. Those who loved us were stumbling in the dark along with us. Consequently, I can understand why the loss of a child might drive a wedge between a couple and their church body. Each Sunday morning walk-by-the-nursery reminds them that no infant is waiting for their arrival.
It is too much for anyone to bear, too much for God to expect a couple to endure.
And yet, a richly-colored tapestry of God’s love and care is skillfully and elegantly portrayed on various leaves of the Bible. If only we had a guide. We certainly needed one. Our friends and family also needed counsel. That need is the genesis of HELP! My Baby Died.
Many years after experiencing our sorrow, a providential meeting with a friend, who also represented a publisher, resulted in its writing. In it, Teana was kind enough to share her feelings and help me recall memories intentionally forgotten. In it, the Scripture is opened as a balm for broken hearts. In it, help is given for couples who experience the loss as well as friends and families who want to incarnate Jesus’s love in that crisis.
We know and believe that God is sovereign. We know and believe He loves us with a love from which nothing can separate us. We know and believe that He is working all things out for our good. We know that he has a plan that will eventually be seen as glorious. We know and believe all of that. But sometimes, our voices are so hoarse from crying that we can’t preach the gospel to ourselves. We can’t cry for help. And sometimes our hearts are so broken that they don’t seem mendable. Ever. And that is the providential blessing of books; ever-present friends, always available and willing to be opened and poured out, word-by-word, thought-by-thought, page-by-page, into broken, needy hearts. Like divinely-cut cardboard pieces, Christian books are providentially shaped to gently touch against our timid, fearful, hurting edges, fitted precisely to our need and completing the puzzle which eventually becomes the amazingly, beautiful picture that God is painting.
[Today’s guest post is written by Reggie Weems, author of HELP! My Baby Died.]