Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes, we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 (KJV)
Have you ever cut your finger deeper than you realized? A cut that you slapped a bandage on, but probably could’ve warranted a couple of stitches had you not waited so long to examine it?
Some wounds that go much deeper than the superficial papercuts but are the deep ones that impede the normal function of vital areas. We fail to realize how vital some of our parts are until they are wounded. These wounds will be high maintenance, and they take a while to heal.
It can be really hard to protect a wound from further damage from outside influences, especially when they involve fingers, joints, and other moveable parts that could reopen with the slightest sudden movement. That got me thinking about other kinds of wounds. Deep wounds that are just as vulnerable to daily life but aren’t front and center for all to see and tiptoe around.
I’m talking about spiritual wounds. The negative spiritual effects of painful physical events, particularly chronic ones we’ve pushed so far down it seemed like they’d healed—only to find out they hadn’t.
Has betrayal, rejection, sin, loss, or abuse cut you to your core? And are the wounds still open?
I understand, friend. I’ve had my share of spiritual wounds, some lasting for decades because I wasn’t willing to commit to treatment.
In my nursing studies, there were many stages of grief and healing that were discussed in psychology, which most people who have been to any type of mental health counseling may be familiar with. The five stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance can help us identify where we are in the process. Likewise, the six stages of healing which are acceptance, insight, action, self-esteem, healing, and meaning could help us track our progress throughout all stages. These are all insightful identifiers, but they seem to fall short when it comes to spiritual healing.
Photo credit (Mark Bonica Flickr 2010) "Army Combat Medic Statue"
Reflecting on my time as a combat medic, I like to think of spiritual healing as the three very basic steps of WOUND healing that are all paramount in complete healing of both physical and spiritual wounds.
The Great Physician can completely heal our broken heart and bind up our wounds, healing and making us whole.
But, just as with any physical wound, we have a role to play in our healing. There are steps The Healer would have us take to partner with Him in our recovery and restoration. Yes, sometimes God chooses to work a miracle in our lives, healing us immediately of the pain and completely shutting up our wounds for good. It can happen! But some wounds may have identified some areas of our lives that need to change or need growth. In these circumstances, the healing process is that necessary part of our growth into what God wants us to be.
However, for many of us, spiritual healing will be a process. And, honestly, it wouldn’t be fair of me to tell you that these three steps are easy, that healing will happen overnight, or that you’ll never receive any more wounds.
3 Biblical Steps to Spiritual Healing
But, I can tell you that, though it may take longer than we’d like, through God’s grace and mercy it is possible to have our once-and-for-all healing of the spirit.
1. CLEANSE THE WOUND
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (KJV)
As with any physical wound, spiritual wounds must be thoroughly cleansed in order to prepare for complete healing. And that can really be a painful process.
Our cleansing starts with prayer. We must come to Him, earnestly asking in faith that He heal us and make us whole. And we must be willing to receive our healing.
Though most spiritual wounds are caused by others, we ourselves can be the cause of our spiritual damage. No matter the cause, unforgiveness is at the root. We must ask God to help us forgive those who’ve hurt us (even if that means asking Him to help us forgive ourselves). Forgiveness is a choice that has to be made to break the cycle of chronic spiritual debilitation and bondage.
When we forgive, we purge bitterness, strife, resentfulness, hurt, anger, guilt, self-pity—toxins that otherwise would negatively affect the wound and hinder its ability to completely heal. This cleansing prepares us for our long-awaited, complete healing.
Make the choice to forgive. It’s time to finally be healed, friend.
2. PROTECT THE WOUND
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (KJV)
Just as I bandaged many soldier’s wounds for protection from germs and things around them that could do further harm, spiritual wounds must be guarded against outside forces that would slow or stop the healing, and even causing more injury. While trusting that God is doing His part to bind up our wounds and ultimately heal us, we can help by vigilantly protecting our wounds. How do we do this?
By the renewing of the mind.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
You might ask what the mind has to do with a spiritual wound. I’d argue that’s exactly where the spiritual wound’s hold over you is housed. Sure, your everything hurts from what’s been wrongly done to you, or because of the self-inflicted pain... And it’s our fleshly desire to become mired in self-pity. However, when we focus on our own pain, we open ourselves up to the enemy because we’re then dwelling on the hurt instead of believing in the healing. But we can come against him by focusing on the things of God and what He’d have us do while awaiting our healing.
The last thing the evil one wants is for us to get our eyes and mind off of SELF and start ministering to others in Christ’s name.
So guess what?
That’s exactly what we must do!
3. MONITOR THE WOUND
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
- 1 Peter 5:8-10 (KJV)
No different than any physical injury, when our spiritual wounds aren’t closely monitored, we run the risk of infection. Infection can quickly spread to the rest of our lives, poisoning our faith and our relationship with Him and with others. When this happens, we’re destined for more of the same—more chronic spiritual wounds and the inability to experience liberty in Christ.
The enemy would love nothing more than for us to keep dwelling on the injustice that we’ve endured, to infect us with more anger, hurt, and doubt of our own healing. This is how he attempts to talk us out of surrendering our pain to God so that we would receive healing. He knows that when our wounds are truly healed that we’ll give glory to God and no longer be in bondage to him.
For our wounds to heal completely, we not only have to continue the process of cleansing and protecting until they become scars, but we also have to monitor our wounds, closely examining them for the first signs of infection.
If you’ve been suffering from a chronic spiritual wound and doing your best to hide it—even from God—it’s time to ask for healing. Confess any unforgiveness and lay your pain at His feet.
Trust the Great Physician for healing.
Then ready yourself, my friend, to proudly wear your scar as a beautiful badge, a testimony to Him. For by The Master Surgeon’s hands, your wounds have been closed!
Photo credit (QuotesGram Clara Moore) "Combat Medic Quotes"
“Army Combat Medic Statue.”Mark Bonica Flickr, 2010, https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrEzODXcpNexyYAixyjzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/RV=2/RE=1586750295/RO=11/RU=https://www.flickr.com/photos/23119666@N03/5242706570//RK=2/RS=tvCkxOnXgjSzpcpjlCj6E92TtkU-.
“Combat Medic Quotes.”QuotesGram, https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrJ4NbOdZNe8PUASzejzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/RV=2/RE=1586751054/RO=11/RU=http://quotesgram.com/combat-medic-quotes//RK=2/RS=hcATJ.oepnJ6AiUnm5qr9x9db3g-.