The Process of Hope and Healing
To grow and become the person Christ intends for us, several factors must be present. These factors are not steps we can accomplish one right after the other. They are ingredients that promote growth when they all work at the same time and over a period of time. These factors include:
• Affirming relationships
• Right thinking
• The Holy Spirit
We can experience healing only to the degree that we are aware we need it. If we are completely unaware of our dishonesty, we won’t seek a solution. If we have only a dim awareness of our dishonesty, we may seek (and find) remedies that only scratch the surface of our need.
But if someone encourages us to be honest at a deeper level about our painful needs, then we can experience the power of healing and comfort at the particular level.
Honesty helps us go beyond a surface awareness of our need to deal with healing at a deeper level. The Lords wants us to be honest with ourselves, with Him, and with at least one other person. We need honesty in our lives because it is the first important step toward healing and maturity and helps us go beyond surface awareness.
If none of the people around us tell us otherwise, we may believe we are completely honest about ourselves. We think we’re objective-able to look at ourselves with an open mind.
Those of us from relatively stable backgrounds usually find it easier to be honest about the joys and pain in our lives. Some of us, however, come from dysfunctional families and have experienced tragedies that have caused deep wounds. These experiences prompt us to put up defenses designed to block pain.
Defensive barriers often keep us from seeing problem areas in our lives. To those who sincerely ask, God gives increased understanding in order to determine what parts of our lives need change or adjustment.
Without some affirmation from others, people seldom have the courage to be honest about their lives. The love, strength, and honesty we find in other people truly are Godlike traits.
A friend, a small group, a pastor, or a counselor who won’t be frustrated by our slow progress and who won’t give us a quick and easy solutions is a valuable find! This person can listen to us instead of lecturing us. This friend will not jump to making judgmental statements about what we say.
Of course, we must use good judgment about what and with whom we share. Pray that God will provide a person or group of persons with whom you can be open and honest, who objectively can listen to you and share with you, and who will encourage you to make real, rather than surface, progress. This type of person truly is a treasure!
More of the Process
Many of us don’t know what we really believe about God and about ourselves. We often say what we don’t mean and mean what we don’t say. God’s Word is our guide for truth. It is truly “a lamp to our feet and light to our path” (Psalm 119:105). Yet we often have trouble applying the Scripture to our lives because over the years we have structured so many elaborate defenses to protect ourselves.
We must realize that God speaks to us through Scripture to identify and attack these defensive barriers. We can experience an open and honest relationship with God. Growth includes understanding more about God’s love, forgiveness, and power.
As God speaks to us through the Scripture, we learn about life, where our views are in error, and how to correct our faulty perceptions so that we continually experience the process of growth. This verse from Hebrews describes just how powerful Scripture can be in our lives.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” -Hebrews 4:12-13
The Holy Spirit Helps Us Grow
Deep spiritual growth requires giving attention to the whole person emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual. God gives us the Holy Spirit to communicate His love, light, forgiveness, and power. These qualities minister to our deepest needs. This spiritual aspect of healing is the most basic aspect of growth because our view of God (and our relationship with Him) determine the quality and degree of health we experience in every area of our lives.
Some of us believe that only positive, pleasant emotions like love and joy characterize the Holy Spirit’s ministry. However, the Holy Spirit produces honesty and courage in our lives as we grapple with the reality of pain. This is one of the miracles of the Holy Spirit’s work! He is the Spirit of truth, not denial. He enables us to experience each element of spiritual growth as He gives us wisdom, strength, and encouragement through God’s Word and through other people.
The Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual wisdom, insight, and power. He uses the Word of God and the people of God to instruct us and to model for us the character of Christ.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world is unable to receive because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. –John 14:16-17,HCSB
Give Growth Time to Bring Fruit
Don’t we sometimes wish we were computers so that solutions to our problems would occur in microseconds? People, however, don’t change that quickly.
In the Scripture we see many references to agriculture. The Scripture depicts seasons of planting, weeding, watering, growing, and harvesting. Farmers don’t expect to plant seeds in the morning and harvest their crops that afternoon. Seeds must go through a complete cycle of growth before they mature. They receive plenty of attention in the process.
In this age of instant coffee, microwave dinners, and electronic banking, we assume that spiritual, emotional, and relational health will be rapid also. These unrealistic expectations only cause discouragement and disappointment.
Our growth will be stunted and superficial if we don’t emphasize properly the essential five elements: honesty about our emotions, affirming relationships, right thinking promoted through Bible study and applying the Bible to our lives, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and time.
Our growth toward wholeness and maturity is a journey which we can’t complete fully until we join the Lord in Heaven. The apostle Paul understood this truth and saw himself as being in the middle of this process. He wrote about this to the believers at Philippi.
If Paul, the foremost missionary and writer of much of the New Testament, saw himself as being “in the process,” we can feel encouraged to continue in the process toward change as well.
“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:12-14
Self-Worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions
When you equate your self-worth with performance and others’ opinions, you are judging yourself based on a satanic formula designed to enslave you in the performance trap. Thankfully, God has canceled this equation altogether! He has given us secure self-worth totally apart from our ability to perform. We have been justified and placed in right standing before God through Christ’s death on the cross, which paid for our sins. But God didn’t stop with our forgiveness; He also granted us the very righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21)!