We are always happy to see a wound heal. After carefully treating it–whether that means timely stitches or just the careful application of antibiotic ointment and faithful changing of dressings–to have a cut or incision heal properly without becoming infected makes us breath a sigh of relief.
I’ve spent the last half-hour hurting with a mom who prepared to watch her son die in a desert place, desolate and without water, as she herself was. I’ve just read the account of Hagar and Ishmael being sent away from Abraham’s household after the birth of the heir of promise, Isaac. God came to her with provision and comfort at the peak moment of her excruciating pain in this situation. (Read Genesis 21 for the full account.)
This related verse from Psalm 147 was included in the study I was working my way through: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I immediately thought of a friend who recently lost his beloved wife. He is very openly sharing his grieving and healing journey as he begins to discover what “new normal” looks like. As I’ve observed him and as I ponder this verse, several thoughts about healing come to mind:
- No matter how deep the wound, generally, given enough time, a degree of healing can happen when health exists. As long as we walk in this world, broken hearts and wounds will dot the landscape. Often, our encounters with them are unavoidable and not of our choosing. Yet, if we are living in health–health of body, mind, and most importantly, spirit–our chances for healing increase.
- Even when the wound comes to a less-than-healthy body, there is much that can be done externally to fortify and restore so that healing may happen. Sometimes, when non-physical wounds happen, we are concurrently not at a place of health, with the circumstances that result in the wounding already having worn us down. I’m guessing that it is not very common for a severely wounded person to reject the person who applies pressure to stop the bleeding, who calls 911, or who stays nearby to soothe until help arrives. In our places of woundedness and brokenheartedness, God has a way of providing aid that rushes in when we are too weak to help ourselves. In those moments, our role is to acquiesce in quiet gratitude and to embrace what is offered for our stabilization and beginning of restoration.
- The fact that a heart can break, that a wound can bleed, shows that life is present. We do not worry about mending a broken rock. But, where there is life, there is hope. The Healer of broken hearts is Hope. His faithful monitoring of our healing hearts, through the breath and heartbeat of truth by His Holy Spirit, progresses us to a place of renewed health and strength. His binding tenderly protects the wounded places, cushioning the blows that come through daily living while time does its healing work.
- Once-broken hearts and healed wounds leave their scars. A scar can be unsightly and may even cause some problems later on. But these can be tended to. They can also be reminders–reminders that so far, as I read on a Facebook “poster” yesterday, we have a 100% record of coming through the hard times–because we are still here.
Hagar was sent away at least twice that we read of. Both times, God met her with provision and the healing balm of assurance that she was seen and known and that God’s plan for her and for her son was working itself out. I wonder if she would have chosen to trade the place of hostility and hurt she was experiencing in Abraham’s home for the personal, healing aid that God brought to her broken heart in the desert places.