“Did you know that it’s true, that for me and for you the world is a ghetto?” So in 1972, said the group appropriately named “War.” Closer to present, we are told “It’s a jungle out there, disorder and confusion everywhere… Better pay attention or this world we love so much might just kill you.” That’s from the theme song of “MONK,” the TV series debuting in 2002 about the loveable, OCD “defective detective.” And from the world of blues, pop, and Rock and Roll, take your pick. There’s a million and one songs all decrying relationships gone bad, saying in essence, “You done me wrong! Now, life ain’t worth the living.” So, it’s unanimous. Everybody with a heart in this world, knows what it’s like for that heart to be broken. Nobody makes it out of this world without a heartful of wounds, bumps, bruises, and scars.
By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop
This is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of Christian faith and existence. God, our heavenly father, through crushing trials, tribulations, and afflictons, actually works out the greatest blessings to be found in this life. How can that be?, you say. Well, because it opens the way for the eternal love of Christ, who died for our sins, to gain access to the hearts of others in this world, through us. He first ministers his love for us in the midst of our heartaches, then he ministers that love through our hearts to others. Love in, love out, makes for a much better world. Love begets love begets love – God’s winning formula.
In this world, our Lord Jesus did not have a good experience. Like so many poets, lyricists, and commoners like me and you have all well observed, life can deal us some knockout punches – some of which feel like they’ve knocked the life clean out of us. Listen, and take fully to heart, what the word foretold of Christ’s experience in this world.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted [for his own faults].
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him…
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted…
14 As many were astonished at thee; his [appearance] was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men [i.e., his body was so mangled]… (Isaiah 52:14)
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living… Isaiah 53:3-8, brackets mine
Yes, Jesus got a raw deal in this world. Life was not at all fair to him. People did him wrong in the here and now. He was tried by Govenor and Judge Pilate, questioned by him, then officially aquitted of all charges and even publicly pronounced “Not Guilty.” But then, for the sake of political expediency, He was put to death anyway. Who ever heard of such a thing? The last the world saw of him, he was being executed like a common criminal, horribly tortured, and spitefully taunted while hanging from a cross. Then, he died following a loud and anguished cry from his cross. And thus, he did not make it out of this world without the scars to show what he suffered. Scripture records,
“And one shall say unto him, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands?’ Then he shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’” Zechariah 13:6
Have you ever been wounded by your friends? When the people that you love and that are supposed to love you deal you a hurt or betrayal, they strike you where no other can strike you – in the very core of your heart. Those are the ones that go most deeply. Those are the wounds that are felt as the sharpest pain. I think it is most telling that the word leaves us a clue to the real nature of Christ’s suffering. It says,
“[God] shall make his SOUL an offering for sin.” Isaiah 53:10
It says, Christ’s “SOUL” was the real offering. In the Bible, “soul” is more closely identified with the heart than with the flesh. His body suffered, yes. But, more to the point, it was his heart which endured the premiere suffering. Rejection, spite, hatefulness, treachery, disloyalty, verbal and emotional abuse, betrayal: these all were what Jesus experienced during his brief sojourn through this life. And, we come to find out that even in his resurrection body and in heaven, where only love, and joy, peace and understanding abide, these have all been memorialized in his body. Again, the scripture records in John 20,
20 And when [Jesus] had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Scars do not form on a corpse, but on a living human being. Likewise, when God is in our hearts, our wounds in life only make way for the resurrection power and presence of God to form an eternal scar in its place, thus exposing the life of the God whose presence has now taken over within us. That holy and internal scar over our hearts is nothing short of the glory of the indwelling God, welling up from within to combat the damaging effects of this world. A body that does not form such scars has no life, and no power to offer others. If you are to be a maximum blessing to others, you must have some scars and STRIPES on display in your life to offer the hope of God to others. The abiding presence of the scars only memorialize the holy and boundless love existing behind them. The scripture said of Christ, “With his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Every good Christian soldier ought to be worth his STRIPES. “S.T.R.I.P.E.S” really are:
S piritual, T estimonies, R eporting, I ndividual, P ainful, E xperiences, & S uffering
So, take the time and the mind to understand this: the resurrection power to heal and recover us of all our heart wounds in life, is really nothing less than the abiding, living presence of the eternal God within us. Scripture says, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). He responds to all injurious and painful experiences in our life, by proportionately increasing the fullness of our knowledge of his love for us. And that abiding love in us, is what attracts and helps with the healing processes of others, as well. As the word records in Romans 5:3-5 (brackets mine),
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad [that is, administered throughout abundantly] in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Finally, the scripture asks the searching question, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22). The old negro spiritual jubilantly responds: “There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” Yes, there is a doctor in the house – the Chief Physician, Dr. Jesus. And, there He administers a balm abundantly – the love of God our Father. That loves gives us wholeness, soundness, comfort, clarity, peace, perspective, and a generalized feeling of wellbeing. If there seems to be a problem with the healing, then we have either one of two problems. Either we have not allowed for enough time, or we have not applied the right mind. But you may be sure, there is a doctor in the house.
Perhaps, your heart too has been battered and bruised in this world. I would be surprized if you say that it hasn’t taken some hard knocks. Well, if it has, or even if you just want to have the doctor in residence and on call, then I have just the words you need. Please pray the following suggested prayer.
Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.
Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.
For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000
If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,
Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.
For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000
For more inspiration, go to: www.facebook.com/newjudah2 .