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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Wounded Healer

I have just started reading a book titled "The Wounded Healer" by Henry Nouwen.  This book's title has always captured by attention so I finally bought it and started to read it.  The introduction asserts that if we (e.g. ministers, pastors) are to serve others, we need to be the "wounded healers."  In other words, as believers we can help others more effectively when we ourselves have experienced pain. Only then can we sympathize, empathize with others and help minister to them along the way.

As I thought of this, I thought of our "Wounded Healer," Christ.  In Isaiah 53:4 it says he was wounded for our transgressions, "bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."  This was no accident. It was God's plan. It is only through his sacrifice that we could be redeemed from sin (Ephesians 2:13). Our High Priest not only suffered but was tempted so that he could sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15). For us, modern people of the 21st century this concept seems strange. Why such aggression? Why so much pain to save us? Scripture is clear that this is the cost of sin. Sin is cannot merit anything less when measured against God's holiness.But the idea of wounded healer does apply to us. 1 Peter 4:1 says "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin" (NIV). As Christ followers, we ought to expect suffering and pain. The Apostle Paul said that we must experience much hardship to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). We participate in Christ's sufferings when we experience this (Philippians 3:10) and ought to consider this a privilege.

In my pilgrimage as a Christian, which now is almost 30 years, I have experienced much wounding. Some has come from other believers, some from those who see me as a threat for being a different (i.e. Christian), some from unexplained circumstances, some from just being human and some from my own sinfulness.  It is in these times when my faith has grown as  I have sought to depend on my Wounded Healer.  Every piercing has become a time to know intimately my wounded Savior.  My scars become his scars. He bestows his grace on me and helps me lean on His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27)

Yes, all of this is counter culture. Our culture tells us to run away from suffering and pain; to avoid it at all cost.  We often hear good positive sermons to encourage us to imitate Christ in his life but not very often to imitate his suffering and death. Who wants this? But it is only when we become like our Wounded Healer that we are able to experience his power in us (the power of his resurrection according to St. Paul) and we are able to help those in need. This is the paradox of Christianity. It confounds the wise of this world because it does not follow the ways and thoughts of the world. But the ways of the Lord are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

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