Caring about others makes you vulnerable in many ways. The hurts our friends receive hurt us too. We rise to their defense. Those are hurts that can accomplish good. They make us love harder and share one anothers’ burdens. We grow in strength together.
There are other shared hurts that can be deadly. Our friends’ weaknesses can partner with our own and pull us both into deeper troubles.
But there’s an even greater vulnerability of friendship. Sometimes friends directly hurt us…they betray us, accuse us of wrong, deceive us or abandon us. The one we stood by leaves us high and dry. The one we defended attacks us.
Those wounds are deep. Does it seem odd that the wisdom of Proverbs says it is good?
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful. Proverbs 27:6
All hurts have the potential to open our heart to new depths of Christ’s healing love. Every wound has the possibility that Joseph declared in Genesis: ‘You meant it for evil but God meant it for good…for the saving of many lives.’ When we take our wounds to the Healer, new legacies are born…eternal promises unfold.
One wound we all share is the grief when a loved one dies. As I write this, my own heart aches at the loss of a precious 21 year old. A young man with a gentle and kind heart who had a smile for everyone he met. A young man who fell into the bondage of addiction; a young man whose life was stolen away. He left behind many wounded, crying hearts. My hope-filled prayer is that his chains will open the way for many to experience the truth of his favorite song.
At first glance, the song is a cruel irony. This young man loved Jesus, yet his chains were not broken. Some might think Jesus was not a faithful friend or that the devil and drugs had more power. Those are lies. The devil is a defeated foe; an earthly life was taken, but seeds for eternal life were sown. The unbroken chains of my young friend (whose own heart was broken by his own captivity) are piercing hearts that Jesus longs to heal.
Will we who know the Healer speak clearly about Jesus?
There is a desperate need in our world for loving, confident voices of hope. In Psalm 51, David–the man after God’s own heart–cried out in sorrow over his own sin but confidence in God’s kindness, “…a broken heart you will not despise” he says to God.
David understood that the walk of faith is not based on sinless perfection or the right actions of others. He also understood the pain of honest confession and the humility needed to receive God’s plan. The kindness of God does not create a sugar-coated, life of ease on earth.
The kindness of God brings about purposes of eternal good–and untangling our sins often creates heartaches. Faith does not always know ‘why’ but it understands heartache prepares ground for the good purposes of God!
God does what it takes to draw hearts to Him. Horribly hard consequences came from the sin David wept over. God forgave him but warned him a sword would slash through his family. The consequences, though, didn’t wipe out the promises made to David decades before::
“…the LORD himself will establish a house for you…I will raise up your offspring…and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, he will be my son….My love will never be taken away from him…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever…” 2 Samuel 7:12-17
God is faithful to His promises; we can reap the rewards of David’s promises too. Centuries after David died our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ entered his family. At least a dozen times, Scriptures refers to Jesus as the Son of David. God was faithful to His promise. The Messiah, Immanuel – God with Us – breaks legacies of sin when broken hearts are brought to Him for healing.
Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and give us abundant life. He died for our sins…and the hurts caused by sin. We are never more unfaithful to Jesus than when we fail to receive healing for our wounds.
The wounds of life have purpose and beautiful potential when we place them in the loving hands of Jesus.
When we hold on the hurts, our voices are silenced. We are like the addict, self-absorbed with meeting our own needs. We never mean to hurt another. We simply feel hopelessly trapped in our own hurt, clouded by our own questions. The lies of the enemy loom so large that we can’t see Jesus. We can’t give hope to others because we have not received it for our self! The life Jesus died to give us is silenced. We dishonor His work on our behalf; we are faithless friends.
Jesus shows us how to deal with unfaithful friends…with friends who use us, reject us, neglect us, abandon us. Jesus died for friends like that. He surrendered to the will of the Father; He lived out love to the end. We are not separated from His love by the heartaches of life IF we give them to Him. Then He plants His own life, and we become fields where hope blooms.