Psalm 32 (NIV)
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart.
Soon after my first therapy session for PTSD, in which the traumatic memory cocoon that had held me captive was broken open, I attended a church service that spoke of God’s unbelievable sovereign timing. The co-pastor of my church gave a musical sermon, where he sung and played his guitar. One song after another spoke of the transformation God has been working in my life. He spoke and sung of hiding, hiding the pain, the guilt and the shame. He spoke of fleeing from feeling the emotions pulsing through us, pressing them away and in so doing placing ourselves on an island, far from community, love, physical and spiritual nourishment. He spoke of learning to accept the love that is held out to us, the call to come out of hiding, of learning to let God walk us through the pain in our lives, rather than praying that He would take it from us.
He also spoke of his work as a physio and how the only person who he was never able to help heal from an injury, was a Christian who asked him to pray for God to remove it, rather than to trust our co-pastor that healing would come through trusting him through the pain. And that story brought it home in a big way.
Somehow, I think I expected as a young Christian that pain should not be a part of the journey. Wasn’t our God a God of healing, of strength of power? And now I hear Him saying: “But Anna, if I take it all away, how can you learn to lean on, feel safe and become confident in my strength, in my healing, in my power? And how can others see my strength, healing and power in the transformation I am working? Have I not called you to take up your cross, to give witness to your weaknesses, your limitations, so that My strength, My power can be revealed?”
How many times have I berated myself for being angry, being deeply hurt by what others have said, done or not said and done in their silence? How many times have I attempted to play God, to make myself believe I shouldn’t feel exactly what I am feeling because it is bad, wrong, ungodly and in so doing become despairingly depressed. But, as our co-pastor told us today, God wants us to face up to our humanity by admitting exactly what we are feeling, however horrendous we feel that may sound. For as he rightly pointed out, God sees it anyway and the more we also become real with others who are trying to walk in faith, to admit our shortcomings to them, the more loved and accepted they will feel in our midst, the more our community will become a community, rather than just a large group of individuals standing next to each other on a Sunday.
And this is something I also saw in my therapy session. I saw and heard God calling me to be angry, really angry, to be a toddler throwing a full tantrum. He was showing me and telling me: “You are my child, I am your Father. You are a sinner, I am your redemption. You are broken and hurting, I am your wholeness and healing. You are a ball of anger, guilt and shame, I am the one who will hug you tight, soothe and pat your little head until the anger, guilt and shame subside, and not just once, but every single day. Be real and I’ll become more real to you. Reveal your true self and I’ll show you just how awesome and all-powerful I am. I will turn your ashes into life, your brokenness into mended beauty, your loneliness into a grafted-in part of my Body, my Father’s Large and Beautiful Body of Love, Grace and Acceptance. And the smaller you get, the more childlike you become, the more My Radiance will shine, the more My Fragrance will be released, the more My will will be done until My Kingdom will be revealed in all its Glory. Didn’t I say, let the little children come to me, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven?
Come to me, my child. Come sit on my lap, come rest your head on my shoulder, come and surrender all and I will show you just how far and wide and deep my love is for you.”
Isaiah 43 : 19
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
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