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We are wounded healers

To be human is to suffer pain, it’s to feel wounded and to struggle to get to a place of healing. No one is immune and some people have so much pain in their lives, you cringe and shake your head. For example, there’s Marvin, the Filipino boy in the picture here. He had Meningitis. His family had…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
To be human is to suffer pain, it’s to feel wounded and to struggle to get to a place of healing. No one is immune and some people have so much pain in their lives, you cringe and shake your head. For example, there’s Marvin, the Filipino boy in the picture here. He had Meningitis. His family had to continually pump an artificial breathing apparatus by hand to keep him alive. That’s what his father is doing in the picture.
Another example: I know a family of five, three of whom have had cancer, one of whom died. And the other two family members have had their own excruciatingly painful situations. What do you say to people whose every day is a struggle?

I don’t know what you do when you’re in the midst of it. It can feel like torture. My son Seth was there to watch Marvin slowly die. He tried to help – it ripped his heart open to see Marvin’s family without even $50 for medicine or, afterward, for a coffin (you can read his blog about it). 
I find it helpful to get the big picture. We have an enemy who hates us, who wants to destroy our families and us. We occupy a world where he contests our creator for everything. It’s a spiritual battlefield and we’re in the middle. Wounding happens, but so does healing – it happens all the time.

And as we get our own healing, we become candidates to help our creator in his vast project to rescue other people from their pain. When Jesus announced the beginning of his ministry, he named as his targets those who were in pain: the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed.

God knows our hurts and what they cost us. He honors our wounds by using them to heal others who are struggling as we have struggled. Nouwen says, “The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”

Of course Jesus is the original wounded healer. As Isaiah said, “He was bruised for our transgressions.” He didn’t just die on the cross for our sins, he lived a life of poverty. He was homeless. He was constantly being rejected. He was surrounded by pain and people asking him incessantly to help them get out of it. At the end, even his followers had turned their backs on him and he felt as though his Father had as well.

Jesus may not be healing us as fast as we want, but he understands our pain. He’s been there. It’s his intent to use it for good – to help heal others. When at last we join him as wounded healers, it’s a beautiful thing. In fact, when he uses your pain as his surgical tool to heal another, it becomes one of his greatest and most redemptive miracles.
So many wounds are emotional. Jesus will heal you if you’d let him touch your pain. And when he’s done working on you, he’ll draft you as a wounded healer. A good first step may be prayer – if I or any of my blog ministers can help, please reach out to us.

Comments (5)

  • I truly think that you can’t be a healer without being wounded first. If you have never suffered or acknowledged the stuff that hurts in your own life, you can only offer sympathy. Empathy comes when you know how those shoes fit and you can stand in them with understanding from the inside. I love that bit in Corinthians about God comforting us so that we in turn can comfort other people in their need.

    God is a give-it-away God. He gives it to you, you pass it on. But you have to let Him give it to you first. He has to go deep so that you can give deep away.

  • St. Mark of the Cross

    I love this post… Back in 1977 I was in a meeting with YWAM Hurlach, Germany. During the worship I saw a vision of an ugly heart, it looked like chopped meat, has an old shoe in it, it had a horrible odor coming from it, pieces of rusty metal, and other gross things! I said to the Lord, “What is that?” The response took me to my knees…he said to me, “…that is your heart,full of the hurts, rejections, guilt, shame, sin, lies, insecurities…” I started to weep, devastated, for it was before me, all that I had crammed deep into the abyss of my heart. I started wondering if I had any hope of being changed/healed. Then I saw a vision of a “new” heart. It looked like the heart on the end of the “I Love Lucy” show – it was bright red, shiny, full of life, and it was glowing with life. I did notice though that you could see the wound scars being healed, and in the middle of it there was a small trickle of blood. I cried out to the Lord “What is that?” He answered and said “Mark, that is your new heart that I am healing & creating, and the trickle of blood is the compassion you will have for others who are wounded.”

    Here I sit today…thankful for the wounds, for faithful are the wounds of my wounded-healer – JESUS. Love you all. St. Mark Romans 8:28

  • Amen to what you’ve said Seth … and to the other comments as well. They hit so close to my heart, I hardly know what else to say. Perhaps the only courage i got to face the pain of this past summer came from believing God could use it to heal not just me but others too. Much of that encouragement came from here – so thanks! Looking forward to being a wounded healer through Beauty for Ashes…

  • Urgh… what about my entitlement, though? When I am hurt I want to whine and cry so others will have compassion on me. The LAST thing I want is to focus on someone else.

    “Spirit, give me the courage to love when I don’t want to love tangibly, especially when tempted to make it all about me”

  • You know, for anyone interested I just listened to one of the best messages I have EVER heard by Graham Cooke – Why wounded and betrayed believers are so useful to God – it’s long but about every 5th or 6th sentence has such profound truth that I took 2 pages of single spaced, tiny font notes! God takes us down before He takes us up… and all about our cooperating with Him in the DISTRESS and DEVELOPMENT time so He can DEMONSTRATE what we’ve learned to others. He takes specific aim at our whining and complaining and kicking against the pricks of His process – which is so necessary 🙂 … I actually found it on someone else’s site, but if you want to contact me – [email protected] – I’d be happy to send the zipped file. I just had a wonderful, sweet, beautiful “come to Jesus” time with it!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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