"to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations."
-- Isaiah 61: 3-4
As joyful and beautiful and wonderful as life is sometimes, life is also hard. We end up with bumps, bruises, and injuries. To move forward from that pain we have to go through a healing process—to get to the joy, the beauty, the splendor. But the process of healing is painful.
We expect that healing will feel good. We expect that we will finally get relief from the pain, that we will be as good as new, and that we will be instantly fixed. We think of the healing process—especially emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—like we are going to a nice day spa, with calming music in the background, people waiting on us hand and foot, feeling relaxed and like we’re at peace with the world.
Healing hurts. Sometimes we have wounds that are festering, that are deep inside of us. The only way to heal those wounds is to cut them open, clean them out, and stitch them back up—which is incredibly painful. When it comes to physical injuries, we have to heal them, right? We have a broken leg or an infected cut or anything like that, it is obvious. We have to get it fixed to function in our daily lives. So, we suck up how much it hurts and go through the healing process. Even physical therapy after injuries is hard, painful, and seems like it isn’t worth it anymore.
Emotional, mental, and spiritual pain are much harder to see yet they affect our lives just the same if not more so than physical injuries. Bitterness, anger, judgment, betrayal, trauma, and un-forgiveness rot inside of us. They end up seeping into all avenues of our lives, much like infections do. Yet, the process to excise these things from our hearts, minds, and souls is so very painful.
The process is worth it though. God, in His ever lovingkindness, sits with us in the pain. He is the ultimate Healer, the Great Redeemer. He takes our wounds, our pain, our strife, and He binds it up. He is near the brokenhearted. As we let Him heal our hearts, we find that we draw closer to Him, our hearts open up, and we find freedom that wasn’t there before. He turns our mourning into praise, a crown of beauty instead of ashes.
Keep in mind, the process is a lot of work on our parts. We still have to show up, process through the pain, work through it, and be willing to let things go. We don’t get to say a single prayer and find that all of our issues, hurts, and pains are miraculously gone (that does happen, but it’s rare). We have to fight for our own health and healing.
After the pain, after the healing, after the tears, and the “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” feeling, after all of that, we find what we have longed for this whole time: peace, love, joy. After we have our wounds exposed, cleaned out, and stitched back up, that chronic emotional pain is no longer there. We feel lighter, breath deeper, and find more peace and joy. We are stronger, steadier, and more confident. We become fuller versions of ourselves. We fought for our healing just like Jesus found, died, and rose again for our healing.