Lord, heal broken hearts this morning. Set free anyone bound by chains of bitterness and unforgiveness. Pour the oil of joy upon all who are hurting. Clothe them in a garment of praise. Make them well, no matter the injury. No matter how deep or extreme the offense, abuse, loss, or disappointment. You are sufficient. You are THE answer. Thank you, Lord.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen the movie October Baby and don’t want to know how it ends, go rent it (you absolutely must), and read this later.
Absorbing the magnitude of the messages of October Baby, I lingered for a moment in my recliner. Truth be known, I was attempting to collect my emotions in order to simply speak. It is a heartbreaking, heartwarming story of a nineteen-year-old girl who discovers her health and emotional struggles could be the result of having survived a failed abortion. Convinced her whole life has been a lie, she and a hilarious mix of characters embark on a road trip to find her birth mother. When she does, the woman still doesn’t want anything to do with the daughter. You will laugh. You will cry. You will be changed.
When my throat relaxed enough to allow sound to pass, I answered my daughter’s question: “Why couldn’t they just let the mom and daughter be together? That stinks!” After thinking for a moment, I responded, “Maybe it’s to show people that forgiveness and healing are possible even if the offending person doesn’t make it right in the end.” Her mom never did, yet, the abortion victim forgave, and she was free. Because of her faith and her obedience, she was truly free.
Truth is, you really don’t need anyone else to do anything for you in order to forgive. You just need Jesus. Like the woman with the issue of blood who said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well” (Matthew 9:21). She had faith that just touching the hem of Jesus’ garment would be enough. She had desperate faith that it’s Jesus or nothing. Everything and everyone else had failed. Mark 5:26 tells us she “had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.” Doctors had failed. Treatments had failed. It was Jesus or hopelessness.
It was the same for me.
Years ago, traveling alone, I pulled out the book my Christian psychiatrist recommended I work through to find truth and healing from the lingering mental bondage of my eating disorder, unnerving fits of terror that would wake me bolt upright after falling asleep at night, and panic that would overtake me in certain situations. I was desperate. I felt as though it was all connected. Tentacles of a single source. If I could identify the source, then perhaps freedom would follow. If I could make out details in the blackness of my childhood memory, maybe I would know the why of some of my struggles and be healed. If I could sort through the sick feeling that accompanied memories of one particular house, perhaps I would discover the key to my inexplicable oddities.
As I sat poised to work through a few pages of the book, heaviness hovered. It happened every time I unfolded the pages. A foreboding. Darkness. It was tangible. I felt as though I was forcing myself down an eerily endless tunnel into a nightmare. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t know a different way. My relationship with the Lord was growing stronger, but I still turned to the wisdom of this age and of the rulers of this age in an attempt to find immediate relief.
Pen in hand, ready to work through the next psychoanalytical, get-in-touch-with-your-inner-child exercise, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart: “You don’t have to do this to be healed. You don’t have to remember to experience my total deliverance. This book won’t heal you. I will. If there’s something you need to know, I will reveal it to you. If not, you don’t need to seek it out.”
That moment, I closed the book, never to open it again. I believed what the Holy Spirit revealed to me in that moment, and I was free. Healed. It was instantaneous. Like the woman with the issue of blood. Thoughts of “What if?” no longer haunted me. I knew the truth, and it had set me free. Not the truth as the world defines it. Knowledge of what, if anything, might have happened to me was not the truth I needed. I just needed to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. I needed only to believe that He alone has my answers and IS my answer.
It wasn’t necessary for the mother to make right her wrongs in order for the daughter to experience healing and freedom. It was only necessary for Jesus to heal her and enable her to forgive. Jesus died for our sins while we were yet unborn. He forgave before we were ever living beings that could seek His forgiveness. It is not necessary for me to know if something happened to me in order to live free in Christ. It is only necessary for me to know Jesus. To place my faith in Him. To receive the free gift of salvation.
In a way, we’re all born October babies. Just as Hannah was the target of a killer before she was even born, 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Just as Hannah was separated from her mother the moment she left the birth canal, our sin separates us from our heavenly Father the moment we are born until we come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Just as Hannah was adopted by loving parents, we are adopted by grace through faith into God’s family. We become His children and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ. Just as Hannah suffered the lingering effects of the attempt on her life, we too may struggle through lingering effects of the sin nature with which we’re born. Lingering effects of the enemy’s attacks.
Isaiah 53:5 foretells of Jesus, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” First Peter 2:24 reports the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”
Not only that, but Isaiah 61:1-3 details the glorious benefits of having Jesus as our Savior:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Our broken hearts are healed. We are freed from the things that hold us captive. Chains that bind us are broken. We are comforted when we mourn. We are given beauty for ashes. We are doused with joy even in the most tragic times. He clothes us in praise when our hearts are heavy. Our feet are planted firmly in Him. Deep roots anchoring us, unmovable. Unshakable.
Perhaps something unimaginable happened to you as a child. Or as an adult. Someone violated you. Someone rejected or abandoned you. Deep down, where only the touch of God can reach, you are hurt. Bad. Maybe you, too, have nightmares. Foreboding. Certain circumstances set off uncontrollable panic. Maybe, like me, you can’t even remember.
Do you want what Jesus offers? There is healing. You, too, can hear the words of Jesus, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well” (Matthew 9:22).
Let go. Go to God and pray. And “when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6). Forgive in that secret place. Place your faith in the truth of God’s word. Live free in Christ.