Can These Wounds Be Healed?

Our reservation has been our home for many generations, and family ties are strong in our community. Our culture celebrates what each season brings, such as planting our corn, gathering and grinding acorns, and watching our grandchildren experience the fresh snowfall for the first time. Reflecting on these traditions reminds us of the wisdom shared with us by our elders. Most from outside our community will never fully understand or appreciate our way of life. Our honored values have been handed down from generation to generation.

Hidden from view are the wounds of abuse

Acorn and BasketSadly, some of our most cherished values are being violated today. Hidden from view are the wounds of abuse among us. Abuse—verbal, physical, and sexual—is uncomfortable for us to talk about. Fear of embarrassment, blame, retaliation, and shame causes many to suffer in silence. Wounds of abuse lead to unhealthy coping habits such as substance abuse. Addiction often becomes a way of life. Victims of abuse are found among our children, elders, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates. They desperately need our understanding, our support, and our protection. As a community, we must acknowledge and address any abuse of which we become aware. Trusted family members and tribal leadership must not tolerate abuse by looking the other way or making excuses. It is our responsibility to protect our vulnerable and to care for our wounded.

Victims of abuse should not suffer in silence

If you are among those who have experienced abuse, there are people who care about you. Victims of abuse should not suffer in silence. We must assist each other on our path to healing. Humanly speaking, it is beyond our comprehension to make sense of the wicked actions of others that have devastated our lives. But as we draw from our shared experiences and grow in our understanding, the truths of God’s Word can help us move forward one step at a time. It is this Source of comfort that we want to share with you.

True healing comes from our Creator

Apache girlsWe have found our hope and healing in our Creator. “My help comes from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). He knows what we feel, but more than that, He understands because He has experienced how we feel! He came from Heaven to live among us (John 1:14). He identified as one of us (Philippians 2:5-8). He felt the wounds inflicted by His own community (Mark 6:1-6). He suffered abuse at the hands of those who chose their own cultural traditions (Romans 1:16-25; Matthew 15:3,12-14) instead of His message of love (John 3:16-19). But it was God’s plan for His Son Jesus Christ to be rejected and wounded because His wounds were designed to bring true healing to all of us. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:3, 5).

Through His death on the cross, Jesus suffered in our place to take away our sin (Romans 3:23-24). God demonstrated His power to forgive sin when Jesus arose from the grave (Acts 3:15; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He did this because He loves us (Romans 5:8). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). The rituals of religion are truly empty without a relationship with God through Jesus Christ (John 14:1-6). Through Jesus Christ we can have great peace with God. This is how true healing begins.

You can open your heart to God

Our Creator is a personal God. We can approach Him in prayer. God is in touch with our feelings. He yearns for us to  “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). “Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). God listens when we pray in faith. The specific words of prayer are not as important as the attitude of the heart. You can open your heart to God in prayer and know that He is listening.

Dear God, Thank you for giving your innocent Son Jesus Christ to be wounded for me on the cross. I ask you to heal me of the wounds to my heart. I turn from my way to your way (repentance). Please give me a new life (a relationship). Forgive me of my sin (confession). I accept your forgiveness which is promised in the Bible. I believe and place my trust in You (faith). I receive your free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.”

God invites us who are suffering to “commit the keeping of (our) souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (I Peter 4:19). No matter what pain we experience in this life, God will never leave us or betray our trust (II Corinthians 12:9). The healing process takes time. Our Heavenly Father is there for us every day and welcomes us to share our inner sorrow. He listens to our prayer as we cry out to Him. We can bring our worries to God because He cares about us. Christ’s wounds have made it possible for us to come before our gracious and merciful Creator (Hebrews 4:15-16). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

He will finish His good work in you

A vital part of our healing is knowing that our sovereign God is committed to fulfill His purpose in our lives. We are created in God’s image and designed to bring glory to Him. We are valued and loved.  He will bring to completion the good work that He has begun in our lives. “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). God does not intend for us to live in defeat “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). Our victory isn’t based on what others do, but on what Christ has done. By having a relationship of trust with God, we can transfer the responsibility for any punishment to God. His perfect justice will prevail even when human governments and judicial systems fail to bring evildoers to justice (Romans 13:4). Justice will be served in God’s time frame. Our God is a God of justice (Psalm 37:5-8). “My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).

Our healing can give hope to others

Apache GrandmotherThe God of all creation is also the God of all comfort. The suffering that we have experienced in our past now connects us with all victims of abuse. We have a voice to share a truly life-changing message. “…the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Corinthians 1:3-4). In God’s strength we can begin a new life that is birthed out of a season of great sorrow. God’s Word gives us the confidence to share these precious promises with others who have been wounded like us (I Peter 3:15). Our new life is in Christ, and through His suffering, the wounds of our hearts can be healed.

 

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7