The Wounded Healer (or, The Gift of Affliction)

S (Scripture): 2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. 6 If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

8 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, 11 as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

O (Observation): What Paul has received in terms of consolation from The Lord, he feels he has received in order to console others.   He knows what defeat and failure look and feel like.   He’s been down in the duldrums before…and only God carried him through (sometimes directly, sometimes through his peers).   

Most importantly for Paul, he sees each failure and each need for consolation as a training of sorts.  He will receive consolation, so that when he sees others who need consolation, he will recognize their need and give consolation freely and with heart.  His example of a need for consolation while doing ministry in Asia is a great example of his need for such consolation.  

His kairos (a calling to do mission work in Asia) had a cross (afflictions).   

A (Application):  Wounded Healer is a book written by Henri Nouwen.   In this book, he describes the connection between a healer and the wounded person to which the healer tends.  

The connecting point between wounded and healer is the wounds each person brings into the relationship.   The healer is one who has also been wounded, but has had time to heal.   The wounded has a fresh wound.  The wounds need not be similar in type or nature, but the simple fact that one is wounded is enough of a connecting point.  

One can help another heal only when the healer has been wounded and healed.  (Yes, being healed is a lifelong process.   But one must have been through some life experience of being wounded and healed to be helpful to another who has fresh wounds.)  Over time, the healer will realize that the breadth of life experience (or lack thereof) is not a restraining factor.   The healer must meditate on the times and places in which they have been wounded and to meditate on who or what brought healing.   

As one is healed, just as with Paul, you can tap into that gift of the affliction…indeed, it is now a gift, because you have been graced through the wound, and you can now share your journey with the wounded, not necessarily to heal them, but to walk alongside them, and let God heal them.   

I wish for no one to be afflicted, and yet, this side of the Kingdom…we will receive wounds.  So, the work of healing is the gift we receive.  And we receive this because we will all have been afflicted at some point, as Paul points out.  And while we don’t celebrate the affliction, we see the usefulness of being brought through the affliction, so that we can pass on the gift of consolation with others who are afflicted…rather than judging them for their affliction.  

This whole devotion points to the fact that pastoral care is and can be done by any believer in Christ.   We have all been healed and are being healed every day.   While a pastor receives training for pastoral care…the care can be given by anyone.  

Is a member in the hospital?  Go and visit with them for about 10-15 minutes.  Let them know you’re thinking about them.  Or at least send a card or an email.   Console them.  

Is a member going through a family transition?   Let them know that you are there to listen or take them out to lunch or for some coffee.  Console them.  

Is your child or spouse going through a difficult time?   Don’t offer to solve their problems.  Sit with them.   Console them.   

Afflictions are not caused by God, but God can and does redeem afflictions that we might know what it means to be consoled.  Jesus bore our afflictions and received new life from God.   Jesus, our healer and consoled knows what it means to be wounded…and to be healed.  

See what new life God might bring through you as you console someone around you who is wounded.  
P (Prayer): Lord, heal us from our wounds, that we might be a vessel of new life for the wounded around us.  Amen. 


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