We all realize there are areas of our lives that need special healing from God. How does God respond to those kinds of problems and issues?
How many of you have ever been to Mount Rushmore? Been over to the national park there and museum over in Mount Rushmore, Rapid City, maybe attended the Feast in the old days in Rapid City? Wonderful, beautiful area, the Black Hills. Went there many years ago. Went to the national museum there, and one of the things that the national museum really struck me - and it wasn't the faces on the side of the hill - at the museum - I don't know if any of you have ever seen this, but at that museum, they had cross sections of trees. So they had cut down these giant trees from the area. They were these Ponderosa Pines, and they had cut them down, and they had these small cross sections. They were probably about that thick, and they had these huge trunks of trees on display, and it was really amazing. It really caught my eye, because it showed the years on those cross sections of trees.
And this one really was amazing, because it started at the very middle. They had a date on when that tree was really starting out, when it began to grow. You know what that date was? It was 1474, 1474 that this Ponderosa Pine had really begun to grow. Now, that just was - I couldn't believe that. You're kidding me? And then they showed all these various dates almost all the way up to the present. It was really phenomenal. So I'm thinking wow! That's when Michelangelo was alive, you know. 1474, da Vinci was alive. 20 years before Columbus sailed, and yet here was a record within the core of this tree.
And as you followed these rings throughout all the years, you could see when there was just a terrible drought. It was just no water at all and these rings were really, really tight together. And then there were other areas of the tree where you could tell it was way too much rain. And then, of course, there was a spot in this particular tree where they felt it had been struck by lightning. And then as you looked throughout the rings there were many years of just normal growth, as that Ponderosa Pine just continued to grow and expand and get bigger and bigger.
And then there were several places throughout that tree that had areas where fire had burned that tree. A couple of times it almost destroyed the tree. You could tell how it was burned all the way around. And then there were areas of blight, areas of disease. And in the very end, I think it went up to the very early '80s, that some kind of beetle actually destroyed the tree and killed the tree.
And so it's just so interesting to me as I looked at that and looked at all the various years, that embedded in the heart of this tree was the autobiography, I guess you could say, of its growth, the autobiography, the life of this tree, embedded in those rings.
And as I thought about that, it's kind of the way it is with us, isn't it? If you think about your life, what's there just beyond the outer bark? You know, we've got this protective bark on the outside of us. But when you just get beyond that, in some ways we have the rings of our life, don't we? Are there times that we have those painful hurts that are just beneath the bark, maybe scars, ancient hurts, old difficulties.
How about the time the school kids were making fun of you, maybe the way you dressed? Maybe you didn't get picked for the game. Yeah. Those are pretty simple things, maybe. But how about that divorce? Or that death in the family? Maybe that little boy running after an alcoholic father? What about an abusive family? Sexual abuse? Physical abuse? Trials and difficulties that you've gone through.
You know, we've all gone through some difficult circumstances. Maybe even more recent hurts, religious hurts, challenges that we've all faced. And these concepts and these feelings, these experiences affect - they affect us. Even though maybe we don't see it in our outer bark, it affects how we look at ourself, and sometimes it affects how others look at us as well.
And you know I've learned that just being converted, just because you're converted doesn't automatically solve those issues. Doesn't happen automatically, does it? It doesn't change things automatically. It doesn't take care of those emotional hangups that we have. Because when you face it, I think in one way or another, aren't we all damaged goods? Aren't we all that way in one way or another? Haven't we emotionally been damaged at some time in our life, and conversion doesn't equal an instant, automatic solution to those kinds of emotional problems. It's not a quickie cure for those kinds of problems. And so I think it's important to think about this for a moment, because we have to live with ourselves, don't we? We have to deal with those issues. And we have to allow God's Spirit to work in us to heal those hurts, to heal those difficulties.
And, you know, I think it's important as well that as we understand things on a deeper level, if we go beyond the bark, it will help all of us not to be so quick to judge others, not to be so quick to point our fingers at others, not to be so quick to unfairly criticize someone else who has gone through some challenging difficulties. You know, because someone's faced with issues doesn't mean they're phony or they're hypocrites or they're acting or they're too much of a fake, because that's not necessarily the case at all. There are hurts there are scars, maybe in a way wrong programming, and that can interfere with what we do. It can interfere with how we act. It can interfere with our behavior.
And so as you think about that, I think we all realize there are areas of our lives that need special healing from God. It can only come from God, because we've all been damaged. And I think as we begin to consider it, it's a hard issue. It's a hard issue, because I know I tend to oversimplify things. You ever find yourself in that situation, that we - we're faced with an issue that someone tells us about, and maybe we don't exactly know what to say, and so we just kind of give them the pat answer?
You say, "Well, pray more about that. Pray more about that." Or we say, "Well, read your Bible more. Read your Bible more." Or, "Fast more," or "Have more faith," or, "If you were closer to God, you wouldn't be having these problems." "Depressed people, you know, aren't close enough to God. You know, you shouldn't be having these kind of problems." You know, we - we oversimplify things.
And in reality, those kinds of things can - it can be cruel. It can be hurtful. It can pile even more on someone that's going through difficulties, that's struggling, that's in pain, that is facing a really deeprooted problem. And, so, then, we end up just adding more guilt. We add more despair on top of the initial problem. And so we can't just give a pat answer.
I had heard a story about this. It was about a person who got on an airline, and they serve lunch on this airline. It was an overseas flight. And this lady opened her meal. It had been sealed. And as she opened that meal, a roach ran out of the lunch. It was like, "Ahh." She was just totally disgusted. She was making all this noise. The stewardess runs over. She grabs the lunch and gets out of there. the lady finally gets home after her trip, and she's still just fuming about the fact that there was a roach in her meal. She just could not believe this. So she, you know, fires off a letter to the president of the airline just complaining about this, and just could not believe how terrible this airline would be to allow something like that.
So it was just a matter of days prior, the letter comes back from the president of the airline, and he goes on and on in this letter how sorry he is. You know, "I'm really upset of the fact that this happened to you." He said, "This is just highly unusual. I want to assure you that that plane has been completely fumigated. In fact, we stripped out the seats and the upholstery. We've taken absolutely every measure possible so that this would never happen again. And, in fact, we may discipline the flight attendant that served you the meal." And he went on and on about that. "We may have to take the plane out of service, because we want to make sure this never happens again. And we sure hope that you'll continue flying with us."
Well, she felt pretty good about that letter at first. Until she noticed on the back of that letter was a little Postit note that was handwritten, and scrolled on that little Postit note it says, "Reply with the standard roach letter."
I thought that story was a good one, because it sure makes the point that don't we sometimes just give the standard response? We really don't think through the situation. We really don't do much about it. We don't do much about it. But we already have an answer for it. But God has an answer. Over in Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
American King James Version× - sort of the theme scripture of the sermon today - God tells us about a different kind of response. Not just the standard roach response, but a different kind of response. Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
American King James Version×. How does God respond to those kinds of problems and issues? It says,
Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
American King James Version×Likewise the Spirit also helps in our infirmities, it's our weaknesses, our cripplings. Some translations say, the Spirit helps with that. It says, For we don't know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
V.27 Now he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
You see, God's Spirit can intervene. It can help us. It can help us in those infirmities. It can help us in those weaknesses. It can help us with those things that are just below the surface of that protective bark that we all have. And that word "help" there, "the Spirit helps," literally means it takes ahold of us. It takes ahold of us. It works with us. That we take hold of these issues together. That's what that word in Greek can mean, that the Spirit helps us. In fact, that word in ancient Greek was used also in a medical connotation. It had a medical application as well. They would use it to reference like a nurse, like a nurse would help in the healing process, that God's Spirit helps in that healing process. God's Spirit is our helper. It works alongside us so that we may be healed, and we need healing in a special way.
Remember what Christ said? Christ didn't just come to heal broken bones, did He? He said He came to heal the brokenhearted. Where do you put a bandage for that? You see, that's an emotional issue. That's a special kind of healing that's necessary. So if we think only of the exterior, if we only think of the outside, we're going to miss an entire aspect of what may be most important.
Some have said that the human personality consists of fourthfifths emotion and onefifth intellect. Now, I don't know if you can verify scientifically. But if that's the case, that means our decisions are based on 80 percent emotional and 20 percent intellect. So if we ignore emotion when we talk to someone, when we deal with different issues in our life, if we only deal with the facts, we could be missing 80 percent of the problem.
But God can help. God can send His Spirit to help in that healing process. Are we aware of that? How sensitive are we to the working of God's Spirit?
Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×goes to the core of the matter, like the rings in that tree. God helps in that healing process. He gets past the exterior. He gets past the outer bark, and he gets right to the core of those problems that we have and that we face in our everyday life. Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×, it says,
Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even into the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
See, God's Spirit gets right to the core of our very being. It goes on to say,
V.13 There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Oftentimes we take that very negatively, like, boy, I'm in trouble now. He sees everything, and He knows how I'm a sinner. Well, yes, that's true. That is absolutely true. But, really, that's not the intent of this passage here. This passage is telling us God's Spirit gets right down to the heart and core of our heart. Did you catch that at the end of verse 12? He gets right down to the thoughts and the intents of our heart.
What is our intent? He says,
V.14 We have a high priest, verse 14, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. And in verse 15:
V.15 We don't have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Who understands what we go through? Who understands what it's like to be alone? Who understands what it's like to be deserted? Who understands what it's like to be hurt? Christ does, Jesus Christ does.
And verse 15 reminds us, we have a high priest who's touched by our infirmities, by our weaknesses, by our shortcomings, by our cripplings, by our emotions. Christ is touched as High Priest with our infirmities.
Now, if you think of that word "infirmities," how is that connected in the Old Testament? When you think of the word infirmities, does something come to mind when you think of the old context of infirmities or something that is infirmed? Maybe what comes to mind is the whole sacrificial system. Maybe the Passover comes to mind. You know, at the Passover, could you take a lamb that was infirm and sacrifice it? No. No, that wasn't acceptable. And so when you think of infirmities in the Old Testament, you might think of that spot or that blemish or that defect or maybe some deformity.
And it wasn't necessarily just restricted to an animal. Certainly in the sacrifices you couldn't use an animal that had a spot or blemish or infirm or defect or deformity, but even if a person had a deformity. Now, imagine if you were a part of the priestly tribe of Aaron. You know that if a boy was born with an infirmity, even though he was of the priestly tribe, he would not be allowed to function as a priest, because that deformity would exclude him. He would be excluded from going into the presence of God and searching in the temple or the tabernacle because of that deformity. And so whether it was an animal or whether it was a person, if you're frail, if you're infirm, now, if you were weak, or you were feeble, you couldn't be used in the service of God, couldn't be offered to God.
Now, if we fast forward to the New Testament, think about the New Testament for a moment, what is the word "infirm" associated with in the New Testament? Well, it's not a physical thing any longer. It's not a physical infirmity. Now we see it used figuratively. Now its used as a figurative thing. It's interesting. It's strength. Is it talking about strength? Is it talking about weaknesses physically? Not in the New Testament. Not used that way in the New Testament anymore.
Generally, the New Testament, it's used in reference to emotional weaknesses or mental weaknesses or moral weaknesses, not physical strength. That's not usually what it talks about in the New Testament. We see that in the book of Hebrews. Right here in Hebrews, it's not talking about a physical problem, but it's talking about emotional difficulties and challenges. In the book of Hebrews is that book in the New Testament that's closest to Leviticus more than any other. It shows that sacrificial system and what it really means when we put it in a spiritual context. Old Testament priests had infirmities because they were human. Even though it didn't show on the outside, guess what? On the inside, they still had infirmities. In fact, God made up for that.
Didn't the high priest even in the Old Testament have to sacrifice an animal for himself and his own sins first, and then for the people's sins? The high priest should have understood that all the people have problems. We have weaknesses. We have things that we're all dealing with. And so the high priest should have understood that in the Old Testament, because he too had those weaknesses himself. And, of course, when we put it in a spiritual context, we all have weakness. We all have temptation. We all have sin.
Now, if you apply that to our High Priest, to our Spiritual High Priest, you apply that to Christ, He never sinned. He never fell short. He never yielded to temptation. He never had to make a sacrifice for Himself. Yes, He was tempted. Yeah, He was tried like we are. But notice verse 15 in Hebrews 4. He says,
Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
American King James Version×We do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
Did you catch that? It's really an amazing passage. He's touched with our infirmities. No, not just with our infirmities. If He only understood the fact that we have infirmities, well, that alone would be great, but it doesn't stop there. He understands the feelings of our infirmities. Not just the weaknesses, not just the things that cripple us, not just the defects or the faults or the shortcomings or the weaknesses. Not just those things. Not just the things that we fight within ourselves, these inner conflicts we have sometimes, and not just our emotions and not just our emotional hangups.
He just doesn't know those things. But, you know, He cares about them and He understands them. He understands them. He was affected with those same feelings. He can sympathize with us. He understands our pain. He understands our frustration. He understands what it's like. He knows pain. He knows isolation. He knows rejection. He knows depression. He knows what it's like to hurt and to be abandoned. He knows the feelings of our infirmities. So He knows the whole range of emotions that goes along with being human, and He fully understands it. He fully understands it. That's an amazing thing to think about for a moment. Jesus Christ fully understands us.
Reminded me of a story I heard about a guy named Charley Stienmetz. Charley Stienmetz, going back to the turn of the century, back until the early 1900s. He was a man who was really big in the electrical engineering field. He invented one of the very first motors that worked on electrical current, A.C., alternating current. So he was a biggie in the business. One of the interesting things about Charley Steinmetz was he was a midget, and, yet, he was a giant in the area of electrical engineering. Just an amazing man.
And the story goes that he helped Henry Ford set up his first plant where he had the assembly lines. And he hooked up all these big generators and all these things to get all that machinery to work. Well, as the plant was functioning evidently the motors went out, and Ford immediately put all the repairmen to work trying to find the problems and working with these things. And, for whatever reason, Ford's repairmen, they couldn't find the problem, couldn't sort it out. They couldn't fix those generators. So Ford was forced to call Charley Steinmetz in to tell us what the problem is.
So Charley Steinmetz comes, and he tinkers around a little bit. He's there about an hour, and tinkering here and tinkering there, and they flip the switch, and all the generators fire up after what seemed like a few minutes. So he was just fantastic. He was just elated about this whole thing, until a couple of days later Ford gets a bill from Charley Steinmetz. And it - now, you got to put yourself at the era that this happened, early 1900s. Ford gets a bill from Charley Steinmetz for $10,000. So he goes, "$10,000. That's ridiculous! I mean, you're here for a few minutes, you're tinkering over here, and it works. You're going to charge me $10,000 for that?"
Well, Charley Steinmetz, after Ford talked to him, sent him another bill. And he wrote on the bill, "For tinkering with the generators, $10. For knowing where to tinker, $9,990." And, evidently, Ford paid the bill. Now, I'm not sure that that is a true story. I've heard it may be more legend than story, but I think it makes a good point.
You know, how do we know that God feels our infirmities? How do we know that God knows where to tinker, in other words? How do we know that? Can we be sure? Can we have confidence in the fact that this is true, that God really truly understands our emotions and our feelings? Well, if we flip back just a little bit to Hebrews chapter 5:7, let's notice Hebrews 5:7 Hebrews 5:7Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
American King James Version×, it gives us confidence in the fact that God understands, and He knows us. Hebrews 5 says, talking about Christ.
Hebrews 5:7 Hebrews 5:7Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
American King James Version×who, in the days of His flesh - in other words when Christ was human - when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears - you see this is going back to that final prayer before the final crucifixion, Matthew 6:37 Matthew 6:37
American King James Version×, where He was in the garden praying vehemently. It says with mighty tears, mighty outcries, bitter tears. Some translations say He was praying so strongly. And it says here in Hebrews 5, He was praying to Him who is able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His Godly fear.
V.8 though He was a Son, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
V.9 having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
So here, can we imagine the picture? Christ is praying, and He's praying so strongly. He is so distressed. He is so sorrowful. He is in angst. He is in misery. He is actually praying and in so much pain that He's almost to the point of death, even before He reaches the crucifixion, that those Greek words there are phenomenal, because they talk about the fact that it's to the point of death. He's feeling those emotions so strongly and crying out to God with such tears and such emotion, those feelings nearly tore Him apart.
Do you think He knows what it's like? Do you think He feels it? Do you think He knows our hurts? Do you think He can understand our entire range of emotions, our entire experiences? You see, He's been through it. He's been through it. And He says that we can come to Him. We can draw near to Him.
In fact, if you flip over just a chapter to Hebrews 4:16 Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
American King James Version×, says we can come boldly to the throne of God. We can draw near in confidence. You see because we have these issues, we have these problems, we have these difficulties in our life, we feel like I'm ashamed of these things. But He doesn't say go guiltily before God. He doesn't say go awkwardly or weakly or cowardly before God. He understands, and He wants us to share our feelings, our emotions, those difficulties with Him. He understands.
And by understanding, He says we can have confidence, and He says what do we obtain that we may obtain mercy. We may obtain grace in our time of need. We need forgiveness. We need love. We need support. We need help. When we are tormented and we are just wracked with the feelings of our infirmities, we can go to God, and through His Spirit He helps us. And not only does He just feel with us, He wants to heal us. He wants to heal us. Christ took our sins upon Himself, but He also took this whole range of feelings so we don't have to bear them ourselves. We're not abandoned. We're not left to our own strength to somehow struggle through this. We can go to God, and He will help us not to feel defeated. Not to feel left out.
Remember John 14:14 John 14:14If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
American King James Version×? John 14:14 John 14:14If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
American King James Version×is so encouraging because it's a reminder of how important this issue is to God, how important our feelings are, how important the challenges that we face throughout our life really are, and how we can begin to deal with those things. Christ Himself gives us part of the answer here. John 14:14 John 14:14If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
American King James Version×Christ teaches us. He says.
V.15 he says, "If you love me, keep My commandments." Keep my commandments. 20th century New Testament says, "to lay them to your heart." Lay his commandments to your heart. It gets down to the heart and core of who we are.
V.16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another comforter, sometimes translated advocate. We heard about the counselor, the helper, the comforter. It says, that He may abide with you forever.
V.17 Even - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him or knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
V.18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
Now, we think about this passage. We know it's not a him. We know it's an it. It's a mistranslation of the Greek there. But God's Holy Spirit will not leave us an orphan. God gives us His Spirit so we can be part of the family, the perfect holy family of God, that we can be made right. This word for the Spirit, the comforter to advocate, its parakaleo, sometimes called the parakletos. It's an interesting set of Greek words. It's the para, the one that comes alongside. That's what that means – the one that comes alongside. Kaleo means to call, and it comes to our aid. So we call on God, and God sends His Spirit. God sends His Spirit that comes alongside to help us with our infirmities. So we call out to God, and that Spirit helps us. It helps us with our infirmities.
So when you go back to Romans 8 - flip back to Romans 8:22 Romans 8:22For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
American King James Version×now. Let's notice how the very name for God's Spirit here - this label that God puts on His Spirit, this comforter or advocate, the one that comes alongside to help us, let's notice the context of that when we go back to Romans 8:22 Romans 8:22For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
American King James Version×. I read this a little bit earlier in the New King James. I'll read it in the new American Standard. Might be just a little bit different from yours, but it says,
Romans 8:22 Romans 8:22For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
American King James Version×We know the whole creation groans and suffers with the pains of childbirth together until now.
V.23 And not only this, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves - you see, that's pointing to those infirmities. That's pointing to those weaknesses. It's pointing to those rings of our life where we've experienced these tragic difficulties, these emotional infirmities. We groan within ourselves. He says, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
V.26 In the same way the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses, our infirmities: For we don't know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
V.27 and it's He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because it intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
You see, He's pointed to the fact that through God's Spirit we can have healing. I mean, think about the help that He's talking about, the Spirit helps in our weaknesses, it helps in our infirmities. The word "helps" there is actually three words. Three words. The first part of the word "helps" is syn, and it means to come along with. Almost like that label the Holy Spirit being the comforter, the one that comes alongside. The word helps means to come alongside. It also has the word anti, and if we're anti something, we're opposed to it or we're on the opposite side. So synanti means to come along on the opposite side, and the third part of the word for helps is lambanetai, which means to take ahold of.
So how does God's Spirit help us? It comes alongside on the other side to take ahold of us. So God's Spirit comforts us when we ask, takes ahold of us on the other side, and works us through our problems, helps us with those issues.
Now, if we want to get really technical, the Greek is interesting here. Because that word helps, it's in the indicative mood. And you know what that means? It means that's a fact. It's in the middle voice, which means that God, through His Spirit, is doing the action. We're just a minor player in this. God's Spirit is doing the action. And it's in the present tense. It's now. It's happening right now. God's Spirit continues to help, continues to heal, continues to work with us. It's not just a onetime thing. It's an ongoing reality that God's Spirit works with us.
You see, God realizes we can't do it on our own. So he takes hold of us. He takes hold of the pain. He takes hold of the burdens that we have, and He helps us, lifts us, enables us to carry our infirmities. God's always there. He's always there.
Now, it doesn't mean that we don't have a part to play. There is a part that we play in healing those damaged emotions. God helps us. You know, what are we supposed to do about it, though? What's our part? If God's Spirit comes alongside of us and takes hold of us and helps us and is there for us, what do we need to do?
I think part of what we need to do is ask God to show us what the real problem is. Because sometimes we may not even really understand what our own problem is. God's word, the Bible, can be that helper. We can study God's word, and it can help us to see us, to see those issues that we're facing, so that we can really truly come to understand what the real issue is in our life. What's the real issue in my life?
God can sometimes work through human helpers too, can't He? Can we be that helper that assists God with others? It's not just the stock answer, but we can allow God to work through us to help others as well. That can be part of the solution as well. And, you know, sometimes God works through situations in our life. God works through instances, experiences, situations that come up that - boy, wasn't expecting that to happen. Boy, does it open our minds to something we really hadn't been aware of before, going through this situation, going through this problem, going through this health challenge, going through this difficulty or this loss. Or maybe even this wonderful blessing, it may open our eyes to see the real heart of the issue.
Didn't the Apostle James say sometimes we don't have because we don't ask? We don't pray for the right things. We can pray and ask God to show us, to show us so clearly. Then, of course, as we see that, as he shows us, part of the challenge is then we got to face it. And we have to face the situations in there. Don't we have to face ourselves? Don't we have to, in a sense with just ruthless honesty, confront ourselves with the problem? We have to look at those things, no matter how deep it is. No matter how buried it's been, we got to face that issue, and we've got to acknowledge it. And, you know, in a sense we have to accept our part in it.
Do we have a part to play in that? Now, you say wait a second. I was a victim. I was the one that was abused. I was the one that was hurt. You don't know what happened to me. You don't know what they did to me. And that may be true. That may be very true. But what was our reaction to it? How did we react to it? How did we respond? Did we learn to resent because of what happened? Did we learn to hate because of that? Did we learn to escape because of that? Do we go to some unreal world because of those kinds of things?
You see, I believe we can't be healed unless we quit blaming others, even if it was real. Even if it was true, what was our part in it? What was our part in it? In some way there is some responsibility that we have to face as well, and that's a very difficult thing to do. And I think that takes us to the other thing that we can do. We can really ask ourselves - you might just write down John 5:6 John 5:6When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said to him, Will you be made whole?
American King James Version×. Christ was known as the healer. In John 5:6 John 5:6When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said to him, Will you be made whole?
American King James Version×before He healed someone, do you know what He asked them? He asked them, "Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be healed?" That's an amazing statement, because, you know, sometimes I just want to talk about it. I just want to talk about how I was hurt. I just want to talk about this issue because I want sympathy. I want sympathy. I want a crutch. That's a challenge. Do we really want to be healed, Christ asked that individual. And I think He asked us by extension. Do we really want to be healed? Because He is more than willing and more than able to heal us.
And if we could take that next step to forgive, that step to forgive everyone that's involved, God can do miraculous things. And part of that, I think, is forgiving ourselves. We have to forgive ourselves. Can God forgive you if you don't forgive yourself? I mean, God is - it's phenomenal what God does. God forgives us when we come before Him. And, you know, if you can imagine a picture here, you've got this huge sea, and He takes those sins and He throws them to the bottom of the sea. And then he puts a sign up on the shore and says, "No fishing." Because sometimes, you know, we have our sins forgiven. God removes them as far as the east and west. And then somehow we dredge them back up again. And God says don't do that. Forgive yourself and realize it's in God's hands, and it's gone. It's removed. It's over.
And then when we need to help, when we need to serve others, we need to understand and not to just give the standard approach, not the standard roach letter, because, certainly, there is this sense of a storehouse in us. There's rings of our life that we're faced with, deep in ourselves where sometimes those hurts are still there. They still remain. They're too deep. And, yet, through the work of God's Spirit, we can be healed.
Look at the end of Romans 8. Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×. What a powerful statement here. You see, because God's Spirit cleans us up. It can heal those wounds. It can bring repair. God pours his love out upon us, and promises to heal us. Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×. It says, we know - we know this as a fact:
Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×We know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.
Yeah, but sometimes we step back and say, "This isn't working out so good. How is this working for good? This is terrible. This is a difficult situation. This is a terrible trial." And I think it makes the point by themselves, do things work for good all by themselves? All by their lonesome, they just work out for good? No, they don't. It seems like things work against us. But what this is trying to help us to see, I believe, is that when we allow God to work through things, when God works through the circumstances of our life, when we put those things into God's hands, He is the God of love. He is the God of mercy. God has a design, and He can take those difficult things. He can take those evil circumstances when we put them firmly in His hands. Might not be today, and it might not be tomorrow or next month or even next year. But, you know, in the course of our life, God promises to work them out for good. He promises it. He says, we know He causes all those things to work together, and in the course of our life, He will work them for good. That's the good news. That's part of the gospel message, isn't it, that God can take our damaged life. We're damaged goods, and He can take those hangups, and He can turn them into wholeness. He can take those challenges, and He can turn them into usefulness.
Evil, tragic, senseless things, they're still that; they are still tragic. They're still evil. they're still unjust. But in the course of our life, God can take those things and change what it's meant. He can change the meaning of those things throughout our entire life, and He can weave it, and He can use it, and He can cause it to come out to a good purpose. God can do phenomenal things when we submit to Him and we allow His Spirit to remake us, we allow His Spirit to recondition us, renovate us. God's Spirit will repair it when we put it into God's hands, when we submit to God.
There's a remarkable scripture I'd like to conclude with. It's over in 2 Corinthians 12:9 2 Corinthians 12:9And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
American King James Version×. Not only did Jesus Christ understand our weaknesses and the solution to those challenges that we face, the Apostle Paul did as well. Notice what Jesus Christ said to Paul. Paul was faced with physical challenges. He was - he must have been faced with terrible emotional challenges as well. If you're stoned and you're beaten and you're shipwrecked, you think you've got some feelings? You think you've got some emotions that rage through your mind and through your heart? Absolutely. So here's the Apostle Paul. He says that Christ said to him:
2 Corinthians 12:9 2 Corinthians 12:9And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
American King James Version× "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Or that word is infirmities. Therefore, Paul says, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
V.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.