Psalm 109:21-24 “But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake. Out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy and my heart is wounded within me. I fade away like an evening shadow. I am shaken off like a locust. My knees give way from fasting. My body is thin and gaunt.”
There is a true story of a man who had quite a life. He was born in a small town. He was the youngest of eight boys. He was treated as insignificant by his family, almost like he was invisible. His brothers belittled him and dismissed him. That could really wound a person. Even his father seemed to overlook him. That could absolutely wound a person. He got a great job when he became a young adult, but his boss was completely crazy, was out to get him, and even tried to kill him more than once. He literally had to go into a witness protection kind of program on more than one occasion. Think of the woundedness that could result from fearing for your life every day. He dealt with significant enemies all of his life. He had one close friend, and he died. Oh how he grieved. Yet another wound. In fact, he lived to see everyone he loved die. He himself had a physical problem that caused him pain in his bones. What a heavy heart physical pain can produce. Though no one would have predicted he’d ever be capable, he had an affair and then murdered his mistress’s husband. The baby that was born to him as a result of this affair, died shortly thereafter. Even with all of these heartaches and wounds, he was a man of faith, a man who wanted to please God, a man after God’s own heart. His name? David.
I have no legitimate proof for the hypotheses that I want to present this morning, yet what I have to say comes directly from God’s Word, and I believe I have been led by God to develop this thought for us today. Those who don’t allow God to tend to their wounds, wind up wounding themselves and others. I’ve titled this message, “Wound Care.” I think it is quite possible that David had some wounds that others inflicted. I believe he had some wounds that were self inflicted. I think it is possible that he ignored treatment for those wounds and out of a wounded place, he then became one that wounded others.
The medical world has identified three kinds of wounds. Scrapes and abrasions, lacerations, and puncture wounds. Some take longer than others to heal. Some involve more bleeding than others. Some may leave a scar that’s visible. Others may leave no visible trace of the wound behind, but they are still there.
There are different kinds of wounds we experience in life. Maybe we were minimized or overlooked in our childhood like David was. God told Samuel to go to Jesse’s house in Bethlehem and to meet Jesse’s sons. One of them was to be anointed the King of Israel. Scripture says that Jesse called his sons one by one to meet Samuel. All seven older brothers passed by Samuel, but Samuel never got the green light from God to anoint any of them King. Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all of the sons you have?” Jesse, David’s dad, hadn’t even thought to call David in from the field. He never considered that the shepherd boy, the youngest could be king. It’s almost a Cinderella story, isn’t it? Jesse called David in from tending the sheep at Samuel’s request to see if his foot would fit that glass slipper and he would be anointed King. It did. But can’t you just imagine a little wound was birthed in David’s heart from being overlooked?
Some of us know what it’s like to be picked last for gym class, to be rejected in a certain relationship or to feel passed over for a promotion. Like when we speak, no one is really listening. It hurts.
Then what about his crazy boss, King Saul? He was always jealous of David. He knew David was gaining a following. Every time David turned around Saul was throwing a spear at him, trying to kill him. He had to hide in caves, in fear of his life. Saul said nasty things about David.
Some of us know what it’s like to feel like someone is out to get us or to make us look bad. Our reputations can suffer. We can literally live in fear like we’re walking on egg shells wherever we go. It hurts.
Then there was the major loss David suffered when his best friend, Jonathan, died in battle. II Samuel describes in chapter one how he grieved, and cried, and lamented this deep loss.
Many of us know what it is like to lose someone we love. It can leave a wound for a lifetime in the deep places of our hearts.
Doctors will agree that all three kinds of wounds, the scrapes and abrasions, lacerations and puncture wounds require water under pressure in order to clean them. In order for the wound to heal, there has to be a cleansing of the wound. If not, infection sets in. Complication sets in. Keeping a wound clean is the best way to avoid additional problems.
I want to suggest to you that perhaps David wasn’t good with wound care. Maybe he didn’t treat each wound along the way, exposing the wound to the cleansing and healing that God can offer every time we find ourselves in distress. Maybe after a lifetime of feeling neglected, being talked about and losing his good friend, infection had set into his heart and mind. Instead of dealing with his wounds one at a time, he let them pile up and as a result, a kind of spiritual infection went to his heart. The infection defiled his heart. Emotional injury and anger turned to greed, idolatry and deception, and when he found himself in a position of authority as King of Israel, he somehow developed the faulty thinking that he was above the rules, that he deserved to have whatever he wanted and do whatever he wanted and he was exempt of the consequences.
And so, he had an affair with Bathsheba. She became pregnant, and he had her husband killed to try to cover things up. You can’t cover up sin. It’s impossible because sin always leaves a stain that can’t be covered. It has to be cleansed.
I hear of people wounding others like David did when he killed Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. When I hear their story, their personal journey, it often is a story of woundedness where one wound led to another and finally, they couldn’t take the hurt or pain or rejection or whatever it was they were dealing with and they looked for a way out, any way out, whether it was legal or illegal, moral or immoral. And as I listen to them, I can understand why they did what they did, but it seems, looking back, there was always a better way. Had they not let things fester, had they dealt with life’s wounds one at a time, had they confessed what was going on instead of pretending things were fine, the end result could have been different and they wouldn’t have had to deal with remorse and regret and the wish for the rest of their life that they turn back time.
As I read Scripture, I see potential for this kind of progression in David’s life. Following the murder of Uriah, God sent Nathan to confront David about his sin. Nathan told David that as a result of what he had done, the son that Bathsheba was carrying would die. The baby was born and sometime within the first year or two, he was struck ill and David immediately started begging God to change his mind in II Sam. 12. He fasted while lying on the floor of his home for days. He completely retreated from everything and everyone. His servants tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. Seven days after the baby became sick, he died. Those who were involved were afraid to tell David the baby had passed because they thought he might commit suicide.
One scholar believes it was during the illness of David’s baby, while he was lamenting and lying on the floor that he wrote Psalm 51. Here these words Psalm 51:1-12 and verse 17-Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
I want to make three points:
David says, “Surely you desire truth in the inner truth parts.” Pretending
we’re okay when we are really wounded, is a form of hypocrisy that can lead to a terrible infection. David actually thought he could lead a double life. He thought he could murder Uriah, take Bathsheba to be his wife quickly and cover up the whole adultery thing.
I’m concerned that in the church in America, there is an expectation that if you can’t stand up and testify each week or if you don’t have a smile a mile wide, that something is wrong with you. What I’m trying to say is, I think people who want to be real with their problems aren’t finding that the church is a place for them to do so. It’s almost like we’ve created a “check your burdens at the door” culture and we’ve shut out and shut down opportunities for weeping with those who weep.
Please hear me this morning. There is a place for lament and the expression of grief and pain in the life of a Christian that is not a disappointment or embarrassment to God. It is what we do when we serve a God who is big enough to handle our truth. Some of us have been hurt by our families. Some of us have been hurt by our friends. Some of us have been hurt by people we’ve trusted. Some of us are sitting in the middle of a mess of our own making, but the bottom line is, we’ve been wounded and if those wounds haven’t been addressed, we’re still wounded.
Often, we walk into church wounded and walk out wounded because being real, sharing our hurts, we think, leads to scrutiny and judgment or that it’s somehow a sign of weakness. Listen with your hearts this morning. As long as I am the pastor here, I will be leading the charge for this place to be a safe place, a hospital for hurting people who don’t know Jesus as well as a safe place for hurting people who already know Jesus. Where did we get the idea that just because we become Christians we are supposed to become immune to hurt? We’re still living in an imperfect world. We’re still confined to the human experience. That means we’re still susceptible to being wounded.
The first step to getting your wound cared for it telling the truth. What good would it do to have a pain in your side and go to the doctor only to say it’s your head that hurts? You wouldn’t receive the right treatment. What good does it do to go to a house of healing and say you don’t have need of healing if you really do? I want to officially declare the days of “I’m fine, how are you?” over. If it’s not true, tell the truth. It’s okay to say, I’m struggling today, would you pray for me. I’m hurting right now, can we have lunch? I need someone to talk to.
In his Psalm of lament in Psalm 51, David said, “Surely you desire truth in the inmost parts.”What truth do you need to tell today? Do you need to convince yourself that it’s okay to get wound care? Do you need to confess some sin and tell the truth to God? He already knows what the truth is anyway. Do you need to tell the truth about something to someone else? Pretending you’re not wounded won’t work. It will only create an infection and a bigger problem.
2. Prolonging wound care will rob us of our joy and zap our strength.
David said, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation.” Do you remember how passionate David was when he killed Goliath? He was all about advancing God’s name. I Samuel talks about the way God was with David because David was with God. Whatever God wanted David to do, he was willing to do it. But I believe that woundedness got in the way of David’s passion. The joy of his salvation and the joy of serving the Lord were somehow in David’s rear view mirror. They became a part of his past.
When Thom and I were expecting Joshua, our good friends Tim and Tracie, who didn’t think they’d ever have children, were expecting their son, Zachariah. We were looking forward to having our sons just a few weeks a part. Well, Zachariah came early. He didn’t live. We were there when Zachariah died, just a few hours after he was born. That was seven and a half years ago.
For much of these past seven years, Tim especially, has dealt in an ongoing and fairly intense way with the deep wound that grief delivers. Retreating from ministry, isolating himself somewhat, he dealt with his grief privately and much on his own. Ten days ago, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to call Tim. Four times, God pestered me to call him. He told me to tell Tim that he was supposed to say “yes” to the position he was considering. I had no idea what that meant, but after the fourth time, in order to get God off my back, I called him and told him that he was supposed to say “yes” to God. He then informed me that for one month he had been praying about becoming the chairman of the elder board at the church in Cincinnati that we came from. He said that God had revealed to him that he had lost his joy for serving the Lord after Zachariah passed and that it was time to get back into ministry.
Listen, woundedness can literally take us out of the game and keep us from serving God which is a joyfully addictive experience. When woundedness sidelines us, we isolate ourselves. We miss out on relationships. We look for excuses to stay home from special occasions or church or whatever because we think if we don’t have to see anyone, no one will notice that we are wounded and we won’t have to deal with it.
Woundedness will keep us stuck in a place of despair and depression and discouragement. God wants us in the game of abundant life. If we don’t seek wound care, we’ll become drained by the infection of the wound and be zapped of energy and joy.
Jesus came to save us from our sins and give us eternal life in heaven, but that’s only part of the story. That’s only part of the Gospel. People who are walking around wounded don’t want to hear that if they just hang on until they die, they’ll one day have a wonderful experience in heaven with God. People don’t need hope for someday or one day or eternity when they’re wounded as much as they need immediate relief. I’m telling you that Jesus came not only to save us for heaven, but he came to give us abundant life right now. Listen to the job description of Jesus, Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.
Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” What good does it do to come to church where healing can take place only to leave at the end of the service just as wounded and lonely as we were when we came in? Prolonging wound care would be like putting off treatment that we need for our physical body. It wouldn’t make any sense to go to the doctor for your weekly appointment for some kind of treatment only to refuse the treatment. That’s insane. What’s even more insane would be to go back to the doctor every week where healing was available and refuse it week after week after week. Yet, when we won’t admit our woundedness, when we prolong wound care, we’re doing the same thing when we come to church. Why put off healing? Why not let Jesus do his job description?
3. Sometimes the greatest worship we can offer comes from our greatest wounds. When David heard the news that his son had died, he washed his face, changed his clothes and went to worship God. Strange perhaps, when he was so wounded, but interesting it is for us as Christians to consider what David’s behavior might say to us.
Nearing the end of Psalm 51, it’s as if David has a light bulb moment. He has an “aha” moment. “It’s not the blood of bulls and goats that you want, O God,” David says. It’s not the sacrifices that you want, O God. It’s not the burnt offerings that you want. Rather, Psalm 51:17 says,The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
David understood in that moment what God wanted. God wanted David’s wounds. God wanted David’s hurts. God wanted David’s broken heart so that he could remake it. So that he could cleanse it. So that he could do wound care for David’s heartache as well as for his sin. When you take your broken spirit and your broken heart to someone, to offer it to them, it’s because you believe they can mend it, fix it, restore it or remake it.
When children go to their parents with a wound it’s because they believe their parents know how to make it better. They show honor, respect and confidence in that moment, in submitting to the treatment of the wound from one who knows how to care for it.
To bring your wound to God, to trust Him with the deepest pain of your life, why that may be your greatest worship, your greatest sacrifice. In doing so, you are giving Him complete control to cleanse you and start a new work in your life. That’s true worship.
Everybody goes through wounding experiences in life. Whether the wounds are physical, spiritual, emotional, or relational, they’re either in your life now or they’re coming. So what do we do when we’re wounded?
Be honest with God. Tell Him exactly how you feel. You need to unload all of your feelings. When you share your feelings with God, when you trust him with your pain, you’re worshiping – even when those feelings are negative.
God did not make our bodies to handle negative emotions. God never designed them that way. When we swallow our emotions, our stomach keeps score. So the first thing you do when you experience pain in life is confess it. Tell God you don’t like what happened – it stinks! Don’t worry. God can handle it. Talk to a trusted Christian friend. Let them pray for you and help bear your burdens. Don’t put off getting the help you need by pretending you’re alright.
Our hurts will never just go away. Time does not heal all wounds, but God can. God cares about your broken heart. That’s half of the reason Jesus came, to bind up your broken heart. He healed David’s heart. He’ll heal yours. Jesus, the suffering, wounded servant suffered all the hurts that anyone could suffer Is. 53:1-12, John 1:11, Luke 22:57, 23:35-37, Matthew 27:46. Because Jesus suffered, healing has been provided for you. Isaiah 53:5. It’s God’s desire to heal your hurts (I Peter 5:7) but he has to control your heart before He can heal it.
As you hear this song, I want you to consider worshiping God with your wound. It’s called, “Come, Lift Up Your Sorrow” by Michael Card (If you’re reading this, check it out on Youtube.) If you would like to come and pray while the song plays, please do. When it finishes, I’ll pray and we’ll sing a song together. Church, it’s time for some wound care.