The Wounded Heart

I was reading Psalm 109, reflecting on David’s feelings of deep anger against a person who had obviously betrayed him. Verses 6-19 are basically a blistering list of the bad things he thinks should happen to this man and anyone close to him. But then he switches gears in verses 21-22:

But you, Sovereign Lord, help 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,.

When my heart is wounded, my natural response is to lash out in anger at whoever inflicted the pain. My anger is usually in direct proportion to the level of love and trust and/or loyalty and service I have invested. The greater my investment, the greater the sense of betrayal. In my hurt, I don’t always stop to consider the motives behind my investment (who am I really doing this for, and why?), or the unspoken expectations of others I tied to my efforts (If I do this, I expect you to do – or feel – that).

Here, David gives me a picture of a godly way to handle my woundedness. David doesn’t try to suppress his real feelings by pretending they aren’t there (as if God wouldn’t know!). His conversation with God is absolutely authentic: Lord, this person has really hurt me and I want them to hurt big time for what they’ve done. The key difference is that David puts the situation in God’s hands. He asks God to bring about the consequences for his betrayer. He has a list of suggestions, but he leaves it with God.

There are lessons for me here. Sometimes I think that as a Christian I shouldn’t feel anger in these situations – that I should be able to rise above it. But when I try to push down my natural feelings, I’m not fooling anyone but myself.

So lesson #1 is that God provides a safe and appropriate place for me to vent. He already knows and understands my feelings, and knows it’s better for my mental and spiritual health for me to be real about them – with Him and with myself. But while I’m venting I need to honestly examine my own contribution to the situation. How much of this wound has been caused by my own insecurities and expectations? Have I set myself up for failure and then tried to hold someone else responsible? Usually when I switch the microscope from others to myself, I see some germs there that need my attention.

Lesson #2 is that I need to leave the outcome with God. Retaliation is a natural impulse, but only God is wise enough to know what is required and what form it should take in order to bring about His greater purposes. When I really leave the outcome in God’s hands, I can move on without being weighed down by what I should do about it.

Lesson #3 is recognizing how much I need God’s help to treat my wounded heart. Although I leave the consequences for the other person with God, the reality is that my wound is still throbbing. If I try to pretend it’s not, again I’m only fooling myself. I still need God to deliver me from continuing feelings of anger, betrayal, grief and depression if that wound is ever to heal. I will need God’s help to wash my wound with His Word and wrap it in prayer daily until I can see a healthy scar and no angry inflammation. If it flares up from time to time, I’ll recognize that I need some further treatment and where I can get it.

Over time, the scar will fade, but it will never disappear completely. It can serve as a reminder that my scars are signs of healing from the One who was wounded for my transgressions. I, the wounded, am also a wounder. As Christ suffered for and forgave me, so I must forgive when I suffer, which is, after all, the ultimate healing.