Church Healing

            Lies in the Church by Angela J. Kaufman                                                                                                                                                                


“…you have to walk it by yourself.”
- from the American Folk Hymn, Jesus Walked this Lonesome Valley


“…Weeping may go on all night,
but joy comes with the morning.” 

 Or better yet,

“…The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.”
-Psalms 30:5b MSG

A person standing in the light of church healing.


“…Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you…” I Chronicles 28:20 NIV.

It would be inappropriate to start digging into tools that might help us begin healing without realizing how much encouragement each of us needs.  We are wounded people.  We are hurting people.  We are confused and unsure.  We may not be ready for the next step. Although I hope you find many people to walk with you and strengthen you in the process, I know only God can comfort us to our inner most depths.

God asks us to consider his love when it comes to our healing. “ Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?” (Romans 8:35a NLT).
Does our pain remove Christ’s love or bring it on four-fold? Here’s the last half of the verse: “Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?” (Romans 8:35a NLT).

The answer is found a few more verses ahead:  
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love … nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NLT) How comforting to know that God is close to the brokenhearted and delights in us when we trust his unfailing love. (Ps 147: 3 11 NIV)
 Alongside this message of hope and healing, we are gladdened by knowing that we will find God, when we seek God above all else in our lives. (Jeremiah 29:13, NASB). What a wonderful promise.

John Walsh of the television show “America’s Most Wanted”, is a great example of turning pain into helping others.  His son was murdered and in his grief he found a way to help others who experience horrific crimes. His wound provided him with the gift to act, serve and support others who have been through the tragedy of suffering the loss of a child.  He also provides a place for people to act and to serve as well.

As Christians, God constantly calls us to risk loving again, to risk the giving of ourselves again as  in John Walsh’s case. Sacrifice and servant hood. More he asks. Deeper he calls. Carry our cross. Rick Warren reminds us that serving or “service” is not “serve us.”  How we long for this life not to be so  costly to our spirit!  How we would avoid life’s pain if we could.  And yet, these are the very things that cause us to grow and reach out to God if we are wise.

Listen to the beautiful words from the hymn The Old Rugged Cross and how it relates to the topic of pain and sacrifice here on earth.  “To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share.” Shame and reproach are part of our cross to bear.  How much am I willing to sacrifice in this world for life eternal? 

It is our choice whether to return to serving God or not after experiencing a tragedy or a malady that has occurred in whatever varying degree.  We can remain bitter or work to get better.  We can run away or we can run toward God.  Healing returns to those who return.

Anyone who has been wounded physically knows our instincts pull us away from similar incidents. A child bitten by a dog will shy away from them, a widowed parent may be reluctant to try and date again, a victim of trauma or abuse may find themselves locked in the corners of their own mind, shying away from everything.            

Consider this poem!               

      To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
        To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
        To reach out is to risk involvement.
        To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
        To place your ideas and dreams before the crowd is to risk their love.
        To love is to risk not being loved in return.
        To live is to risk dying.
        To hope is to risk despair.
        To try is to risk failure.
        But the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
        The one who risks nothing does nothing and has nothing-and finally is nothing.
        He may avoid sufferings and sorrow,
        But he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love.
        Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom.
        Only one who risks is free!
                 To risk or not to risk. A risk, you see, is a leap of faith.

People who have been wounded in church also display characteristics of hyper-sensitivity. They are very watchful to the words and behavior of others. According to Marshall Shelley, in his book Well-Intentioned Dragons, it feels like this: “You don’t know when to attack, when to withdraw, or when to call for help.  All you know is your head pounds, your blood pressure rises, and the tension doesn’t go away.”

The problem is that in church there was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and now every church person could be another wolf. Beware of the lurking wolf. This is how the person who was hurt feels. The “flock” or “sheep” they used to hang around with for safety is now an unsafe “ herd.” And so they have to start looking for a safe herd again .

I particularly like Chuck Swindoll’s analogy of the church as a hospital.   A hospital is a place to find healing, comfort, hope and health.  But hospitals are also known as a place that can make you sick; a whole lot sicker than you were.  We need to be truthful and acknowledge to the world around us when that happens. (Radio Spot, Wed. April 23, ’03, Obviously, being a church of truth must also mean being honest about problems.

Consider how Marshall Shelley, in his book Well-Intentioned Dragons, states this concept.  “The church, indeed every Christian, is an odd combination of self-sacrificing saint and self-serving sinner.  And the church, unlike some social organizations, doesn’t have the luxury of choosing its members; the church is an assembly of all who profess themselves believers.  Within that gathering is found a full range of saint/sinner combinations.  Ministry is a commitment to care for all members of the body, even those whose breath is tainted with dragon smoke.”  Shelley reminds us that dragons are known for their flames, but less noticeable are the deadly gases and the forked tongues.

Animals in the wild will search to the brink of death to find or join a herd for survival. The safety of the herd is absolutely crucial for survival.  Similarly, we look for others who are like us in order to feel safe and comfortable.  Ask people who have moved to a new community what helped them decide which church to join. It invariably has to do with finding a place where “we felt like we belonged” or a place where “ it felt like we were home.”

Jesus warns us about the wolves. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NIV). It’s hard to tangle with wolves or to be shrewd spiritually. However, once we’ve become engaged with such creatures that is when we learn.  How quickly we learn to identify dangerous wolves is our choice.

In the context of a church, safety can be measured by how open and relaxed people are to questions, specifically spiritual questions.  Even with the uncomfortable or tough questions where truth is sought, a person needs to feel secure.  Interestingly enough, current culture asks questions constantly.  According to Wade Clark Roof in his book Spiritual Marketplace, “Older Americans are more likely to ‘ believe’ that God exists, younger Americans to have ‘ beliefs about the possibility of believing.’  The latter is a means of keeping open the range of outcomes in the world of belief without having necessarily to commit a strategy much in keeping with a popular quest mentality.” Perhaps alarming, but true. I can only wonder if this constant searching is an avoidance of making a commitment.  The verse from Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV) comes to mind. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

If we take this further down the logical road, it becomes obvious that being able to
question ideas, motives, and faith moves us into a group’s willingness to be accountable to one another. These two go hand in hand: a groups’ willingness and accountability. 

Let’s step back and look at this from a wounded, traumatized point of view.  If we have found a group that is open to questions, willing to listen and thus honest enough to hold one another accountable, this may indeed be a ‘safe’ place for healing to begin.  Perhaps our hyper-sensitivities can settle, when we finally find such a group.   
Don’t give up, keep looking.

If a person, a leader, a pastor, or the church wants to share the truth and the other half
wants to keep it hidden, then there is no chance for healing to take place where there is hurt or
pain or lies festering.  Perhaps they are withholding the truth to maintain control over people or
situations. We know, however, that the truth is healing.  Truth is triumphant over diversions,
lies, fraudulent deceptions. The power of truth always prevails.

The Healing Process

The basic concepts of church healing. My short list.

Healing takes time.  The deeper the wound, whether it is physical, emotional or both, the longer the recovery period. It goes against the American culture to do things slowly. Even when physically ill, we want a speedy recovery. Sometimes healing is a lonely process because your experiences and pain are your own. The pain belongs to no one else.  It is difficult but necessary, and it is your responsibility to deal with it. You won’t feel like getting back into the main stream if you don’t tend to your healing process. 

Initially when you experience emotional wounds, you will receive kindness.  But be aware of the next predictable stage. There is a caveat here. If your healing takes longer that what people might think necessary, then you will be a victim again. Only this time, you will be a victim of unjust criticism.  Because in other people’s eyes you may be taking too long to heal, and so remedies, like that given by Job’s friends, may abound. You can end up being the respected hero and the hated villain all at the same time.

Wisdom shows its face as evidenced here: Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing” (Proverbs 12:18 NLT). Words of encouragement are needed when someone is in the midst of the healing process.

Chuck Swindoll often calls these times of recovery, “intermissions.”  He goes on to say, “In the process of recovery he’s (God) preparing us to minister to somebody going through the same thing” (“When the Spirit Brings a Slow Recovery” (Sept 11, 2003 ).

However, recovery takes time. Eventually, you will become involved in helping others. Treatment, therapy or counseling over a period of time has lasting benefits and reaps a healthier life.  Recovery is a time that is necessary for the preparation of serving again, for the cleaning out of the illness or perhaps the nonessentials in our life. We do not want to cut this recovery time short. It may be the exact pruning and perfecting God had in mind to make you more completely his. (Charles R. Swindoll, When the Spirit Brings a Slow Recovery, “ from Insight For Living broadcast, Sept 11, 2003)

If you find yourself walking along side someone who’s desperately trying to heal there are some specific things you can do. Be there. Your presence is more important than any words you might say. Just by being there you are letting them know you care.
                These wounded will cry out to us:
                “Stay with me through this process.”
                “Love me through it.”
                “Accept me in it.”
                “Give me room to heal.”
                “Don’t assume I have it altogether.”

Instead of responding to these pleas, our human tendency is to sometimes recoil from their pain. However, we need to respect those dealing with it, not resent them.  We need to restrain ourselves in giving rules and guidelines in order to “set them straight.”  We dare not expect them to be some perfect person, because what they exhibit is NOT a model Christian. When we are hurting, we don’t seek out the plastic saints.  We look for those saints who have scabs and scars and bloody smears.  We want caring people not hollow answers.

One final stage on healing.  In the book, Jesus The Therapist, Hanna Wolff cautions us to what may happen if we work through the healing toward health and renewal of self. We may encounter even more resistance and anger from those around you.  “You’ve changed – how dare you.” Very few people work as hard as those who recover from lies in all its many forms.  To others looking on, this may be a threat to them for not changing and improving their own troubling past. They’ve watched us struggle and succeed.  We hold the mirror to their life now, and it is not always well received or appreciated.

I know God is still training me to be more sensitive and understanding. I pray here for God to, “Please help us gain sensitivity in the healing process.”

Stages of Grief: Stages of Healing

As the years have gone by, we, as a society, are slowly recognizing the uniqueness of each individual’s journey.  In general, we have become more aware of the progression of grief. 

Perhaps you are familiar with these grief stages.  First comes a disbelief or a denial of the loss.  Often, we call it “shock.” Second, a yearning for what was lost. Then anger may arise, which is followed by depression .  And finally, some sort of resolution or acceptance is attained.

Let’s apply these stages of grief to the process of healing.

Any trauma or woundedness causes shock or denial of the actual event.  In order to begin healing, we have to acknowledge the reality of what we have experienced.  This often leads a person to ‘relive’ the pain, and being human, most of us tend to want to avoid accepting the truth. We are often halted in our healing process by this very first step.

Just as in grieving, in order to continue healing, we need to recognize what was lost.  Is it our innocence of faith?  Is it our loss of faith in others?  Is it our loss in faith in ourselves? This self-evaluation takes time, often years.

The next stage is that of anger.  Anger is often not a pretty place for others to observe you work through.  But if we are understanding of each other, we will allow this to occur without judgement on our part.

The depression part of the healing journey frequently coincides with sense of loss. You can see why the exact order of grieving or healing is so personalized.  It is natural to wander in-between stages.

After those initial stages have completed their course in our lives at whichever time they show up. As we said, sometimes one stage can usurp another. At any rate, eventually, forgiveness or reconciliation or resolution may begin. We resolve to live on anyway.  I see it as a gathering up of oneself with the help of God to say, “I will now carry on with my life.” “I am now willing to seek new direction.”

When there is a death, we allow a person to go through these stages.  It is a way of holding the space for a person to work through the stages of grief so he or she can heal. Likewise, we need to be just as gracious to those walking through healing stages. 

And finally, the issue of time. Isn’t this what they all say?  Give it time.  Healing takes time.  Wounds will eventually heal, but scars will always remain.

Yes, we cannot ignore this fact.  Time does bring perspective and perspective can lead to forgiveness.

Another way to see this is that with time more truth will come to light.  Consider what Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truth stands the test of time; lies are soon exposed” (NLT). It’s no wonder our elders are more patient, they’ve seen what time reveals. Let’s welcome these stages of healing in ourselves as well as others.

Great resources:
M. Scott Peck, People Of The Lie, The Hope for Healing Human Evil (Simon and Schuster, 1983)

Flora Slosson Wuellner, Release, Healing From Wounds of Family, Church, and Community

Ken Blue, Healing Spiritual Abuse, How to “Break Free” from Bad Church Experiences

  Paul R. Olson, How to Touch a Leper, A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Healing

George Bennard, The Old Rugged Cross, verse 4, copyright 1913, renewed copyright 1941 by the Rodeheaver Co. (A Division of Word, Inc.) All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used by Permission.  ( )

Author Unknown, Exploring the Road Less Traveled, Scott M. Peck, Simon and Schuster, 1985, p. 80.

Marshall Shelley, Well-Intentioned Dragons, Ministering to Problem People in the Church (Waco, Texas: WORD Books, 1985), 60-61.

Chuck Swindoll, Radio spot, Wed. April 23, ’03,

Marshall Shelley, Well-Intentioned Dragons, Ministering to Problem People in the Church (Waco, Texas: WORD books, 1985), 48.

Ibid., p. 51.

Wade Clark Roof, Spiritual Marketplace, Baby Boomers And The Remaking Of American Religion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 54.

Charles R. Swindoll, When the Spirit Brings a Slow Recovery, Insight For Living radio broadcast September, 10, 2003

Ibid., September 11, 2003

Ibid., (Charles R. Swindoll, “When the Spirit Brings a Slow Recovery,“  from, Sept 11, 2003)

Hanna Wolff , Jesus The Therapist, trans. by Robert R. Barr, (Oak Park, IL: Meyer-Stone Books, l987), 15.

Marshall Shelley, Well-Intentioned Dragons, Ministering to Problem People in the Church (Waco, Texas: WORD books, 1985), 136-46.

John M. Miller, The Contentious Community (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978), 16.

I wish you hope and healing on your journey with God.

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Copyright 2018: Angela J. Kaufman, Sioux Falls, SD 57106

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