One of the things I've discovered in over ten years as pastor is that everyone has hurts. Nobody sails through life untouched. Nobody really leads a charmed life. Everybody in this room has experienced tremendous hurt, and many of us still suffer from the scars. We don't all look like it, but everyone has hurts.
The worst hurts are those that don't heal by themselves. Some hurts heal with the passing of time. Some hurts leave lasting pain. Left to themselves, they never heal. I'm talking about hurts like rejection, betrayal, and injustice. These hurts, if left over time, will fester. They need healing. They don't heal by themselves.
Today we're going to talk about healing grace. We're going to talk about good news about grace to those who have wounds from the past or deep hurts that they're experiencing right now. Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds."
God is on a mission to bring comfort to the brokenhearted. He desires to trade your mourning for joy; he wants to take away your despair and give you praise (Isaiah 61:3). God promises to be a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows. That's what God is like.
Today, I want us to see how God heals the hidden wounds of our lives. I was thinking this past week of all the different areas of our lives that need healing: guilt, discouragement, anxiety, and weariness. Does anyone suffer from any of these?
God brings healing at the point of greatest need. We've been looking at grace - saving grace and sustaining grace. Today we'll examine healing grace. How can we be healed by God's grace in these areas?
Psalm 103 tells us how. You need to cling to four beliefs:
ONE: GOD CAN HANDLE MY GUILT WITH FORGIVENESS
Proverbs 28:1 says, "The wicked run away when no one is chasing them." That's what you feel like when you're guilty. You feel like you're being chased. You are your own accuser.
The scene was the San Diego superior court. Two men were on trial for armed robbery. An eye witness took the stand and the prosecutor got up to begin his questioning. First he asked the eyewitness, "You were at the scene of the robbery?" "Yes," answered the witness. "You saw a vehicle leave at a high rate of speed?" "Yes." "Did you observe the occupants?" asked the prosecutor. "Yes." The prosecutor in a booming prosecutor's voice said, "And are those two men in this courtroom today?" At this point the defendants sealed their fate. They both raised their hand.
Let's admit it. At some point we have to raise our hands and say, "I did it." We all have sinned. James 2:10 says, "The person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as the person who has broken all of God's laws." There's no difference. Once you've committed one sin, you're guilty of breaking God's law. You become an offense to God.
We've all sinned. We've sinned through our acts - things like lying and stealing. We've sinned through our attitudes - things like anger, lust, and envy. But we've also sinned against God through our nature - the fact that we're sinners by nature. We aren't sinners because we sin. We sin because we're sinners. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:3, "We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else."
Because we're sinners, we've experienced guilt. Psalm 38:4 says, "My guilt overwhelms me - it is a burden too heavy to bear." Guilt is like a warning light brining our attention to something that needs to get fixed. Many of us see the warning light on our dashboard flash, but we refuse to get service until the engine falls out. The smart thing to do, however, is to deal with the problem. We need to be healed of our guilt.
Psalm 103:3 says, "He forgives all my sins." There are three things I want you to notice about this statement.
It's CONTINUAL. God doesn't forgive you just one time. He forgives you continually. The statement is given in the present tense. When you trust Jesus, he wipes your past clean. He takes care of future sins. He gives you grace for the present. His forgiveness keeps going and going and going.
It's DIVINE. If I offended my wife and asked you for forgiveness, I would be a fool. We need to be forgiven by the one we've offended. David observed in Psalm 51:4, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight." We need God's forgiveness to heal our guilt. That's exactly what God offers.
It's FAR-REACHING. The Psalm says, "He forgives all my sins." There are no exclusions. There is nothing that's not covered. There's no small print. God promises to heal the guilt of all your sins, no matter when they were committed or how severe they may be.
How does God deal with your sinful acts, attitudes, and nature? He forgives them. He wipes your slate clean. He makes you a new creature. But you need to ask for this forgiveness. Acts 3:19 says, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." You need to turn from your sins and follow God. You need to come to God and admit that you're guilty, and ask him to remove your guilt. He promises to do so. God tells us in Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."
A father took his son and five other children to the carnival. At every ride, he handed his son a ticket, and then gave out a ticket to each of his five kids. Pretty soon he had handed out the tickets and noticed a sixth kid. He said to the kid, "Who are you?" The kid said, "I'm your son's new friend. He told me that if I'm a friend of your son, I get a ticket."
That's what God is like. When you trust in his Son, you get a free ticket. You can't buy it and you can't earn it. But it's free when you trust in Jesus. That's how you receive forgiveness of sins.
God can relieve you of your guilt today. You can have a guilt exchange with God. God can completely forgive you of all your sins - past, present, and future. In exchange, you can receive new life and a new reason for living.
How does God handle my guilt? He can handle my guilt with his forgiveness.
TWO: GOD CAN HANDLE MY DISCOURAGEMENT WITH HELP
Job 5:7 says, "People are born for trouble as predictably as sparks fly upward from a fire." Troubles are part of life. There's no end to the troubles you will probably face. Let me give you some examples.
- A fierce gust of wind blew 45-year old Vittorio Luise's car into a river near Naples, Italy in 1983. He managed to break out a window, climb out, and swim to shore where a tree blew over and killed him.
- Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas was filming a public service movie in 1983 on "The Dangers of Low-Level Bridges" when the truck he was standing on passed under a low-level bridge killing him.
- Walter Hallas, a 26-year old store clerk in Leeds, England was so afraid of dentists that in 1979 he asked a fellow worker to try to cure his toothache by punching him in the jaw. The punch caused Hallas to fall down, hitting his head, and he died of a fractured skull.
- Surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, a thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine foot wall, dropped down, and found himself in the city prison. And you thought that you were having a bad day!
Does anybody here have problems? Sure. We all have problems.
It's hard to imagine anyone having more problems than David, the man who wrote Psalm 103. You name it, he experienced it. He was the least in his family - the runt of the litter. King Saul tried to kill him. He had to run for his life for years. One of his sons raped his half-sister and was later murdered. His other son plotted against him to take away his throne, and slept with his own wives in public view. David's life was one of turmoil.
David was brutally honest with God about how he felt . He let God know whenever he was experiencing a time of trouble. And time after time, David found that God was able to rescue him from discouragement. In Psalm 103, he writes:
He heals all my diseases; He ransoms me from death. (Psalm 103:3-4)
It's possible that David was talking about literal diseases and literal death. But it's more likely that David is talking about flat out problems and adversities - things that we all experience. Can God handle your problems? You better believe it!
You might have come extremely discouraged today. God can handle your discouragement. God can provide healing from whatever it is that is dragging you down.
This past week I heard a testimony from a man in a wheelchair. His mother was killed when he was a kid. His father never knew how to show him love. He dived into a river and became paralyzed. He became enslaved to drugs and alcohol. It takes him an hour to get out of bed. He couldn't feed himself or go to the washroom by himself. Can God handle his problems?
Two years ago he gave his life to Jesus Christ. He's exchanged his bitterness and his hurt for God's love. He's adopted 11 children and has 4 foster children. It still takes him an hour to get out of bed. He can now make his own sandwich. But most importantly, he's found that God is bigger than his problems.
God's promise is that whenever his people are in need, he will help. That's how God heals us from discouragement. He promises to come to our rescue. David said in Psalm 18 that when we cry out to God, he hears us from his sanctuary and comes to our aid.
God can handle whatever discouragement you are facing with his help.
THREE: GOD CAN HANDLE MY ANXIETY WITH HIS PROVISION
I have an annoying tendency. I worry. And the worst part is, I worry about all the wrong things.
A man was driving on the 401 in his BMW when he was hit by a truck. His car was totaled and his arm was severed. The trucker came to rescue him and he heard the man cry out, "My car! You totaled my BMW!" The trucker said, "Are you crazy? Why are you worried about your car? You've lost your left arm." The man said, "Oh no, don't tell me my Rolex is gone!"
A lot of us worry about our needs being met, and we go past that to worry about our wants as well. We look at our houses, our cars, our toys, and we worry. We wonder whether or not God will supply our needs. And sometimes we end up worshiping our possessions rather than God.
Anyone here ever worry? David says of God:
God surrounds me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. (Psalm 103:4-5)
God promises to meet our anxiety with his provision. He promises not only to meet our basic needs, but to meet our deepest needs - to provide us with his love and tender mercies. Our God is a God who provides. I've found this to be true in my own life.
A few years ago, Charlene and I were at the end of our rope. We had one child and were living at a pace that was out of control. Charlene especially was approaching burnout. She was in an unfulfilling job that was pretty close to killing her. At Christmas 1997, we went on holiday. Charlene told me, "I have to quit. I'm not going back."
How did I respond? Being the sensitive husband that I am, I looked around at our house, our car, our bills. Inwardly I said, "You have to go back." I believed that God could answer her prayers, and yet I was doubting God. I was doubting his healing grace. I believed in my head, but I wasn't believing with my heart.
In January 1998, God provided a replacement for her income that allowed her to take a leave of absence from her work. Later in the year, God provided her with a financial package that allowed her to leave that job. At the same time God provided in other ways so that we could live without her income. We have discovered that God surrounds us with love and tender mercies. He fills our lives with good things.
Psalm 107:9 says, "For he satisfies the thirsty, and fills the hungry with good things." God can take care of you. He will meet your needs. Psalm 34:10 says, "Even strong lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will never lack any good thing."
If you're anxious this morning about having enough, God promises to meet your needs. He wants to surround your life with love and mercy; to fill your life with good things. God can handle my anxiety with his provision.
FOUR: GOD CAN HANDLE MY WEARINESS WITH HIS REST
I have a confession to make. I'm tired. On Friday night, Ed and I boarded an airplane at 3:00 in the morning Toronto time and flew all night. Ed slept; I didn't. It's beginning to catch up to me now.
It's very easy to get weary. The most dangerous kind of weariness is soul fatigue.
Psalm 103:5 reads, "My youth is renewed like the eagle's!" Isaiah 40 says:
29He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. 30Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. 31But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Notice that everyone sometimes gets tired. Even the strongest people get tired at times. But God's power and strength never diminish. He is never too tired to help and listen. He is never to tired to help those who are worn out or discouraged. The one who watches over us never gets tired or sleeps.
I talked with a man this past week. His life was a mess. One day he drove by a billboard that said:
28Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
There was no church name or advertiser on the billboard - just the promise of Jesus to weary people. At that moment, he knew he needed Jesus. He knew that only Jesus would be able to give him what he really needed. Rest from his sins. Rest from excessive religious demands. Rest from a general soul weariness. Jesus offers rest from all of that.
You may be exhausted this morning. Jesus offers you rest from that. He invites you to come to him and to receive his rest. He says, "Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls." Acts 3:19 says:
19Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. 20Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will send Jesus your Messiah to you again.
Now we need to take some action steps. There are two things we need to do this morning. The first is to admit our need for healing. We all need healing in at least one area this morning. Just where you're sitting, I'm going to ask you to choose one of the four areas we've looked at this morning and to write it down. It could be guilt, discouragement, anxiety, or weariness.
Then we need to ask God to provide whatever we need. If your need is guilt, pray for God's forgiveness. If your need is discouragement, then pray for God's help. If your need is anxiety, then pray for God's provision. If your need is weariness, pray this morning for God's rest.
Let's talk to our God.
Lord, we're all struggling in different areas. Thank you that no matter what our struggle is, you can meet our need.
Thank you that for those who struggle with guilt, we can find forgiveness in you. Thank you that we can come to you and say, "Dear Father, thank you for your grace that no matter what I've done in the past, I can be completely forgiven. Father, I pray for your forgiveness today. I confess my sins. I receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life offered by Jesus Christ. I give my life to follow you from this day forward, and thank you that the record of my sins has been destroyed."
Thank you that when we struggle with discouragement, you provide your help. You rescue us from the pit. You can help us no matter what we're going through.
Thank you that you provide for people in need. You not only meet our physical needs, but you surround us with love and tender mercies. You fill our lives with good things.
Thank you that you provide rest for the weary. We come now to find our rest in you.
Thank you for your healing grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.