The Hollow and the Healing

Fruit    In recent weeks I’ve heard some rough, ragged, just plain hard stories. What do you say to a woman who has watched her daughter wither and fade completely away, die under the weight of the lie that she wasn’t good enough the way God made her? What about the lady in her 70’s dealing with decades-old wounds surfacing, fresh and throbbing? The young woman, abused and abandoned, and then chosen, only to be abandoned again? The mother who is afraid she has scarred her children? The broken soul, convinced there are some things so twisted and mangled not even God can redeem them?

The more people I meet, the more stories I hear, the more I realize how stunningly complex life is. There are as many heartaches as there are fingerprints, and pat, manufactured answers are sandpaper on tender souls.

“It will get better,” makes no sense to someone who is swimming in, breathing, drowning in black depression. “That’s not true,” does nothing to unwrap the strangling coils from the mind of someone determined to believe lies. Even, “God loves you,” is tossed around so much that it can bounce and slide right off the heart without ever sinking in deep.

We have counselors, shelves full of best-selling books, the straight talk of Dr. Phil, well-meaning friends… all these complicated answers that ultimately don’t meet the need, don’t fix the heart.

The other night I had a dream that I was at a banquet with lavish table settings: crystal and linen, silver and candlelight. Someone I care about deeply, a woman who has been looking in dark, dangerous places in an attempt to create her own truth, served the food. It was plastic. Hollow. Completely inedible. Pretty, but totally void of nutrition.

People who are soul-punctured and leaking life recognize hollow, flimsy answers when they see them. Fancy words woven around an empty core don’t dig deep enough to heal on their own. There is a time for counselors, to be sure, and medication as well, but no complex treatment plan can ever take the place of the only simple answer.

Jesus. Just Jesus.

Only hands big enough to shape and spin and hold a universe are strong enough to handle the enormity of human misery. And those hands have been wounded, too, by our sinfulness. He knows.

    He knows.

And he’s not afraid. He welcomes us in our raging mess. Our unclean lips don’t sully his holy ears. Our doubts and questions don’t offend him. Our anger doesn’t bruise him.

What matters is that when life knocks us sideways and we lose our breath, our sight, our footing, do we stumble blindly, trying to find healing in the hollow? Or do we grab white-knuckled, wrestling like stubborn Jacob at Peniel, refusing to turn God loose?

It may not be pretty. It may hurt. But only in the simple – not easy! – act of letting Jesus into the hidden, ugly, scarred places can we find real answers. Answers that stick. Answers that scrape us raw and leave us new and hopeful and healing.

Genesis 32:22-32; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (NLT)

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