For the last several years, I experienced chronic pain deep inside my abdomen. Some days it was a dull, soft ache, but other days I felt sharp stabs of burning pain. Since I’m a bit stubborn, I decided I could diagnose and treat the problem myself.
I bought supplements. I drank special detox teas. I changed my diet. I used essential oils, over-the-counter treatments, and a host of other remedies in an effort to fix the problem.
But the pain remained.
Finally, finally, I made an appointment to see the doctor. After a short round of tests, she said, “Oh! Yes, I see the problem.”
The pain turned out to be infected scar tissue from a surgery. I couldn’t see it, but the doctor could. And she had a way to fix it.
Since she treated me, I’ve felt lighter, like something is missing. And what’s missing is constant pain. Until she removed the problem, I didn’t realize how much it weighed me down, how deeply it affected me mentally, physically, and even spiritually. I was exhausted from battling it on my own.
Not that the efforts were all bad. In fact, they improved my overall health. But they didn’t fix me. It took a doctor to see and do what I could not.
As I reflected on my long, unnecessary suffering, I thought about my spiritual life. So often I’ve been in that same position, with something painful weighing down my soul, yet no matter what efforts I made, I couldn’t fix myself.
For example, back in college, I developed an eating disorder. I thought my struggle was with food, that if I just controlled what I ate and when I ate and how I ate, I’d be fine. If I just made more effort to be perfect and to follow advice and work out, then I would remain physically perfect.
What I wound up with was a mess.
My issue wasn’t physical, it was spiritual. I was striving to fix something externally, on my own, but I needed an internal, heart-level fix. I needed counseling, too, and through that I realized I needed to give that area of my life over to Jesus and let Him fix me.
How true is this in all areas of our spiritual lives? Sin is so often invisible, an issue of the heart and mind. Yes, we experience physical symptoms of our sin, but treating those symptoms will not fix the root issue. Please, please, don’t misunderstand me. Doctors, psychologists, counselors, mentors, life coaches, pastoral counseling, support groups, and more…these are all wonderful resources for us to improve our lives. We need people to help us, and we need to help others. We cannot do life on our own.
But we can’t forget our need for Jesus. We need him most of all.
Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (NIV)
Sin is not an isolated problem.
It’s not a problem only those people experience. It’s a deep issue all of us face. And no matter what we try, we can’t fully overcome it on our own. Sure, we can get better for a time. Maybe we can even get stronger when dealing with one temptation or another, but ultimately, we can’t fix our hearts. We can’t remove sin and imperfection from our own lives.
We need a soul surgeon who can see deep inside us and has healing power to change us. We need Jesus. There’s a reason he is often referred to as the Great Physician ( Mark 2:17).
Jesus is our redeemer, our healer, the one who ultimately paid the price for our sin to make us clean before God. He did what we could not: he lived a perfect life and offered the only perfect sacrifice available—himself. He overcame. And with his help, we too can overcome.
The truth is:
Acts 4:12 HCSB
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under
heaven given to people, and we must be saved by [Jesus’s name].”
Not that we can achieve perfection in this life, nor will all our problems ever suddenly disappear, but as we let Jesus, the Great Physician, change us from the inside out, we can experience new freedom from the pain of sin. No longer do we have to be ashamed of our pasts, of the mistakes we’ve made and will make. No longer are we burdened with trying to be “good enough” to get some sort of thumbs up from God.
We can lean on Jesus’ forgiveness and keep giving him our hearts to change and mold into a picture more like him. We can be changed by him, give him our burdens, and soak up the peace he gives us that is beyond human understanding (Phil 4:7).
Just like that doctor healed me physically and removed a source of pain from my life, Jesus heals our souls. He can see into our hearts and change things in a way we cannot. He can take the pain in our pasts and in our hearts and make them into something beautiful, if only we’ll ask.
1 Peter 1:18-21 MSG
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.