Summary: When life hurts, God provides His presence to protect us
THE STRESS BUSTERS # 7
WHAT GOD DOES WHEN LIFE HURTS
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."
INTRODUCTION: We're concluding Psalm 23 today. In Psalm 23 we have seen how much God loves you. We've seen how much God cares for you, how He says "I want to be your shepherd." Today, I want us to discover together, How the Shepherd Heals our Hurts.
Several years ago the American Heart Association published the results of a remarkable scientific study. In 1998 Dr. Randy Bird did a study of 393 coronary care patients at Duke University Hospital. Dr. Bird is not a Christian and this is not a Christian study. But it asked the question:
“Does prayer have any impact on patient’s healing?”
Without the patients knowing it, people were asked to pray for only half of the heart patients.
The groups were comparable in age & severity of medical conditions. The people praying were given the names of the patients and their diagnosis and were asked to pray everyday for their healing and recovery.
Dr. Bird compared the outcome of each group and found those patients who were prayed for did better than those who were not. It was amazing! Everything from recovery rates, hospital stay, length of medication, type of procedure needed, was better for the group that was prayed for.
Just to prove this was not a Christian study they observed that distance of those praying for the patients made no difference. ( Like, that’s a surprise!?) But that’s significant because the people who were being prayed for didn’t know they were being prayed for. So it wasn’t psycho-somatic or a psychological trick.
The truth is God cares about your hurts and He still heals! And not just physical hurts.
Psa.147:3 " He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." ( NIV)
Everyone experiences hurt. People say things or do things that cause us pain. Most of the time, we can slough it off. However, there are things that happen to us, words that are spoken, that are not that easily ignored.
Last week, we studied the Valleys of life. We learned that, you are at one of three points in life. You are either in a valley, or you have come through a valley, or you are about to enter a valley.
Just as each of us go through valleys in life, we will also experience times of hurt. Hurt can come from circumstances out of your control, they can arise from words spoken from people you care about, or from the evil devises of people bent on hurting us.
The question is not if you will experience hurt, but how will you respond to the hurts you experience in life.
1. You can IGNORE IT
There are several ways we do this:
A. Deny it – That didn’t hurt me. I’m not mad.
B. Delay it – I’ll deal with that later. I don’t get mad I get even.
C. Minimize it – It’s no big deal. It didn’t hurt so bad.
Ignoring your hurt never heals it. You’ve heard it said, “Time heals all wounds” – but sometimes time makes the infection grow worse.
Denying it, delaying it, minimizing it turns minor problems into major ones. Wounds get infected and spread when they aren’t dealt with. Look at what Psalm 39 says about trying to ignore hurt.
So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased. Psalms 39:2 (NIV)
Ignoring our hurt does not work – it makes it worse.
Some people react to hurt by trying too,
2. RUN FROM IT
When people hurt they run. People run to: television, movies, drugs, shopping, divorce, alcohol, sex, food wherever we can use to find relief. But when we return the problem is still there. Running doesn’t solve it.
"I wish I had wings like a dove. Then I'd fly away and rest. I would hurry to my place of escape..." Ps. 55:6+8 (NCV)
Can you identify? Maybe what weighs you down is just the burdens of life. An addiction; a sad family life; constant physical pain; or just an unrest in your soul that you can’t put a name to, but it is there.
God offers something better than dove’s wings. He offers something better than escape. He offers release to the captives; victory to the downtrodden; ultimate glory with Him in heaven.
That doesn’t mean all of life’s troubles will be instantly taken away. It means that as we trust in God, He will develop us into warriors and, who overcome through His word.
Another reaction to hurt is to,
3. HIDE IT
"When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long." Ps. 32:3 (NCV)