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January 2015

Has your life as a Christian been what you expected? Sometimes we have the idea that everything is going to change for the better once we’re saved. However, it doesn’t take long to discover that our problems persist. How can we reconcile strained relationships, unemployment, financial struggles, or health issues with the abundant life Christ promises His followers (John 10:10)? We may end up disappointed and confused, and if we’re honest, we might even have to admit that we’re starting to believe God has let us down.

Well, I want to assure you that the Lord has not forgotten or abandoned you. Although salvation doesn’t eliminate temptations, trials, and heartaches, Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” However, we need to understand that His idea of good is higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). We usually want Him to make us comfortable and happy, but His goal is so much greater than that: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).

The Lord loves us too much to leave us as we are. In the process of transforming us, He digs up attitudes, behaviors, habits, and thought patterns from our pre-salvation days—perhaps even from childhood. He allows us to experience hardships and problems because they have a way of bringing these issues to the surface so we can see and deal with them—and He won’t let anything stand in the way of making us more like Jesus (Phil. 1:6).

How will you know when the Lord is uprooting an issue in your life? Sometimes it becomes evident through words or actions, but more often it’s our emotions that reveal that something is not quite right. Do you find yourself overwhelmed with anger? Or perhaps you’ve felt burning resentment or unforgiveness at the sight of someone who’s hurt you. Some people may even experience persistent loneliness, inadequacy, or a sense of rejection. All these feelings can signify that something deeper is going on underneath the surface.

At one point in my life, everything seemed to be going well, but there was an empty spot in my soul. After unsuccessfully trying to figure out what it was, I called four friends to help me discern what God was trying to tell me. We met together, and I told them everything I could remember about my past. The next morning, one of them told me to close my eyes and imagine that my father had just picked me up in his arms. He said, “What do you feel?” I started crying because I had never experienced a father’s love. My dad died when I was only a baby.

I had known God’s love theologically and had preached about it, but at this moment I was overwhelmed by His fatherly love for me. Then the Lord started to reveal more things I’d covered up—the loneliness I experienced early in life, the unforgiveness I had toward my stepfather, and even the anger I’d felt toward God for taking my father from me. The Lord pulled up all these emotions because He wanted to heal me and use me for His purposes. How grateful I am that He intervened in my life. My relationship with Christ now is so much deeper than it ever would have been if I’d simply ignored the painful issues from my past.

When the Lord starts knocking on some closed doors in your life, there are steps you can take to ensure that you don’t forfeit His healing mercies.

First of all, be honest with yourself (Psalm 51:6). Don’t try to ignore or deny the truth of what you are feeling. Our tendency is to try to ignore our past and bury our pain. However, if you don’t face what God wants to reveal within your heart, you’ll continue to suffer the harmful effects of these damaging emotions.

Second, stop blaming others(Ps. 51:3-4). As long as you find a reason to shift the responsibility to someone else for whatever is missing or wrong in your life, you delay God’s healing. Even if your hurts run deep, it is vital that you forgive anyone who has wronged you (Col. 3:12-13).

Third, ask the Lord to heal the broken places in your life (Jer. 17:14). Specifically name each area and confess any sinful responses to these emotions. Then cooperate with God’s healing process. The Holy Spirit will restore and transform you into Christ’s image as you yield to His authority.

Finally, realize that emotional healing takes time (Ps. 25:4-5). You can’t simply decide not to feel those painful emotions anymore. God will work steadily and lovingly to help you overcome your hurts so you can become the person He desires you to be and accomplish what He’s called you to do.

Are you willing today to let the Lord plow and uproot the emotional weeds that have been growing in your life? Although the process may be painful, you will never regret offering the Lord your whole life. God’s best blessings are on the other side of the pain.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make a fresh start. Why not begin with this simple prayer: “Lord, show me one area in my life in need of your healing touch today.” My prayer is that you will discover the blessings that come with a life fully yielded to Christ and transformed by His power.