Some Principles for Ministering to Brokenness

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The purpose of this brief document is to catalyze thinking about  'shalom' with its ideas of wholeness, peace, wellness and restoration in the church as much as can be experienced this side of heaven, and to avoid the charge that "they have healed the wound of my people lightly" (Jeremiah 6:14). It is also to exalt the all-Sufficiency of the Savior, the power of the Holy Spirit and the loving compassion of the Father.

Its reality:

  1. It exists and affects real and living persons. The church would do well to recognize it, rather than deny its presence.
  2. It is a symptom/result of the fall and affects all humans and all families.
  3. It affects different people differently.

The Healer's art:

  1. Jesus is the one who heals broken hearts, sets captives free (Luke 4:18). He is the all Sufficient Saviour. Any normalization of brokenness in the church can in effect deny His all-Sufficiency.
  2. Jesus is the Wounded Healer and thus performs his healing work with both loving compassion and with the scalpel of a Wounded Surgeon. His work is thorough and deep and He addresses both root causes and symptoms as He chooses.He uses the instruments of truth, light, love and grace to do his healing work.
  3. The gifts of the Kingdom including a degree of restoration of brokenness. Submission to the King and his decrees in His realm are linked (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Luke 9:2).
  4. God heals on His terms: His way; His time; His place. Since He is all knowing, He also knows what steps are best to bring healing.
  5. Our compassionate Heavenly Father desires to see His children set free (Romans 8:21). Just how He does that is very much His prerogative. Our willingness to say "Whatever it takes" might be the biggest challenge. He can even help us to be willing to be willing.
  6. At times people harbor anger in their heart of hearts against God who "permitted the atrocity to occur." A milieu of safety, confidentiality, the grace of God, and a revelation of His love to the person may all aid in bringing restoration.

The role of the church:

  1. It requires the ministry of the whole church to the whole person. Where systems are in place in a church to bandage over festering wounds, to deny their existence, or to cause more brokenness, these must be addressed with rigorous honesty. 
  2. The power of the Word preached, the sacraments and prayer all in the power of the Holy Spirit will all be contributors to a degree of restoration from brokenness.  Prayer and fasting may be part of the solution to a particular brokenness (Matthew 17:21).
  3. In some instances we are reminded that “He could do no great works there due to their unbelief” (Matt. 13:58). We also know of the father who asked that Jesus would help him with his unbelief (Mark 9:24).
  4. No one kind of brokenness requires a different set of moral and ethical rules than another. This must be reflected in the stance of the church to brokenness.
  5. The healing of brokenness is multi-faceted and may require other professionals to intervene as well.

 

The role of sin:

  1. Sometimes confession of, and repentance for sin, and healing from brokenness are linked (James 5:14-16).
  2. Humans are responsible for their response to brokenness.  For instance unforgiveness/bitterness/anger for a situation of abuse might need to be dealt with instead of invoking a victimization clause which could absolve a person of responsibility for reactions. We also do not hide injustice done under the table, but also know that ultimately God will bring about justice (Matthew 5:38-42; Romans 12:17-21).
  3. God does not respect defiant sin and prayer for healing from brokenness in its presence (Isaiah 59:2). The influence of the devil's power in brokenness may need to be reckoned with.

The now and not yet:

  1. There are no silver bullets for brokenness, only the cross and the promise of complete shalom and full relief from all brokenness in the new Jerusalem where "each and every tear" will be wiped away (Revelation 21:4). We also recognize that not all of our questions will be answered this side of heaven.
  2. We live in a now and not yet tension of seeing some of the first fruits of the new creation while still living in the old (James 1:18).
  3. We realize that our momentary sufferings on this earth are a “light load” compared to the inheritance of complete healing waiting for those truly in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:17).

For further reading:

Steve Fernandez's booklet entitled "The All-Sufficient Savior: Exalting Christ  In His Soul-Healing Power"

http://media.cbcvallejo.org.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/pubs/AllSufficien...

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I appreciate this article. It's a good thing for us to carefully consider our role, as the Church, in a world of hurting people. 

One word of caution comes to mind when I read these words, "Humans are responsible for their response to brokenness.  For instance unforgiveness/bitterness/anger for a situation of abuse might need to be dealt with instead of invoking a victimization clause which could absolve a person of responsibility for reactions. We also do not hide injustice done under the table, but also know that ultimately God will bring about justice (Matthew 5:38-42; Romans 12:17-21)."

We need to be careful about judging those who have suffered abuse and/or other trauma. Until we have walked in their shoes, or walked alongside, we may not understand the deep impacts and effects of that experience. Rushing or pressuring someone toward "quick forgiveness", or focusing on their own responsibility before fully considering the harm that has been done, can block or impede the process of true forgiveness, which is usually a long, painful, and circular process. The capacity to forgive increases as healing increases. What is needed is someone who is willing to walk alongside, without judgment, but with compassion, each step of the journey until the point where enough healing has taken place, which then allows for the capacity to forgive. I'm not advocating absolving the person of responsibility - I'm advocating allowing the time and space needed for deep healing to take place. The process takes time, and courage, and grace, and more time, etc.

One helpful aspect of healing is when those who have perpetrated the abuse are held accountable, when the hurt is named, when the story can be told, when there is some sense of justice (even though nothing can undo the damage that has been done). In the absence of justice and accountability, the process of healing from abuse and getting to the point where forgiveness is possible takes much, much longer; if it happens at all this side of heaven.