“Your muscle is like this,” my physical therapist says as she holds up her hand clenched tightly into a fist. She softens her grip. “In order to strengthen the muscle, it has to relax.” She explains that after an injury or a trauma, a muscle tenses up as a protective response to prevent further injury. Over time, the muscle gets desensitized to the tension, while the body creates ways to adapt to the dysfunction.
This made me reflect on how, in God’s desire for wholeness, he lovingly reveals where the heart and mind need rehabilitation as well. He unveils his inverted, perfect restoration plan in the midst of pain for those of us who are willing to listen.
Identify your need for restoration. It sounds like a no-brainer, but I literally had to retrain my nerves to feel again by electrical stimulation. The dysfunction became so pervasive, my body stopped sending meaningful pain signals.
Isn’t that how sin works?
We get so used to the brokenness that we sometimes unknowingly allow it to take up residence in our hearts and minds. Inevitably, denying sin issues creates more pain and dysfunction. James 1:15 says, “Then, after desire has conceived [temptation], it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you spiritual blind spots and seek a wise confidant who can hold you accountable.
Process the pain. So, my nerves get jolted back online and wow does it hurt! Conviction allows those pain signals to register again in our spirit. Fortunately, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) because the Holy Spirit simultaneously convicts our hearts and gives us grace. Paul tells us that, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Therefore, the existence of pain means you have become neither paralyzed, nor apathetic, nor desensitized to the problem! Let that sink in.
Learn to surrender. “You can’t train a tense muscle,” my physical therapist says, matter-of-factly. Holding onto tension limits healing and growth, so I commit the next month to just learn how to relax. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. I just want to hurry up and get better!
In the same way, how often do we desperately strive in our own limited human abilities to try to bring our circumstances within our control? During this difficult time of waiting, God refines my heart as he heals my body. I surrender my pride and perfectionism. Psalms 130:5 says, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.” When God calls you to surrender, it is an all-in kind of surrender. God is the potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). Our creator wants to restore our full range-of-motion. And he promises us hope!
Intentionally Strengthen. With intentionality, I set out to strengthen my muscles and regain function. First, I accumulate a box full of therapy tools, a notebook filled with exercises, and even nutritional tips to aid my healing. Then, I put my nose to the grindstone. The daily discipline produces both endurance and strength. Incredibly, after months of training, my pain nearly completely dissipates and I restore most of my functioning.
Fortunately, God does even better. He is not a God of nearly or mostly. He is the God of fully.
God already put in all of the heavy lifting, bearing the full weight of our sin and shame on the cross. Now he wants a purposeful relationship with us. And good relationships take discipline and commitment. Moreover, as we grow closer to God, he fully equips us with his strength. Isaiah 40:28-29 says, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Thank God I don’t have to depend on my own strength!
My friend, have you become desensitized to pain or find yourself adapting to brokenness?
Are you resisting surrender in certain areas of your life and limiting your healing process?
How has God restored you?
As we share our testimonies, we glorify God and his powerful works in our lives. I can’t wait to hear from you.
In God’s fullness,