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Invisible Affliction

April 10, 2012

I was recently topping a maple tree I have worked on previously. As I cut out one limb, I noticed some evidence of rot in the center. As I studied the situation more closely, I realized that where I had previously pruned looked healed from below, but the old nub was dying and bringing that death down deeper into the healthy tree. The signs prompted me to take extra protective measures during this round of pruning to seal the cut and prevent further damage.

This limb gives me a picture of emotional wounds in our life. The damage (cut) occurs and at least outwardly or from a distance, everything looks like it is healing nicely. However, on the inside, a deadly disease of bitterness or a toxic residue of pain continues its menacing work. Slowly and imperceptibly, the seeds of decay are eating away at our emotional health. Unchecked, this situation stands to undermine the finest appearing life. It may be the daily grind, a ‘storm’ of life, or another ‘cut’, but the wound will be exposed. The damaged limb will shatter and we will be left cleaning up the debris.

If you have an emotional scar, don’t be content to cover it. Use whatever means necessary, prayer, counseling, or friends, to completely heal the wound. Don’t let a veneer grow over the injury leaving an appearance of health but the unseen presence of a root of death. We need awareness to address it, the courage to face it, and the strength to ultimately release it. As scary as that may seem, the alternatives are worse. If we do nothing, at best, we will spend untold energy trying to cover the injury. Eventually, we could be a ‘massive maple’ destroyed by an invisible affliction.

The prophet Isaiah said of Jesus, “With his stripes we are healed.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2012 4:10 PM

    Thanks, Phil. This reminds me of a friend who told the story many years ago of going through an extremely difficult time. In the midst of it, her cat was severely scratched in a fight and the vet’s instructions were to daily apply a disinfectant on the open wound. This involved opening and airing the scab as it was forming and then applying the medicine that stung. You can imagine the cat’s reaction in her arms as she went about this task. Yet without it, she was assured the cat would become diseased and die. Slowly she realized, even as she groused in aggravation, that God had gifted her with this injured cat who was, in fact, herself. She was undergoing the painful re-opening of severe and deep emotional wounds, on what seemed a daily basis. She was aware of the necessity of the process she was going through but, nonetheless, the pain was real and stabbing. It was only when she realized that it was God who was holding her the same way she held the cat, in strong and sure arms, God who loved beyond her whining, snarling, scratching self–only then that she was gifted with the vision to understand and let God truly heal her. God’s message to her became clear: The healing has to be done from the inside out but do not fear for you are in my arms.

    • April 10, 2012 4:25 PM

      Kathleen, Thanks for this comment. What a powerful picture. I’m not sure whether the cleaning of the wound or the flailing of the cat better captures what it must look like from God’s perspective.

  2. Mary Lee permalink
    April 10, 2012 4:24 PM

    Awareness, courage and strength. I need a new pad of Post-it notes for the bathroom mirror!!

    • April 10, 2012 4:27 PM

      Mary Lee, At least this week it was only 3… I’m convinced we will only find this awareness, courage, and strength as we journey together. Thanks for being a journey parnter.

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