Sometimes the language Christians—especially church leaders—use puts us at risk of enabling brokenness. What we say can be disempowering and send an underlying message that encourages others to get comfortable with their hurt, rather than trying to heal. Two of these sayings are “the church is a hospital full of sick people” and “we are all wounded healers.”
These statements are only starting points. Yes, all of us come to the church at the very least, having a spiritual yearning or an illness of the soul that can be cured only by a connection to God. And yes, many come with deep emotional wounds and need God’s healing. However, if the church is indeed a hospital for sick people, then at some point, there should be healing. Without healing, the church isn’t a hospital; it’s more like hospice, where the best we hope to do is make people comfortable with their sickness. That limits the power of God. We do not have to go through life carrying the burden of emotional wounds. The mixture of faith, therapy, and vulnerability is the cure. God did not stop healing thousands of years ago. God is still improving today. Our testimonies are the modern-day evidence, but we have to start telling our stories of emotional healing.
I embraced the concept of wounded healers many years ago when I first came into the Christian faith. I was keenly aware of my woundedness. It comforted me to know that God could still use me in spite of my wounds to heal others. But eventually I began to question: If I am wounded, and God is treating others, shouldn’t I ask God to heal me, too? I prayed: Give me a new testimony. Sometimes we rely on the idea of wounded healers so much that we petition God to do things in the lives of others that we haven’t even asked God to do for us. It’s our badge of honor to stay broken and sacrifice our healing for the sake of others. Or maybe we feel unworthy and believe it would be selfish to ask for our healing. That’s false piety and easily allows pride to creep in and say, “Hey, look at me, look at how much pain I’m enduring for God.”
When we see ourselves as “wounded healers” rather than as “in the process of healing” we find ourselves bleeding all over each other. People who are wounded find it very difficult, if not impossible, to offer each other healing. It’s like drug addicts trying to tell each other how to stop. One person has to be healed and offer their testimony (process) of healing as a road map to the other. After the resurrection, when Jesus told Thomas to put his hand into his side, Jesus wasn’t still bleeding. There was evidence of wounds in his hands as well as his side, but the bleeding and pain were gone. “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands, and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing’” (John 20:27 NKJV).
Jesus had scars—the evidence of the resurrection and healing. Healing often leaves a scar, and we have to stop hiding the evidence. We do this by sharing our stories, giving testimonies of healing and not dwelling on our brokenness. When we heal and overcome the burden of emotional wounds, our stories of redemption bear witness to the power of the resurrection. We were wounded and perhaps the scars are still visible, but we no longer hurt. Now we are more powerful than we were before. To paraphrase the words of the Apostle Paul, we are indeed more than conquerors through Him who loved us (see Romans 8:37 NKJV).
If the church is a hospital for the sick, we need to make sure we have a significant recovery unit for the people who are getting well.