It really didn’t hurt much. The cut was about a half inch long, and perhaps a quarter inch deep, exactly the width of a hacksaw blade. It was more embarrassing than painful, but bled enough to produce sympathy from the coldest of hearts. In fact, the most painful part of the ordeal was the injection that the ER doctor gave to numb my injured finger—that needle hurt more than ten hacksaws. Once my finger was numb, the doctor started serious work on the cut, and things really started getting interesting. He was much more aggressive in cleaning the wound than the nurse had been. Not only did he scrub the skin around the laceration, he spread the tissue apart and dug around inside it, looking for (and retrieving) bits of metal, plastic, and other debris that had been on the saw blade. He forcibly flushed the inside of the cut with saline solution, almost as though he were “hosing out” the injured area. He flushed the wound several times before he was satisfied, and only then did he begin stitching the two sides together.
Through all of this, of course, my finger was quite thoroughly without feeling—a fact for which I was quite thankful. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when the anesthetic began to fade, that I really began to experience pain—considerably more pain than I had experienced from the original injury. I have to admit that I found myself wondering if I would have been farther ahead to have just bandaged the cut myself rather than seeking treatment and increasing my pain. I didn’t contemplate that issue long; experience has taught me that wounds like this heal faster and better when properly cleaned and treated.
We are all wounded to some extent. Some are wounded from broken or troubled relationships, divorce, or loss of a significant person or position. Others struggle with even deeper wounds, caused by abuse. Others wrestle with wounds that they don’t understand, and may not even recognize. Every one of us has the basic wound of depravity—the natural tendency to sin and rebel against God.
All of these wounds have much in common with my saw-cut finger. These wounds cause pain and discomfort. We often put band-aids on them and hope that they will heal, a subtle form of denial. Like my saw cut, these heart wounds are filled with debris—painful memories, anger, resentment, bitterness, and even rage. If not properly cleansed and treated, they can become infected and inflict even more pain, creating a repeating cycle of emotional pain and infection that can sometimes even prove fatal.
Why do we allow these wounds of the heart to fester out of control? Sometimes, it seems preferable to the pain that we face when opening those wounds, cleaning them, and bandaging them. It’s easier to close our hearts, and keep it all inside, easier to deny the heartache and “put on a happy face.” It hurts to probe around inside those wounds and remove the hidden anger and resentment. It’s hard to look into those wounds and see our hearts honestly. It seems to hurt a lot less to deny the wound, anesthetize ourselves with activity and noise, and pretend that there’s nothing wrong. Unfortunately, denial and deterioration always walk hand in hand.
If you are wounded, I have good news for you. Your wounds can be healed. Yes, there will be discomfort in that process, and you may experience even more pain for a time, but after those festering wounds have been cleaned out and stitched up, your healing can begin. Soon, your pain will fade and you will begin replacing denial with genuine recovery.
No, you can’t do it alone. Just as I could not clean and suture my own wounded finger, you cannot clean and bandage your own wounded heart. You need the help of a committed, caring, trusted friend who knows how to gently perform the “heart surgery” necessary to your recovery, and there is no better example of such a caring, compassionate healer than Jesus Christ.
“He heals the brokenhearted, and bandages their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3).