Healing the Deepest Agony
Part of what drives me in ministry and counseling is the appalling pain many people have. I personally have experienced terrible depths, making me feel eternally bonded to those who have likewise suffered. This article is especially for you beloveds.
We all experience some level of inner pain at some point. Whatever your degree of familiarity with sorrow, the cruse of healing Oil will never run dry. This Oil is a soothing manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61:3 (YLT): ...the oil of joy instead of mourning...
Pain Submerged in Deep Waters
When we hurt, we tend to suppress the pain and escape through outlets. This quells the ache to a degree and for a time. The resulting predicament, though, is that the pain does not magically disappear into thin air. Rather, like dirt thrown into water, the pain simply sinks down into the deeper waters of our soul.
Secular psychologists did not pioneer the deep water illustration. The Holy Spirit did through King Solomon some three thousand years ago. He compared our soul to deep waters, saying there is important stuff submerged there.
Proverbs 20:5 (NIV): The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
Proverbs 18:4 (YLT): Deep waters [are] the words of a man's mouth...
The implications of this illustration are incredible. There are many things in our soul-waters: all kinds of fish (various emotions), sharks (anger, aggression), dolphins (joy, playfulness), sunken ships (shipwrecked dreams), buried treasures (undiscovered talents), and on and on.
The Appointed Time of Healing
When God deems we are ready, He will allow/ordain "scuba divers" to bring up our submerged pain. In the language of Proverbs 20:5, this is often a person of insight. Or, He can use a person or situation that is unknowingly triggering this pain. Regardless of the exact variables He uses, in the appropriate season the Lord will move to cleanse our waters. He will make sure the submerged pain surfaces. Once it surfaces, it can be expressed and cried out in prayer and expelled from our soul in the presence of God.
Crying Out & Vomiting in God's Presence
When the pain surfaces, God is essentially giving us a redo. Previously, we did not know how to properly and fully grieve; we suppressed and escaped. This time, though, we are to take the surfacing pain captive and grieve it out in God's presence. In Biblical language this is called "crying out". I like to call it "vomiting in God's presence". It stuns me sometimes how God seems to respond to honest, raw, pain-filled crying out to Him more than any other form of prayer.
Nothing changed in Israel's awful misery until they agonized directly to God about their bondage. Exodus 2:23, 3:7,8 (NIV): The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God..."I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them..."
Nothing changed in Hannah's languishing heart until she vomited all that pain on the Lord. 1Samuel 1:10,15,16 (NIV): In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly...I was pouring out my soul to the LORD...I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.
Nothing changed in Jabez's pain-filled identity, past, and present until he threw himself sobbingly at God. 1Chronicles 4:9,10 (NIV): Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.
Even Jesus, the perfect God-man, received no response from the Father until He cried out! Hebrew 5:7 (NIV): During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Peter says exactly and emphatically the same to New Testament Christians. 1Peter 5:7 (NIV): Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The Scariness of Crying Out
I know, I know. Expressing and grieving out pain to God can be scary. It feels like we will die. It is scary to feel such pain at once. We feel out of control. Perhaps we feel we are losing our minds. So let me encourage you as one who has been through this cycle multiple times in almost thirty years of life in Christ...and have overcome to the other side. Let me encourage you as one who has walked with loved ones and counselees through this cycle multiple times...and have watched them overcome to the other side too.
You will not die; that is just a feeling (Ps 118:17,18). Yes, the pain might feel overwhelming, but an invisible Supervisor is controlling the pain level to be no more than you can take captive and express at one time. He is wisely calibrating and modulating the pain level of each crying out session. That is good Shepherding and Fathering. You might feel out of control; that is just a feeling. You are suffering in the palm of the Father and Son and you cannot be snatched out by any amount of pain (Jn 10:28,29).
Perhaps you feel you are losing your mind. Oh no, precisely the opposite. Allowing submerged pain to linger, fester, and subconsciously dictate
your mental health and entire life is the real loss of mind! Letting this pain surface and vomiting it out to God is the sanest, wisest, and most coherent thing you have ever done. It will result in a rare inner wholeness from clean soul-waters. Few people have inner waters this clean. Very few. You will be one of them.
David, Our Crying Out Hero
I so treasure David because of his unique courage. I do not at all mean courage to face Goliath or fight many men at once or kiss death constantly. Even lost men and unbelieving soldiers do this. David wins my reverence because he always faced his pain before God. No one cried out like David. No one. Not even Job.
David's father, mother, and brothers all rejected him (Ps 27:10, 1Sam 17:28,29). His mentor sought to murder him and made a national fugitive of him. His wife, the woman he loved and risked his life for, was given to another man while still being married to him (1Sam 25:44, 18:27). I could go on. David, however, learned an unpleasant secret to God's affections: grieving directly to Him. Few Christians realize this was the ultimate reason he won God over so unusually. Look at this sample of David's crying out, and God's intervention:
Psalm 6:2,3,6,8,9 (NIV): ...heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?...I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears...the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.
Psalm 31:7,9,10,22,23 (NIV): ...you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul...I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction...In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!" Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help...The LORD preserves those who are true to him...
Pouring Out the Soul, Pouring In Healing Oil
When pain rises and exits our being to God, a soul-changing replacement happens: healing Oil is poured in. This Oil is a soothing manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah said the Messiah would give us the oil of joy instead of mourning (Isa 61:3). However, you may not know exactly how He does this. One of the main ways is through the process of crying out, and its equivalent phrase, "pouring out the soul".
Scripture illustrates crying out to God as pouring out our soul. Hannah illustrated her crying out as pouring out her soul to the LORD (1Sam 1:15). The sons of Korah said the same, that their crying out was "pouring out my soul" (Ps 42:3,4). Peter used analogous vocabulary, saying to "cast all your anxiety on him" (1Pet 5:7).
The Word is saying our soul must be poured out to God in prayer first, then, His healing Oil can be poured in to make that place whole. The more this pouring out-pouring in exchange happens, the more our soul becomes healed, cleansed, and pain-free.
God's Supervision & Shepherding of the Process
God is shrewdly masterful at getting to the places in our soul that need to be gotten into. He is the captain of the scuba divers who dredge up (trigger) our submerged pain. Only He is omniscient. Only He knows what is at the bottom of our waters. Only He knows the exact people and exact situations that can dredge up what needs to be dredged up. I don't. You don't.
Because I am not omniscient, I have to trust my Father when He allows/ordains scuba divers to dredge up my pain. I have to trust Him when triggering people and events are providentially guided into my life. He is supervising and shepherding my healing. He is cleansing my soul-waters. And yours and all of His born-again children.
Trust Him by understanding the scuba divers' role. Cry out and grieve directly to Him without holding back, until you sense the soothing Oil being poured in. Repeat this process as often as necessary until all the pain is expelled and God changes the season with a meaningful reward. Job 14:14 (NKJV): ...All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.
Other Methods of Healing
It is important to make clear that God heals and cleanses our inner waters in a plurality of ways. The mechanism explained here is certainly primary, but it is not the only. God heals us through heartfelt knowledge of truth (Jn 8:32, 17:17, Ps 19:7), helpful relationships (Pr 13:20), honesty and prayer with other Christians (Jas 5:16), prayer and oil by the elders (v14), miracles (Job 5:8,9, Gal 3:5), and so on. The more avenues of healing you engage the faster and more comprehensive your healing will be.