Friend Of A Wounded Heart, by CCM artist Wayne Watson, is in my opinion one of the most powerful songs ever recorded, not only by Wayne, but in the history of CCM. The melody flowing through the verses is both sorrowful and beautiful. As the melody transitions into the chorus it becomes a majestic sound of hope and assurance.
Lyrically this song is packed full of sympathetic understanding, as each verse connects with it’s listener in such a way that you believe the writer experienced your own pain — your own experience with suffering. Then as the verses reach the chorus, the lyrics emphasize the melody’s sounds of hope and assurance. The words of the chorus tell us that we are not alone in our pain. There is one who has experienced our suffering. It’s Jesus! The friend of a wounded heart. I really need this reminder.
In this season of life, I have been reminded that I am not exempt from suffering. Not that I ever really thought that I was, but we do tend to get complacent in the “good times.” We do occasionally believe that maybe we are not going to have to suffer as others do, but the reality is we all do endure hardships from time-to-time. Many do so more than others.
For me, my season of suffering was realized back in late September of this year when I was diagnosed with stage three, possibly even stage four, colon cancer. As so many who have been diagnosed with cancer (or any other type of terminal disease) can attest to, when you are given such a diagnosis your mind races, your stress levels increase. You almost immediately begin asking the typical types of questions like, “Why me, God?” or “Can this really be happening?” or “When will this pain end?”
We humans are so predictable in so many areas of our lives, especially when we endure hardship. Those of us who claim to be followers of Christ tend to be more predictable than most, as we act surprised, and shocked that God would allow such a thing as pain and suffering. It’s almost as if we believe that as a Christian we shouldn’t have to suffer; we shouldn’t have to experience anything that isn’t pleasant. That just can’t be any farther from the truth.
Satan has “sold” the followers of Christ on this lie for far too long. Why the Devil even has preachers building entire theologies and doctrines around this ideology. But in spite of what these “Prosperity Gospel” doctrines teach, God makes it very clear in Scripture that we all — especially those of us who follow the true teaching of Jesus Christ — will endure suffering. Read with me this verse from 1 Peter, chapter four:
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Did you get that? “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering;” our suffering is normal. Our times of plenty, our times of happiness, our times of pleasure are the times that we are to be surprised about. Our distress is commonplace, especially if we serve Christ, because this world is broken. This world is not only broken, but it hates God. As a Christian we should expect hard times — painful times — times of suffering. After all, Christ calls those of us who follow Him to follow Him in His suffering. Read with me these words from Matthew, chapter sixteen:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.’ ” (Matthew 16:24)
What is a cross, but an instrument of torture? I know most of us think of it as a logo for Christianity, or a cool piece of jewelry, but the reality of the cross is not religion or beauty at all — it’s suffering, pain, and death. Life in a broken world is hard, it is painful, and it will reap all manner of distress. Especially if we serve the Creator of the world, whom the world hates. We may not endure it for long, and we may endure suffering multiple times, in multiple ways, but whether we suffer for a moment or for a physical lifetime is beside the point. The fact remains that humanity will endure hardship, and when we do God’s grace is available to help us through it (2 Corinthians 12:9).
God also promises we won’t have to suffer alone. Not only are the followers of Christ called to help each other through the hard times (Galatians 6:2), but we are also given the very Spirit of Christ — the Holy Spirit — as a helper and mediator (John 14:15-17; Romans 8:22-27). It’s because of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of the Gospel message, that we can endure hardship and find joy in it. Yes, you can be joyful in your suffering.
Again, let’s review what Simon Peter said, “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” You see, our suffering allows us to become one with Christ; it grows in us His characteristics (Romans 5:1-5). Suffering allows us to really know Jesus in a special way, and our temporary pain brings glory to Him eternally.
My suffering and your suffering (whether past, present, or future) exists not just because of our broken world or because of Satan’s evil ways, but because it will grow us into true worshipers and ultimately bring glory to God, our Creator. Let’s close with the words of James, the half brother of Jesus:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:2-4, 12)
J.Scott Harden appreciates all prayers during this season of life. If you would like to help J.Scott focus more on healing, and less on financials, then please consider donating generously to help bring peace and healing back into his life.
J.Scott Harden is the main provider to a family of six (three teenage boys, one teenage girl, his wife of twenty years, and himself).
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