c) Healing given
The Lord promises to bind up the brokenhearted. The word for brokenhearted here is the Hebrew word sabar; it can also be translated smashed, broken down, shattered, crushed, injured, and stripped. It is to these types of persons that the Lord wants to come and release his ministry. The broken heart may have resulted from sexual abuse that occurred long ago. It may result from an abusive parent or from an unwanted divorce. Pain may result from experiencing spiritual abuse at the hands of a once-trusted pastor.
Stanley writes, “Let your pain drive you to God today. In running to God and in resting in Him, you will discover more about who He is. You will discover more about who He has created you to be, how He desires that you related to others, and what is truly valuable and important in life. If you let your pain drive you to God, you will discover what is important to God. And ultimately, you will be healed of your pain. The Lord desires to bind up the brokenhearted. Invite Him to do His work in you today.” Stanley, 231.
Whatever the pain, the Bible promises that as the poor person draws close to Jesus Christ, allowing his Spirit to minister to him, he will begin a process of healing. David Seamands explains that the wounded should “keep trusting God and believing his goodness, even in the midst of the inexplicable. We may not be able to trace God’s hand in what has happened, but we can still trust God’s heart. And trusting God’ heart encourages us to turn toward him.”
d) Freedom proclaimed
For the person who has experienced painful bondage – whether that be emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical – the Bible promises here release and freedom. “In the Near East the freeing of prisoners (from debtors’ prison) as an act of justice often occurred in the first or second year of a new king’s reign (and then periodically after that). . . . Thus the ‘jubilee’ in this case was primarily concerning those in debt (for either financial or legal reasons) and for the freeing of debt-slaves.” John Walton, Victor Matthews, and Mark Chavalas, eds. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 639. The captives will be liberated and the prisoners will walk in darkness no more. The wounded can find hope in the fact that God does indeed offer these gifts. Calvin wrote, “We are prisoners and captives, therefore, till we are set free (John 8:36) through the grace of Christ; and when Christ wishes to break asunder our chains, let us not refuse the grace that is offered to us.” God does not want his children walking habitually in gripping fear, pain, and self-condemnation. He does not want his children crippled emotionally long-term because of the wounds of yesterday. With the ministry of Jesus comes a release from former chains and a light that replaces former darkness.
Freedom and light are by-products of walking closely with the Lord. Jesus promised that a disciple who learns to abide in the Word of God will experience greater and greater degrees of freedom. This freedom will include liberation from fear, guilt, shame, and dismay.
“The more you focus on who God is and what God is like, the more your attitude and your thinking will begin to change. You will begin to line them up with the truth of God’s Word. You will begin to feel and think the way God feels and thinks. As you begin to feel and think the way God feels and thinks, fears fall away. A sense of confidence and assurance builds. You will find yourself relying upon and trusting God more and more. The more you put your trust in God, the more you discover that He never lets you down. You can count on Him! When that happens, a boldness develops in your spirit so that anxiety is a thing of the past. You know who you are in Christ and who Christ is in you! You come to the place where you trust Him to be with you and to help you through whatever circumstance or experience life hands you.” Stanley, 29.
The longer a person who has been wounded will draw closely to Jesus, walk in his Spirit, and abide in his Word, the more that person will be freed from the shackles of yesterday’s abuse. Kay Arthur teaches that in the Bible, the balm of Gilead is a symbol for the Word of God. “You – anyone – can be delivered your pit of despair because there is a balm of Gilead, and there is a Great Physician there! . . . God’s Word is our plumb line by which we are to measure everything we hear, everything we believe, everything by which we live. . . . It is vital that you know God’s Word and that you allow it to dwell in you richly. We need to know the Word of God so that it can keep us from ungodly counsel. . . . The Bible is the only book which, in its entirety, is composed of the very words of life, the very precepts of God. And if you are ever gong to be healed, if you are ever going to be whole, then you must have the balm of Gilead, the Word of God. . . . His name is Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals. He is the Physician in Gilead, and you can cry, ‘Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved’ (Jeremiah 17:14). He will heal; He will save.” LORD, Heal My Hurts (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 1989), 41,43,45-46.
The Lord has the power to free the victim over time from the painful effects of the abuse. Light is promised multiple times in the Scriptures. Isaiah promises that for the one guided by God, darkness will be turned into light before them, even along unfamiliar paths. Jesus taught, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” And John later teaches walking in Jesus’ ways will be walking in the light.