How do I know? Because it hurts.
It's red and icky and swollen. Just looking, anyone can tell that something is definitely wrong.
I've tried to clean it out and de-infect it, but nothing's worked so today, I'm going to the doctor. I'm sure the doc will know what to do and afterwards, it will stop hurting.
Nobody likes hurt.
Nobody likes it, but nobody escapes it. We all get hurt.
And some of our biggest wounds are the ones that don't show.
It's harder to show a doctor an infected heart than an infected finger. But it hurts just as much, maybe more. And just as when I don't get my infected finger cleaned out and healed, my emotional infection left untended will spread and get worse. Much worse.
We all know what physical infections look like when they're not tended. Nasty. But what do emotional hurts look like when neglected? They have repercussions, too. Like anger, and bitterness, and isolation.
OK--so when we go to a doctor, they ask us for symptoms of our physical malady. How about our other hurts? How about those symptoms?
Who or what makes me consistently mad?
Or, what inexplicable outburst took me and everyone around me by surprise?
Who just always irritates me?
What kind of book or movie or remark always puts me in a bad mood?
Why do I pick on a particular person or behavior or habit?
When did I stop going to church?
Or hanging out with friends?
What makes me just want to hole up at home and avoid everyone?
What place or person or subject do I want to avoid no matter what?
I know that, if I don't get my finger healed up, the affected area will get bigger and eventually, I'll either get blood poisoning and die, or I'll catch it in time and it'll heal, but will leave a scar. Well, I have non-physical scars, too. And they are not without consequences.
Ironically, a physical scar won't hurt like the wound did. It might twinge a little once in awhile, but the constant, throbbing pain is gone. Someone can touch it, and I don't jump anymore. I know that a doc can probably help me with my physical hurt. But I have to get help with my other hurts, too. And just like my physical ones, I have to admit I hurt in the first place.
There's no shame in hurting. Jesus did, too.
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death...--Hebrews 5:7a
Loud cries and tears. Jesus was not shy about telling God about His hurts. And what did God do?
...and He was heard because of His reverent submission.--Hebrews :7b
Jesus humbled Himself to admit there was something wrong and then accepted God's healing when He did. I have to do the same thing.
God wants to do for me exactly what I want the doc to do for my infected finger:
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.--Psalm 147:3
But I have to admit that I need it. I have to look at the warning signs--the pain, the tenderness, the inability to engage in normal activities, and realize that I need to let God bind my wounds. I need to let the scar form if it must, and wear it as a sign that I've come through safe, after all.
We're pretty good at saying that God is the Great Physician. Now we have to act like it.