I battle depression. I haven’t really kept that a secret. One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that on occasion the reason for my season of despondency isn’t merely chemical or the result of a stressful season. My depression likes to blame others, circumstances or my own biology for the trial I’m going through. In truth, my depression is often due to stubbornness and unrepentance.
What I do, then, in order to combat this is take a bit of a sin-inventory. I will gather a sheet of paper and write out all the things I’m feeling crummy about. I write out ways in which I feel like a failure. At times it’s sin. Often it’s simply shortcomings. At the bottom of this paper (or papers) I try to rehearse the gospel. I remind myself of Psalm 103. I preach the gospel to myself. The depression doesn’t always immediately lift but it usually sets me on a more helpful trajectory.
But I had something interesting happen the other day. As I was doing this none of these gospel truths were really working over my heart as they usually do. It felt a bit cold and informal. It wasn’t hitting home. And I realized that what I was struggling with was not a cleansing in my fractured relationship with God. I knew that the blood of Jesus covered me and that my sin was not hindering my relationship with the Father.
I was grateful for the gospel applied to my own life but something was missing…
Then I realized what really had my heart all in knots was the impact my sin had upon others. I didn’t feel right simply walking away from this thing and declaring myself having clean hands. My sin was impacting others. What I wrote at the bottom of my paper was this: I don’t pay for these, but they still hurt people. How do I live with that?
And that was my question. That is what had me all torn up. How do I trust Christ with healing those I’ve wounded. I asked myself a few other heart-probing questions. Am I really grieved over this sin, or do I just want things “better” with no relational consequences for my sin? After exploring that a bit I dove into studying an answer to my question. Here is what I’ve come up with. Here are six ways we can trust Christ with healing those we’ve wounded:
1. Remember that I’m not their Savior. Part of the reason I was having a hard time trusting Christ with healing the wounds I created was that I wanted to be seen as a Savior not as a causer of wounds. But that’s simply not the biblical narrative. While I at times get to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I’m also a finite and sinful human being. I’m going to wound others. I’m not the Savior. I have to remember that Christ is their portion as much as he is mine. The same truths which I proclaim over suffering in my own life I must believe over them. What Christ can do with Romans 8 in my life he can do in theirs. I must trust him with bringing glory to Himself and good to others even if it’s my expense…exposed for the faulty savior I am.
2. Pray for their rescue from bitterness. Satan will look for an opportunity to use my sin against others to gain a foothold in their life. I prayed that bitterness will not creep into their hearts, not so much for my own benefit, but for the sake of the kingdom.
3. I cannot control responses and that isn’t my responsibility. I am not responsible for any sinful responses which might occur due to my own sin. That is not my guilt to bear. My duty is repentance and faithfulness. This is important because so often when we are sinned against we respond with sin of our own. This can create an awful spiral and create a bit of a fog of conflict.
4. Use this as an opportunity to truly grieve sin. How many people has God rescued from drug addictions and such because they finally opened their eyes to the impact they were having on their children? When we begin to feel the weight of our sin and we see how it impacts others, we are in a position to truly see God’s grace mortify this particular sin. I want to use this as an opportunity to loathe the sin that has caused this pain. But also use it as an opportunity to trust the Spirit for healing and increased sanctification in my life. May I never forget how hideous sin is, and how every sin aims to destroy me and all those around me. I loathe it.
5. God can restore the wasted years. When I was studying this I was reminded of a great article written by Colin Smith. It’s a tremendous reminder from the book of Joel that God is able to fully restore the years that our sin has wasted. He can fully heal not only us but also the wounds we’ve created in the life of others. He can replace beauty for ashes.
6. Someday we will be as Christ and Peter. I have always loved the story of how Jesus restores Peter. I love the scene of Peter hopping out of the boat and running through the water, losing all inhibition. That’s what reconciliation looks like. And there is a day coming when not only will our sin be wiped away from our account but its hellish impact on others will be healed. Let us hope such a day is drawing near.
We need Christ to be our Savior and we need him to be the Savior of those we’ve sinned against as well. He is mighty. He can handle all the weight of our sin. Oh, what a Savior!!
This article originally appeared here.