5:23am. I woke up with paralyzing trepidation. An alarming sense of fear washed over my entire body. This was the third, consecutive night that a fatal tragedy struck my dad in one of my dreams. These dreams were so vivid that they seemed to stream into a weighted depiction of reality. Heavy sadness swept over me. Death is one of the most costly experiences for the living. The thought jarred me into reflection. Another impression entered my mind, “My heart aches. My heart is deep for my people.” I felt the ache viscerally, and knew that the genuine compassion I was experiencing was not solely my own.
This experience occurred the early morning before the launch of one of my thirteen-week programs, GriefShare. This program was developed by a collective of churches to support people in their journeys after the death of a loved one. When I felt my real tears emerge from the mere idea of my dad’s passing, I knew, in that moment, that I had emotionally reconnected with grief. I felt God leading me into a deep place of empathy for the people I would meet that very night.
In some of my most broken and vulnerable moments, I have encountered God’s presence as my Healer and Comforter. He has met me in ways that seemed previously unimaginable. In my work as a therapist and pastor, I consistently see how God has marked his people as his own. I have seen him move in tangible ways in my counselling office. He has shifted broken paradigms into truth. He has spoken personally to people through visions and prayer imagery, reigniting hope. I have witnessed him bring reconciliation to deeply wounded families and relationships, and I have seen him bring his Shalom. This is Jesus. Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who Heals.
People are meeting Jesus through our Healing Ministries programs at Tenth. Genuine transformation is taking place. These are the voices of his people:
“I found God again through finding community with people who understood my pain. When I couldn’t receive love in any other way, he met me there, and I began to hear him again.”
“I didn’t know how much I needed this space in community to grieve, until I came here”.
“I’ve found safety for the first time in a long time. I can finally be myself. I am learning to hear him speak again. Before, I was so overwhelmed in my suffering that I couldn’t differentiate his voice from my own.”
“I haven’t attended church for a long time, but I came back when I couldn’t handle life anymore. I found Jesus again while beginning to process my pain.”
“I feel closer to Jesus now. My pain is still here, but I’m beginning to hope again.”
When the church begins to learn how to stay with people in their sadness, we give permission for brokenness and we acknowledge that healing is a journey. We connect in our humanness, and choose to value honesty over façade. Sometimes God heals quickly and miraculously. Other times, healing comes slowly through process and in the context of community with others.
At Tenth, a part of our vision is to be a place of healing for the broken. I believe that Jesus’ ministry is one of Holistic Healing. Not only does he come to heal us physically, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally and socially. He has come to bring deep healing to our humanity through the redemption of our sins, healing in our relationships by reconciling us back into community, and inner healing for our lives through the very power that raised him from the dead. When we encounter Jesus and experience his healing presence in our brokenness, we allow his spirit to transform us into a new creation.
God’s heart is present for those who mourn, he promises them comfort (Matt 5:4). My jolting, early-morning experience reminded me of the words in Revelation. “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:5). As we look to our grief, our losses, death, unfulfilled dreams, our failures and our traumas, we are promised that these former things will pass. “Behold, I am making all things new” declares the Lamb on the Throne. This is our God.