It’s been a long week. Between getting settled in to this school semester, spending time with friends, trying to coordinate a big community event in Richmond, KY, and preparing for a sermon that I preached yesterday, I have been swamped. But, today is Labor Day- and I am going to celebrate it by blogging!
Using my weekly meeting with my friend at Purdy’s (http://www.purdyscoffee.com) as a spring board, yet again, I want to talk about how you can subvert the powers of the world by healing someone, specifically those whose wounds are self-inflicted. This is a very difficult subject, and many people don’t know the first place to go to deal with it. I read a statistic that said 4 percent of the population self harms. 4 percent. That may seem miniscule, but in a city of 40,000, that is 2,000 people. And the vast majority of those are teenagers- kids. Kids I work with. It is a trend that has gained steam in the last few years, but one that has been around for a long time. And usually, it is associated with depression- it is a sign that things aren’t right in someone’s life.
There are some great resources out there (which I will suggest later) to aid you in trying to help those who compulsively hurt themselves. But first, let’s look at an old one.
People have been harming themselves for thousands of years, and in most cases, it is a gesture to connect with the deity they believe in. But it is one that God forbade His people to do, because he knew that it harmed them physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but that also back then it could have led to further harm through infections. There is also a biblical example of self harm being connected to demonic influence. Jesus encountered a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs, could not be subdued (even by chains), cried out day and night and cut himself with stones.
This must have been a teenager.
That last comment was not really meant to be a joke. I see kids all the time that suffer under the same darkness- they go in and out of the tombs, either literally by spending time in a cemetery, or figuratively by thinking about and idolizing death on a regular basis. They are trapped in a culture of death. Many teenagers cannot be held down or made to think a certain way- if any shackled are placed on them they typically refuse them and shake them off. And many, many adolescents cry out night and day from the pain they feel, and do not know any other way to deal with it, so they cut themselves.
But what can we do?
To begin subverting this dark power, we have to care enough to step into the pain of others. Not tell them to suck it up. Not say they are just wanting attention. And definitely not just ignoring them. Learn about what they are dealing with. You can get some knowledge about this from To Write Love On Her Arms (www.twloha.com) But, beyond these things, it is important that people who self-harm know that they do not have to hurt themselves to deal with their pain- someone else has felt their pain, and He has stepped in front of the blade for them. Subvert the powers today.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
Isaiah 53: 3-5