By Joyce Meyer
Read by Jodi Carlisle
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When our arm is cut and bleeding, we can easily see that something is wrong and know what to do to take care of it. But when our soul is wounded, it is not uncommon for us not to know what the problem is or what to do to make it better. We may not even be aware there is a problem. Our inner life—our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and willful choices—are all part of the soul, and when we have been wounded deeply through abuse of any kind, abandonment, rejection, bullying, and other negative experiences, our soul needs to be healed.
A girl whose parents have abused her will more than likely have fears, insecurities, anxiety, depression, or some other types of dysfunctional behavior. I was raised in an abusive, dysfunctional home and I had many problems in my soul because of it, but I was unaware of them. I behaved in the only way I knew to behave, not realizing that my behavior was colored by the abuse I had endured.
Relationships in particular were difficult for me, especially any kind of intimate relationship, because when anyone got very close to me they started realizing I had problems. When they tried to confront me about them, I became angry and sincerely thought they were the problem, not me.
I was very unhappy for a long time. Through receiving Jesus as my Savior, I finally—after many years of misery before and after becoming a Christian—began seeking Him for answers to my problems. As I write this devotional, it has been more than forty years since I asked God to heal my wounds. I pray that through this book I will be able to share some things that will help you in your own journey toward the healing of your soul. At the end of each devotional reading, I have provided a short statement that begins with the words Declare this. I hope you will take these declarations seriously because there is something very powerful that happens on the healing journey when you make commitments like the ones in this book and speak them out loud.
A healthy, well-functioning soul is available for every person, but those who have been wounded will need to be patient and steadfast as the Holy Spirit leads them through their own personal journey of healing. If you are one of the wounded, there are many things you will need to learn, so let’s get started and get moving toward wholeness. Let’s begin with a prayer:
Father, in Jesus’ name, I ask You to heal my wounded soul. I want to be and do all that You want for me. I have a great deal to learn and I ask You to teach me and help me face truth in every area in which my thinking is wrong. I commit my life entirely to You and choose to open my heart to You in every area of my past. Help me and strengthen me through the power of the Holy Spirit, and empower me to have a Spirit-filled personality. Amen!
May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].
Ephesians 3:16 AMPC
Healing for the Brokenhearted
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Those who are brokenhearted are broken in their personality. They are unable to function properly because of their wounds. They have been deeply hurt and are unable to move beyond their past pain.
It is important that we don’t merely park at the point of our pain and remain there for the rest of our lives. God is the author of new beginnings, and whether we are wounded due our own sin, or because of the sin of others who have harmed us, we are the only ones who can decide whether to move on or stay parked. Take your life out of park and start moving forward toward the great future God has arranged for you.
The apostle Paul is a great example of someone who kept shaking off the past and pressing forward. He moved past his own sin, past the persecution he received from others as his reward for simply trying to help them, past unfair imprisonment, beatings, abandonment, and many other painful things. He also moved past his own imperfections in his daily walk with God and said that letting go of what was behind was his determined purpose in life.
When we are hurting, moving forward isn’t always easy because our mind and emotions are telling us to just give up. Although change isn’t easy and is often painful, we have only two choices—to endure the pain of change or to endure the pain of never changing. It is easy to see which choice makes the most sense. If there will be pain either way, why not choose the pain of progress?
To keep going forward in the midst of personal pain takes a lot of courage. You may not even want to get out of bed in the morning, let alone be active and do what life requires that day, but if you live by wise choices rather than by your feelings, you can do it.
I vividly remember my father repeatedly telling me, “You will never amount to anything,” but with God’s help, I overcame his negative words. If those who should have affirmed you tore you down with their words, you too can overcome their words by seeing what God says about you and meditating on His words instead. God says many wonderful things about you, things such as: You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). You are loved unconditionally (Jer. 31:3) and accepted (John 6:37). You are precious and honored in His sight (Isa. 43:4). His Word includes many similar truths that will build you up and renew your mind so you can think about yourself and your life the way God wants you to.
Don’t settle for less than the best life that God wants to give you. Perhaps you are facing a time of testing in your life right now, and the temptation to quit and give up is strong. Know this: You have what it takes to go through it and experience victory on the other side.
It’s not too late! I’m sure the devil has told you the lie that it is too late for you. However, it is never too late for God to heal and restore anyone who truly wants Him to.
God is healing my broken heart and making me whole.
Do You Need an Upgrade?
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9
We rush to get every new upgrade available for our computer and phone. We spend money, wait in lines, do whatever it takes to have the newest and best. We are very aggressive about having the best equipment available, but are we as aggressive about having the upgraded life Jesus offers us?
The Bible says that the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter every day (Prov. 4:18). This means God is always drawing us toward better and better things. He continually offers upgrades, and we should be determined to have each one of them.
Living the best life God has for you will require some effort on your part. You will need to educate yourself on the life He offers and what it truly means to be born again. As a child of God, you have an inheritance and you have certain rights and privileges, but if you don’t know about them, you will never enjoy them. We educate ourselves through Bible study, reading good books about biblical principles, spending time with God, and being in community with other people who are seeking God as we are. We also need a lot of patience because God is usually not in a hurry. He is always working in our lives, but we are not always aware of it.
Simply going to church once a week doesn’t necessarily help you attain the upgraded life you desire. It helps, but you will have to also seek God diligently every day of your life, not just once or twice a week. God has provided countless tools for us to help us grow, but we must avail ourselves of them. I want to challenge you to set aside at least 45 minutes to an hour a day and call it your “God Time.” Make it a goal, and if you need to begin with less time, that is okay because gradually you will desire more. During that time you can study your Bible, talk to God in prayer, listen to a Bible teaching, read a book that will help you understand the Bible better, or simply sit in God’s presence and receive His love.
If you do this diligently, you will find over time that you have changed and are enjoying yourself and your life much more than ever before. Any good relationship requires time, and your relationship with God is no different. God has so many wonderful things in His plan for you, and during this time you will learn what they are and how to access them. You can’t use what you don’t know you have! For example, you have a Helper, who is the Holy Spirit, and He is with you all the time. Anytime you need help with anything, all you need to do is ask. This and many other wonderful things are yours in Christ, so get busy learning about them and start enjoying the upgraded life Jesus died for you to have.
God has many good things planned for me, and I am determined not to miss any of them.
A Place of Mystery
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
I think it is safe to say that the soul is a place of mystery. We cannot see our soul, but we can and do feel its impact on our lives. All kinds of feelings, attitudes, thoughts, imaginings, and desires fill the soul, and they are often in conflict with one another. We may feel that we want to do one thing, yet think we are not able to do it. We have many feelings we don’t understand or even know where they came from. Why, for example, would a woman feel intimidated when another woman she doesn’t even know walks into a room? Or why would a woman lack confidence even though she is very talented? What causes insecurity, fear of failure, abandonment, or rejection?
These problems are definitely caused by something, and we need to know what it is. There could be multiple reasons we react the way we do in specific circumstances, but we will never understand ourselves if we continue to ignore and hide from the negative feelings and strange behaviors we have. Most of them come from some emotional injury we have sustained in our lifetime that has never been healed. It is impossible to go through life and never be hurt, but whether we heal or stay wounded is up to us.
It is easy to hide from our pain and live under layers of false identities in an effort to hide the person we really are, but it takes courage to find your true self and learn to live the life you were meant to live. Have you ever thought, “I just don’t understand myself”? “What is wrong with me?” “Who am I, and what is my purpose in life?”
The way to find the answers to these questions is to look into God’s Word. In His Word, we find His plan for us and we recognize the lies we have believed, perhaps our entire life, that have been used to derail our destiny and leave us confused about our identity. I believed I would always have a second-rate life because my father sexually abused me, but in God’s Word, I found out that He could take my pain and actually make it work out for my good if I would let Him.
If you have been hurt and have a wounded soul, don’t be afraid to open your entire being to God and ask Him to heal you. Remember, healing requires facing a lot of things you may have been ignoring or hiding from for a long time. It may be a frightening thought to let the light into your darkness, but I promise that you will be glad you did.
I refuse to live in the dark any longer. I will take God’s hand and walk into the light and face the truth that will set me free.
A New Way to Live
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way…
When you become a Christian by receiving Jesus as your Savior, He actually comes to live inside you by His Spirit, and you can be led by His Spirit throughout your life. You no longer have to feel you must follow religious rules and regulations, thinking you can please God by doing everything “right.” The Holy Spirit will guide you into God’s plans for your life, which are better than anything you could plan for yourself. This is truly a new way of living—a way of love, peace, freedom, fulfillment, and joy. You can begin it today, and it is a journey you will be on for the rest of your life.
Anytime you try to do anything new, you have to learn how to do it. That’s also true with a new way of living. Some of what you learn may seem unusual because it is different than anything you have done before and it is the complete opposite of what the world teaches us. For example, in God’s new way of living, people who try to be first end up last, while those who put themselves last end up first (Matt. 20:16). If someone wants one thing from us, we can give them even more (Matt. 5:40). Instead of holding grudges against people who have hurt us, we forgive them (Matt. 18:21–22).
Jesus’ teaching to forgive those who use, abuse, or wound us—and then to go even further and actually love and bless them (Luke 6:27–28)—was a difficult one for me. It meant forgiving my father for sexually abusing me and forgiving my mother, who knew about it and ignored it, choosing instead to treat me as though I were the one doing something wrong. Forgiving them seemed totally unreasonable to me. It took a long time for me to be willing to do that. When I finally did, it set me free and I urge you to forgive anyone that you have anything against.
Learning to forgive is only one of many lessons God has taught me about His way of living, which is why I say it is a lifetime journey. I am still learning. I want you to know that every path the Holy Spirit has led me to take on this new way has always brought me to a better place than I was before. God will never ask us to do anything difficult unless it will lead us to a better life.
Because the new way is not always easy, you may be tempted at times to fall back into your old ways. But if you will resist that temptation and ask God to help you persist in the new way of living, it will make your life better and ultimately easier than you ever thought possible.
I choose to turn from my old ways and let the Holy Spirit lead me in a new and living way.
The Goal of a Healthy Soul
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
3 John 2 NKJV
Most women I know set and meet goals each day, such as “Buy the groceries. Do the laundry. Take the kids to school. Pick up Mom’s prescription. Get Mary’s birthday present.” We also set goals for each week and each year, such as getting to church every Sunday or going on a summer vacation. But how many women have this goal: “Work on getting my soul healthy”? It’s one of the most important of all.
A healthy soul is a soul at peace and at rest. It isn’t upset, worried, angry, ashamed, or fearful. It is strong and steady, full of love, joy, hope, compassion toward others, and confidence in God. It can handle the ups and downs of life appropriately and go through everyday life with ease.
As you read the description of a healthy soul, you may think, Oh, that sounds so nice! I would love that, but I just don’t think it’s possible because I am dealing with [fill in the blank]. When you fill in the blank, you may say “aging parents,” or “difficult teenagers,” or “a serious health condition,” or “job loss,” or “an abusive relationship,” or “losing my friends,” or “problems in my marriage,” or “financial trouble,” or “unreasonable stress at work.” There are all kinds of situations that will cause you to think you really cannot have a healthy soul. They may mean you have to work hard to improve the health of your soul, but they don’t prohibit it. Actually, the fact that you are going through these things is not a hindrance to a healthy soul; it’s the reason you need one! The healthier your soul is, the stronger you will be and the better you will be able to handle your most challenging circumstances.
Just like you, I am no stranger to stress, but I have learned that things that upset us will happen. We don’t have control over that, but because God has given us the fruit of self-control (Gal. 5:22–23) and because we can ask Him to help us, we do have control over the way we respond to them. I can guarantee you, based on personal experience, that it’s much better to face challenges with a healthy soul than with a weak or wounded one.
A healthy soul is a worthy goal for all of us. I understand that in many ways it’s easier to get the groceries or drop off the kids at school than to work on becoming healthy in your mind, will, and emotions. I also know it’s one of the best things you will ever do for yourself and that God will help you do it. It may seem difficult to you, but all things are possible with Him!
I am determined, with God’s help, to have a healthy soul, and I am committed to do what it takes to get one.
Overcoming the Accuser
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Sometimes the devil complicates the healing process because he bombards your mind with negative thoughts and accusations. He will whisper to your mind accusations such as, “You are so wounded you can never be healed.” Or, “You aren’t worth having a better life than you have right now.” Or, “You deserve the pain you’re going through.” The devil is a liar, and he wants you to feel guilty and condemned. He can put thoughts in your mind, but that doesn’t mean that they are true.
The mind is part of the soul, and for your soul to be healed, your mind also needs to be healed and renewed. The devil often comes against God’s people on the battlefield of the mind, and he will try to influence your thoughts and use them to stop or slow down your healing journey.
The way to overcome and conquer the accuser is to believe God’s promises more than we believe the lies the enemy puts in our minds. It is so important to remember that all of the thoughts that enter our minds are not necessarily true. Only God’s Word is truth.
Revelation 12:11 tells us how to conquer the accuser—with the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of our testimony, which means knowing God’s Word and letting it be your guide for life. It is also good to tell others what God has done for you. As a person whose soul is in the process of healing, part of your testimony is still being crafted. But part of it is already settled: You are a beloved, redeemed child of God, filled with potential! You are a miracle in the making, a masterpiece of God’s handiwork. While you were still in sin, Jesus died for you (Rom. 5:8), so just imagine what He wants to do for you now that you have been forgiven and desire to grow in relationship with Him. No matter what you think or how things seem right now in your life, God’s plans for your future will astound you!
God’s great plans for your life will unfold day by day as you continue to live by His Word and let Him lead you. Remember this when the devil hurls accusations against you in your mind. Remind him of the blood of Jesus and the word of your testimony, which is that God is healing you and strengthening you more and more each day. Open the Word of God and read all the wonderful things God says about you instead of listening to the enemy’s lies.
I overcome every accusation of the enemy by the blood of Jesus and the word of my testimony.
Let Your Tears Flow
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah was not afraid of emotion or reluctant to show it. Notice that he “wept and mourned.” Some people refuse to exhibit any kind of outward emotion, which is not healthy. Pent-up feelings are harmful and need to be released. If we do not release our emotions at appropriate times, as Nehemiah did when he heard the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed, our emotions will eat away at us on the inside.
Stuffing or suppressing our feelings can also cause physical problems such as sleep troubles and digestive issues. Perhaps you have heard of people who went to the doctor because they felt so bad and were convinced something was wrong with them. Once they went through all kinds of medical tests, the doctor found nothing and simply said their symptoms were related to anxiety. Our emotions will always manifest in some way, so it’s best for us to deal with them before they deal with us.
God created us with tear glands and the ability to cry, which must mean there will be times in life when we, like Nehemiah, need to weep. The Old Testament woman, Hannah, wept and even stopped eating because she was brokenhearted over not having a child (1 Sam. 1:7). When David and the men with him discovered the Amalekites had burned the city of Ziklag and taken everyone in it captive, they “raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep” (1 Sam. 30:4). David also wept when his son became deathly ill (2 Sam. 12:21–22). Even Jesus wept over the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35).
Tears are certainly part of the process of healing in our soul. God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah: “Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the LORD” (Lam. 2:19). This assures us that God wants us to bring our pain to Him. We can tell Him everything about it, holding nothing back. He knows it all anyway, but getting it out in the open is very helpful to us.
Though it is important to express our deep feelings through tears at times, God did not create us to remain in a season of weeping indefinitely. There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Eccles. 3:4). God’s Word promises us that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5 NKJV). No matter what you are going through right now, ask God to help you deal with it in a healthy way. Cry when you need to, but always remember that the season of sadness will come to an end. As you walk with God, He will lead you into great joy.
I express my emotions in healthy ways, knowing that sadness will ultimately lead to joy.
Jesus Is the Best Kind of Helper
Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered and, [His completed experience] making Him perfectly [equipped], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him.
Hebrews 5:8–9 AMPC
Have you ever tried to figure out how to make a gadget or an electronic device work properly? That kind of thing comes easily to people who know a lot about technology. But it can be very frustrating to people like me, who aren’t technologically savvy and who just want the device to work! I have learned that if I accidentally hit the wrong button on my phone and start having trouble with it, all I need to do is look for a young person to help me. Though I am older and I have much more life experience than a sixth-grader who can fix my phone, that child has something I do not have: specific experience with today’s technology. I may know a lot in some areas, but I can’t fix my phone; I need help, and the best kind of helper is one with experience.
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