Most of us, at some point, have sought to encourage a grieving friend or family member with the phrase: “Time heals all wounds.” This common phrase is meant to comfort the aggrieved by giving them hope that the mere passage of time will somehow rid them of their pain and restore their well-being.
While time does eventually heal some physical wounds, people who rely on time to heal their emotional or spiritual wounds discover that time contains no lasting healing power. In fact, time is so irrelevant to the healing of emotional and spiritual wounds that the phrase “time heals all wounds” is not in the Bible, as some would believe.
Ultimately, the well-intentioned phrase that “time heals all wounds” does more harm than good because it misleads the anguished person into passively waiting in vain for time to take away his suffering.
Instead, the distraught person should be encouraged to make the best use of his time by actively seeking out true healing. The Bible affirms that Jesus Christ offers believers this true healing in the form of salvation, forgiveness, and peace.
Relying on God and his Word rather than time to heal our wounds is what our Father wants us to do. Below are three ways to seek healing through our Savior.
1. Look to Christ for the Path to Salvation
Many people carry around emotional and spiritual burdens that cause them great suffering and negatively impact the way they live their lives. For some, the burden of shame pushes them off the straight and narrow path. For others, the burden of anger blinds them from seeing good in anyone around them. For yet others, the burden of regret keeps them from enjoying their days.
Scripture teaches that God cares about our emotional and spiritual wounds. The Psalmist proclaimed that God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). In fact, our Father cares for us so deeply that He sacrificed His only Son so that Jesus would take our burdens from us — no matter how heavy — and gives us eternal rest in his place (John 3:16; Matthew 11:28-30). We can achieve this eternal rest by turning away from sin, trusting that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and living a life that reflects Jesus’ teachings (Mark 1:15; Luke 3:8).
When you transform your heart in this way and align your actions with the gospel message, Jesus promises that he is the way that will lead you out of shame, he is the truth that will remove the scales from your eyes, and his is the life that was ransomed to heal your wounds and grant you eternal salvation (John 14:6; 1 Peter 2:24).
2. Forgive Your Transgressors So That God Will Forgive You
When we suffer the betrayal of someone we trust, it wounds us emotionally and can even fracture our faith. It can be easy to justify living with an attitude of unforgiveness toward someone who hurt us, especially if the offender was a close friend or family member.
However, living with a spirit of unforgiveness often deepens our hurt and causes physical problems such as cardiovascular disease and stomach ulcers, and emotional problems such as hostility, anxiety, and stress.
More importantly, choosing an attitude of unforgiveness disregards Jesus’ stark warning that as we forgive others their sins against us, so shall our heavenly Father forgive us our sins against him, and as we refuse to forgive others their sins, neither will the Father forgive us our sins (Matthew 6:14-15).
Instead of choosing to punish your transgressor (and yourself) by bearing a grudge against him or her, use your time to cultivate a sense of forgiveness for the person who wronged you. Forgiveness can be something you choose to communicate to the wrongdoer, or it can be an attitude you adopt in refusing to let resentment build up in your heart and, instead, focusing on moving past the pain of betrayal.
This isn’t to say that adopting an attitude of forgiveness is easy, but it is our biblical duty to strive toward it. Scripture teaches that a good time to extend forgiveness to others is during prayer when our thoughts and hearts are united with God (Mark 11:25).
It’s worthwhile to note that forgiveness is something you do for yourself to move on from a painful offense. Forgiveness does not require that you associate with the person you’re forgiving if that person continues to engage in the wrongful behavior.
3. Do Your Part to Live in Peace with Others
Peace is something everyone clamors for. Whether the peace we seek is social, political, or personal, living in peace washes us with a sense of well-being and security. For those who live with emotional or spiritual wounds, they can find the peace they so crave by looking to Jesus’ teachings on peace.
As the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), Jesus left us the gift of peace and advised us that only he, not the world, can give us an all-encompassing sense of peace (John 14:27). By studying Scripture and working to embrace the peace that Jesus already gave to his believers, you can seek to free yourself of the troubles and fears that are causing you emotional and spiritual strife (John 14:27).
In embracing peace, the Bible instructs that peace is just as much something that we feel as it is something that we do. We’re to “seek peace and pursue it” by doing our part to promote goodwill with others (1 Peter 3:11).
This can look like extending an olive branch to someone we’re currently at odds with or standing up for someone whom we know is being mistreated. We can also promote future peace by teaching our children how to resolve disputes through considerate compromises rather than through angry arguments.
Notably, Scripture acknowledges the limitations you may encounter in promoting goodwill with difficult people. In particular, the Bible reassures that you’re responsible for promoting peace only “as far as it depends on you” (Romans 12:18).
What Does This Mean?
The phrase “time heals all wounds” seems to offer concise wisdom and, as such, is presumed to be in the Bible when, in fact, it isn’t. In reality, the Bible doesn’t encourage us to look to time to save us from our suffering, but to Jesus Christ who suffered, died, and rose again so that we might have eternal salvation.
Therefore, the best way to respond to your life’s moments of pain and suffering is not to passively wait for time to heal your wounds, but to actively follow the teachings of the Savior by whose wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).
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Dolores Smyth writes about her life’s passions — faith and family. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. You can read more of her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.