Picture a polished, gleaming, juicy red apple sitting high up on top of a fruit stand amid dozens of other apples in a grocery store. It's luscious, ripe, ruby tone assures any onlooker that behind the thin, glossy skin of this delectable fruit contains the flesh of a delicious desert fit for the consumption of a King.
Now imagine the display case is brutally bumped. The jolt jars the apple from its position atop of all the other apples sending it tumbling aimlessly towards the edge of the stand, then over the edge where this precious fruit hits the floor with a loud "thud". Now imagine the produce manager, who was watching and saw the incident instinctively looks around to make sure no one is looking, quickly picks up the apple and positions it back on top of the fruit stand. Then he walks away to continue his day as if it never happened.
The apple has completely absorbed the blow, right? No harm, no foul; life goes on, right?
While the apple appears on the surface as perfect as it once was, benefit the thin outer shell of this apple is a record of an incident that went unreported. Under the red skin of this fruit is a patch of crushed flesh at the site of the impact. Some unlucky patron will purchase this apple based solely on its outer appearance. They will take it home with a bunch of others planning to enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed. But they will soon discover that one of their apples has a deep, dark secret. One of the apples is allegedly flawed. One apple was hit by a cold, hard floor and now carries the worst of all types of wounds; it bares an internal scar which will mark the spot of the injury forever. The person who blindly buys this apple will discover it is damaged; blemished; defective; BRUISED and the new owner will no doubt be disappointed.
So you ask, "Gerard, why in the world are we talking about a bruised apple?" Well, any one who has studied human psychology on any level recognized the analogy by the 3rd sentence.
Whenever you experience a traumatic incident which inflicts emotional pain, whether it happens while you are a young child, a teen, an adult or even in old age, your psychological mind has a record of the event. On the surface you appear to be unaffected by whatever happened. But underneath your psychological "skin" is a breeze that swells and throbs begging for your attention.
Now with fruit, the bruise will never go away. In the case of your psychological mind, however, your psyche has the ability to place a sort of "false skin" over the incident to shield you from the emotional pain of the impact at the site of the wound. You are blocked from the pain and shielded from further injury in that place. This "false skin" is the process of removing the incident from your recollection. You're able to carry-on for years, even decades as if the event never took place because you are protected from the memory of the pain by this "covering". Think of it as an emotional "scab", if you will.
The trouble comes when your consciousness begins to detect the imminent pain of the imagined emotional bruise. This is when your "covering" fails allowing you to "remember" (not as in a full recollection, just a conscious realization of hidden pain). When this happens, it's just like ripping off a scab too early; the wound begins to bleed all over again. Then you must deal with a larger portion of the painful occurrence than you are ready to realize.
The moment an emotional injury finds its way into your consciousness, you might do innocent little things to occupy your mind. Things like read a book, do a word puzzle, do house work, play video games, watch soaps, watch sports, or perhaps write a 500 word narrative on the human psyche (this one is over 1,000). But, when those things do not suffice, people have been known to do things that are drastic and much more harmful in an attempt to dispose of pain that has been inadvertently unearthed. Damaging things such as stuffing your face with saturated fats, drinking alcohol, smoking weed, snorting cocaine, or having risky, unprotected sex with strangers.
If you recognize any combination of these behaviors in your life, here's what I want to say to you. You may not know this, but … Jesus was bruised. That's right. He was bruised in every place that we are bruised today as part of his fellowship with us. The bible says he was " bruised for our iniquities" ( Isaiah 53: 5) . This passage goes on to say the " chastisement ( or the punishment) of our peace was on him "; meaning, in order to "know" us, he had to go through the hell that awaited us.
Jesus, who was without sin, endured wounds and bruises for our sake. The bible says Jesus was despised and rejected. He experienced sorrow and knew much grief. He carried strips on his back for the load of problems that congratulate our backs. He wore a crown of thorns on his head for the crown of emotional torment that we wear. They drive iron nails through both of his feet for the punishment of the sinful places that our feet take us. And they pounded these iron stacks into both of his hands right below the wrist for the iniquity that our hands are drenched in today.
But this passage in Isaiah finishes by saying " with his stripes we are healed" . With the blood Jesus shed, he removed the requirement for us to suffer any longer due to iniquity. This means you CAN find healing for your situation. You CAN find peace from an emotional bruise.
The truth is, none of us are perfect. We are all badly flawed. We're busied, disfigured, blemished, defective, we are all damaged produce. But because Jesus endured the pain of our bruises and even death; we have a new hope. We are broken vessels but God now has a new treasure invested in us. 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 says,
"… we have treasure in earthen vessels so that the excellent power of God may be of Him and not of us. We are troubled on every side, but not distracted." We are persecuted, but not forsaken. We are cast down, but are not destroyed … "
We can face tomorrow because God has placed within us His power, his excellency. Our worth is not of ourselves, but it is "of" Him. We are broken vessels, but in Him we can be made strong. We are troubled, but we do not have to be bothered. We are perplexed by our condition, but we do not have to dwell in despair. We're persecuted everyday but God promised we will never be forsaken or destroyed.
So trust God. And by "trust God" I mean trust God's plan for your life. God knows what your bruises are. He knows what happened and even when it happened because He was there. Yes, He did allow it; however, what differentiates our God from the neglectful produce manger in my story is that God cares. He's never once turned a blind eye to the cries of His children. You've got to trust that God has a process in place to rescue you from the corrupting, consuming, internal bruises that are rotting your life from the inside out. You've got to trust that you are in the hands of a master; in fact, you're in the hand of the master which means the hurt from every painful breeze both current and past will subside.
You can not fix yourself. And you can not keep covering the pain with some temporary emotional fix or vice. You can only trust God to orchestrate your repair and bring to your attention the help that you will need to finally resolve the hurt and bring you peace once and for all.
One last thing: The bible says " These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you may have PEACE. In the world you will have tribulation: but cheer up; I have overcome the world …" John 16:33 .
What this scripture means is the God of your salvation already has a rescue plan in place; so cheer up! Pain will penetrate your emotional protective surface from time to time, but cheer up! You may not have PEACE right in this moment, but cheer up! You will have peace; because it's on the way!