Pain (family of origin)
This past week, we learned about how Joseph was deeply betrayed by his family. He went for years without seeing his beloved father and younger brother, and he was deeply traumatized by his older brothers. These types of soul wounds are found all throughout the Bible. Everyone can identify with the pain that comes from being in a family unit – as we learned, even the healthiest families are still comprised of broken people. So whether you were raised by your biological parents, grandparents, foster parents, or older siblings, you know the pain that comes from carrying your last name. Take heart, you aren’t alone in dealing with the pain that comes from generations before you. Let’s consider the journey of the Israelites. In the opening chapters of Exodus, we learn that Joseph has died (Exodus 1:6-7) and after his death, for more than four hundred years, God’s people were slaves in Egypt. The Israelites were working in extreme conditions seven days a week, used to being mistreated, used to being controlled, used to feeling powerless and helpless. Sound familiar?
And then God steps in, hearing their prayers (Exodus 3:7-9), He rescues them from their slavery. He sets them free; He literally splits the sea, and moves them geographically away from the place of their pain (Exodus 14). But what did the Israelites take with them?? Their own soul wounds. They took their own memories of slavery, they took their worn bodies, tired and likely injured from years of grueling work, bearing the scars of slavery. They took their parent’s renditions of the cruelty of the Egyptians, stories of powerlessness and helplessness passed down from generation to generation. Geography could only do so much because the people took their pain with them; their soul wounds were alive in their minds, and it was clouding their view of what God was currently doing. When their soul wounds caught up with them in the desert, they complained to God about their current situation, they complained about their freedom (Exodus 16:1-3). Their soul wounds made them view God through a lens of pain and they actually missed slavery!!
This is what generational pain does to us, and these are the impacts of untreated and unacknowledged soul wounds. If allowed, these untreated wounds will ruin our present day life. These injuries make us feel stuck, make us think there’s no other way to live, and it even makes us repeat the patterns we hate. Like Paul says in Romans 7:15 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”. If all you have known in this life is pain, if you are carrying around the heavy soul wounds from your past, I know it’s difficult to consider that God is a God of love and freedom and with Him, anything is possible. There may have been a time in your life where you were powerless and helpless, but you are NOT anymore. With God’s help, you can take control of your narrative, and begin to heal from these soul wounds.
- What about you? What family pain have you carried with you into this season of your life? What are your soul wounds? Are you trying to outrun your last name? Has God been trying to do something new for you, maybe He’s even answering your prayers, or the prayers of your family members, but you’re still stuck in the old cycle of pain?
- The Israelites forgot that they had prayed to God to save them (Exodus 2:23-25). God moving them to the desert was God answering their prayers! Are you in a season of life you’ve actually prayed for?
- What was enslavement on the surface was actually God doing His work – He was building a nation (Exodus 1:12). Perhaps you’re in a season of life that hurts, but even though it feels bad, is it possible that God is working on your behalf? (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Steps to victory
- If you are noticing your soul wounds flaring up in your mind, keeping you from what God is doing now, perhaps you can do what Joshua was directed to do in Joshua 4:1-9, 19-24 – After God does another miracle for the Israelites, He directs Joshua to have a symbolic memorial erected to remind the people of God’s faithfulness. AND to remind the generations to come to speak of God’s faithfulness to their children and grandchildren.
- Take some quiet time and genuinely reflect on your life, consider what God has done in your life, the moments He’s brought you through, consider His faithfulness, and erect your own memorial to remind yourself that God is good, He has come through for you before, and He will do it again. Your pain, your soul wounds, your family, your last name has nothing on the God you serve.
- And finally, take to heart what Joseph says in Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done…”. Begin to challenge your soul wounds with this verse. Perhaps someone did intend to harm you; perhaps it was even someone who was supposed to love you. But that doesn’t have to be the end of your story, if we acknowledge our pain and give it to God, He can heal us AND He can use our pain to help others, which is actually our pain being used for good, just like in the story of Joseph ☺ “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
-Lisa Lewis, LCPC