Trees and humans both have healing mechanisms built into the way they’re made. This gives us a metaphor that can teach us a part of how God wants us to look at healing.
Trees can withstand many injuries—wildfire, wind, losing limbs and invading species.
Similarly, our bodies can be pushed to the limit as we explore the reaches of God’s creation through outdoor adventure. And injuries from those experiences, while unfortunate, are part of the risk we take and why we prepare for contingencies before we embark.
But what about the things we can’t prepare for in the adventure we call life?
When we weather the storms of life, our souls and spirits can become distressed or wearied. God created us to have an extraordinary ability to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Trees Create Seals Around Injuries
Trees do not heal, they seal. When a tree encounters injury, its approach is to isolate the injury by putting callus or walls of scar tissue around the wound that will keep the damage from spreading and killing the tree. It allows the tree to continue to grow and flourish in spite of that injury.
For the duration of that tree’s existence, it will carry that wound deep within its structure. We see this when trees are cut down and the years of their life are examined by looking at the tree rings.
Thick rings indicate healthy years. Thin rings show when the tree struggled to have the resources it needed to make it through the winter. Knots or burls show where a tree made a last-ditch effort to survive after infection or injury.
It’s amazing to see how trees have these defense mechanisms built into their chemistry and biology! And we also see how the human heart and mind have a similar defense mechanism in times of pain or hardship.
The Human Need to Heal
When the human mind experiences trauma, it compartmentalizes. We separate the experience from the rest of our memories so we can continue to function and survive until the hard season is over.
However, while it may be fine for a tree to carry that injury for the duration of its life, that is where the difference emerges in what God has in mind for us.
For people, this is a short-term strategy. We are not meant to remain with closed-off areas of our hearts and minds as the tree does.
In us, those places will eventually start leaking mindsets and reactions that aren’t healthy or sustainable. They may allow toxic perspectives and habits to form. We’re not meant to spend our lives putting up walls, trying to continue on when there are places of brokenness within us the Lord wants to touch.
We’re not meant to have parts of ourselves closed off due to past hurt. The Bible tells us God sent Jesus to the earth to bring redemption and restoration. The Holy Spirit in us makes all things new.
Joel 2:25 says “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”
God wants to provide restoration to all. In contrast, trees survive by creating scar tissue that will remain a part of them for the duration of their lives.
So, what does it look like to be different? What does it look like to walk boldly into the unknown territory of healing with the Lord as our companion?
When past hurt and pain bring a lens of isolation and compartmentalization, this is where we look at the tree and do the opposite. Christ asks us to open our places of hurt and pain and enter the healing process. God comes as Jehova Rapha, the Healer.
Sometimes God shows us where He was in those memories and it redefines the memory and the way we see ourselves. Other times the Holy Spirit brings truth to break off lies and strongholds. We open up to the Holy Spirit and to safe people around us to walk forward into healing. To find a new way, transformed from the inside out.
God’s Goal for Our Healing
The goal of healing is not to conceal, but to reveal. And in the process, to acknowledge and walk forward into a transformed life with courage. In this way we do not hide from the pains of our past, nor does our past control us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says we are new creations in Christ. The power and blood of Jesus transform us from the inside out.
The Bible uses the Greek word sozo to describe our salvation. It means we are healed, saved, and delivered. Jesus said on the cross “It is finished.” Trees are not capable of replacing or repairing damaged tissue. But Christ can repair the places where we have been hurt and make our hearts whole again.
Ideas for Journaling
As you think about this idea, see below a few questions to ask yourself as a journal prompt or devotional, or with people you trust in a Bible study or discussion group:
- Have you sealed anything God might want to heal?
- What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today about how those closed areas are affecting you and others around you? If you feel prompted, ask the Holy Spirit to begin this journey with you today.
- Where can the sozo power of Christ bring new meaning to the power of restoration in your life today?
- As you read this, how did your heart respond?
- Are there any next steps you feel led to take?
(This content was adapted from the devotionals of January 11-12 written by Emilie O’Connor in Heaven and Nature Sing. These photos are also courtesy of Emilie.)