There is a word in Scripture that describes a unique and personal way that God reaches the hearts of his children. This word does not describe a public proclamation. It is personal and intimate, more like pillow talk. It is not given to a group. It is given to the person on the other end of the conversation. It is the way God delivers wisdom and counsel to the heart. It is also the way God heals the broken. The Hebrew word for this is “cowd” (pronounced “sode”).
Yesterday a woman contacted me who was in her third day of what psychologists call severe depersonalization. This can happen when you become so disturbed that your thoughts don’t feel like they belong to you, or even your own body doesn’t feel like it’s yours. This woman would look at herself in the mirror and see someone else’s body. When she walked, it felt like someone else’s feet were moving, not hers. She had not gotten a minute of sleep and could not function well enough to get normal things done in her day. Depersonalization is also an extreme form of something the Bible calls brokenness, and it is something Jesus said he came to heal.
As she described her struggles, I asked God what I needed to know to help her, and I felt an impression of “acceptance.” Having no idea if this was correct, I said, “I’m hearing God say ‘acceptance.’” She almost physically collapsed in front of me. This was a beaten down, broken little girl inside of her, so badly damaged that it almost took her breath away just to consider the possibility of finding acceptance in the world. There are times when the noise of our wounds is so loud that it drowns out our ability to hear God, so he has to speak through someone else. Once I realized that God had indeed spoken to her through me, it was as if a dam broke.
God drew a picture in my mind. I saw her in an apartment making dinner. Someone else was in the room, a man. After reading the paper, he stood up and spoke to her as an equal partner. You could see in the picture that she had never been treated as an equal. To her surprise, when this man opened his mouth, verbal abuse didn’t come out. He didn’t find something wrong and beat her into a worthless puddle with it. He spoke to her because he valued her and wanted to hear back. As the picture continued, she began to look like someone just starting to breathe after being underwater so long that she thought she would never breathe again.
This picture was for a part of her that was still stuck in the past, in a home where she was beaten with bricks when others were paddled, where she was made to believe that her very existence was wrong. This part was an abused little girl watching herself through the eyes of the adult’s body. This little girl had lost faith that anyone would ever speak to her with respect. God had me tell her that she not only had those kinds of people in her life today, but that she is worthy of being in a respectful conversation.
The words kept flowing. She learned that she wasn’t a mistake. She was planned by God and is supposed to be here, and that she has a respectful place in this world today. She gained strength with each sentence. After about 20 minutes, her depersonalization had decreased about 95 percent, and she began to look like an adult rather than a disheveled child. The last bit was cleaned up with an illustration of her going forward into an uncertain life with one hand on what she was doing and the other hand in God’s, who knew how to guide her. Then, with one final breath, it became safe to look someone in the eye and open her mouth without fear of being hurt. She told me that she felt safe to be herself for the first time in 40 years.
This was not therapy. I’m not a therapist. This was her Heavenly Father lovingly sitting down with his wounded little girl and reexplaining life to her. When she found that she had him as her Father—safe, respectful, loving, and understanding—her heart started to blossom, and the little girl grew up. Since this part of her was no longer an inner child, she blended with her adult self and no longer existed as a separately traumatized portion of the mind. In short, she had been healed.
This was God taking part of a heart that, in biblical language, had become a wilderness, and bringing it back to life. In Matthew 11, that is what Jesus points to when John the Baptist asks Jesus, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answers from Isaiah 35, a passage that describes the wilderness (the heart) blossoming and rejoicing. Jesus is speaking to a discouraged John with a personal, cowd word saying, “John, don’t you understand? This is what the fulfillment of your ministry looks like. You were the voice crying in the wilderness. I’m the one who brings this wilderness back to life.”
The idea of the wilderness in Isaiah is rooted in the Garden of Eden. That luscious garden is a symbol of a heart in perfect fellowship with God and others. It is a picture of the Great Commandment in life, loving God and loving others with nothing standing in the way. That is what Satan came to ruin, and the way he did that is of utmost importance. He attacked Eve’s identity, convincing her that she was not good enough.
Herein lies the power of the story of the fall. We know today that identity damage is at the root of all emotional pain. That pain is because something caused us to feel less than others, unloved, or unworthy. Satan went right to the root of who Eve believed she was, and that kind of pain demands to be medicated. So Eve took of the forbidden fruit. She medicated her wound with something other than the one who made her enough, and things spiraled downhill. That is how Genesis describes the downward spiral of the heart, and it is incredibly accurate psychology.
When we believe that we are not enough, are loved less, or are worth less than others, our heart shuts those things out of our life in proportion to how real those things feel. When the damage is bad enough, part of the heart shuts down completely, emotional stability is lost, and the foundation of a mental disorder is in place. That is what happened when Cain killed Abel for no justifiable reason. Cain’s damage was so bad that he could not find his emotional footing, and in his irrational state, he murdered his brother.
This is the setting in which the Messiah was promised—broken hearts, losing their connection with the Father, medicating with something other than Him. It’s no accident that Jesus announced his mission with the promise to bind up the broken-hearted (Luke 4:18), for this is what he came to heal.
That is all that happened that afternoon with the woman. God spoke, and I relayed the message. I didn’t hear the words I received verbally. I didn’t literally see the pictures. It wasn’t an overwhelmingly telegraphed message. It was gentle impressions on a heart that, over the years, has gradually increased in sensitivity to God’s voice.
Proverbs 25:11 says that a word fitly spoken in the right time is like apples of gold in settings of silver to the soul. That is exactly what God’s cowd words are at a personal level. This can happen with another person over something as simple as a cup of coffee. You don’t have to have a 20-minute download. All it takes is a single sentence or word spoken in the right moment.
To hear cowd words for someone who is struggling, listen for words that are uniquely meant for the other person. Listen for things that minister to them in that moment. God’s healing words are always life-giving, never judgmental. Let that be your filter. You don’t have to get it perfect. If you’re not sure, ask them if what you are sharing seems to help. One truth at a time, the living Word of God can heal the identity damage at the root of the worst wounds we can carry.
Healing a lifetime of wounds involves more than I describe above. But the other day, a woman who believed she didn’t have enough value to enter into a normal conversation with others took a significant step forward in life.
When you are struggling, you don’t always have to go find a Bible verse. Even if it starts with a Scripture, healing usually happens with a cowd word from the Lord. The results will be the same whether the word is delivered by God directly to the hurting person or whether they come through a friend. All God needs is an opening to get his personal truth into the heart of his child. Be willing to listen, then take a chance and speak what your heart receives.
To learn more about how Jesus imparts the authority to for the works of God to flow through you by hearing first then acting, see The authority to build the kingdom here.