I want to put forward a brief expression of an idea (brief for me, at least) about the relationship of emotional, spiritual healing and cognitive processes. At the core, I want to put forward that people who are well are cognitively able to take in and comprehend ‘information’ about the goodness of life, both in moral goodness but also experiential goodness. However, what readily happens due to the brokenness in trauma and our acting upon sin is that we began to get cognitively fixated on the badness in life. We may dream of some good we wish we had with the experience of trauma and we may imagine some sense of good from our actions when we sin, but we are not so much processing information but rather trying to assign meaning and purpose (meaning and purpose is important, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all of human thriving). However, in brokenness and sin, our relationship to the world is primarily defined by either experiential badness from the trauma or moral badness from sin. Consequently, we look at what is bad, ugly, and evil in the world.
When God heals, our hearts and minds become open to the goodness of life. We begin to see and experience the world with brand new horizons. For those with trauma, they begin to see and experience the good and joyful things in life. For those enslaved to their sins, they begin to see and discern the way of life that brings goodness to others. When God is at the heart of this, God discloses to the broken and to the sinner His own goodness, both in God’s powerful demonstrations in the world but also, through recognizing God in His self-expression, those who are healed begin to be able to see and recognize the goodness in the world that He created. The oppressed are set free from the burdens of their life. The sinners are given a medicine that can alleviate their iniquity. In all of this, people begin to pay attention to the information of life that points to the goodness of God, both experientially and morally.
Now, certainly, similar types of healings can occur without God’s self-expression and self-disclosure to us where we go from seeing the world negatively to seeing it positively. These are good in their own rights and should be appreciated. Yet, healing via accepting and recognizing God’s self-expression and self-disclosure leads to the emergence of a reliable understanding of the goodness of life. Because the God who created the world has made His will and His wisdom known to us, we are able to more readily to recognize and understand the fundamental, life-giving aspects of creation as it is, along with the new creation as it is emerging within us and will come to complete fruition. Healing through the work of the Triune God sets forth our hearts and minds to be in openness and harmony with God’s wisdom in the creation and new creation. Our lives synergize with the goodness of God’s creation.
However, in order to see the life that God has bestowed onto the world and is bestowing to others, we must ourselves have real life to comprehend true life. I can not understand something that I am not capable of recognizing in the first place. Life must well up within us from the Holy Spirit to see the goodness of the gift of life that comes from God, which comes up within us because we receive Jesus’s words of life. In letting go our own immediately impulses to think we know and comprehend the life of Jesus’ words, we cognitively distance ourselves from the way death has taken a stranglehold of us, both in our brokenness and in our sin, and become open to receiving from the Spirit a transformational comprehension of the life-giving words of Jesus. The life the Spirit is bringing within us causes us to see the goodness of Jesus Christ in His words, which then opens us up to see the goodness of the creation that Jesus as the Logos made, along with the goodness of the new life that He is giving now.
It is here, then, that we may suggest that the gifts of the Holy Spirit begin to flourish, as the very hearts and minds that are necessary to make use of the gifts are now freed to act with the gifts of God’s creative and redemptive power in the world. However, as we grow deeper in our comprehension of God’s goodness, as the wells of life from the Holy Spirit bubble up more and more, it leads us to make use of the Spiritual gifts for the love of building up others, not self-aggrandizement. It is here, then, that God’s wisdom comes to full birth within us, as the goodness of love that has welled up within us from the gift of life enables us not just to begin to recognize God’s goodness, but it enables us to come to a comprehensive vision of the work of new creation in the death and resurrection of the servant Jesus Christ that allows us to understand the world with the mind and attitude that Christ Himself had.
In this case, healing from God is not just about our own sense of self-satisfaction with life, but its telos is towards the comprehension of God’s wisdom, so that in so doing we can align ourselves more and more with the loving, life-giving purpose of God. Healing from God is not just about an inward wellness and thriving, but it brings us to become people who become agents of shalom and thriving for others through our lives being in harmony with the on-going creative, life-giving activity of God in the world.