Healing prayers

God

Have you ever prayed for healing? Maybe you asked God to heal you, or a loved one.

Whether it was a silent plea to what felt like the air, or universe, or whether it was a prayer read aloud from the scripture, you can know that God hears and he cares.

Maybe you, like me, have battled disappointment with God.

If you have prayed earnestly and he didn’t answer your heartfelt requests, it can feel as if God has forgotten or forsaken you.

I know, as I’ve felt that way many times over the past several years.

Four years ago I began having a severe tremor that I’d never had before, and an increasing amount of terrible migraines. If I’m honest, I had never empathized with migraine sufferers before that. The searing pain along with sound and light sensitivity can be maddening and is debilitating.

Soon there were more symptoms. Electric type shocks in my hands and legs. Double vision that made it dangerous to drive, so my friends and kids began to drive me to do errands. My balance was off and I could be quite clumsy and have difficulty standing at times.

My family doctor and neurologist were terrific, although along the way I did see other doctors who implied that the symptoms may be psychological. Eventually, my husband went with me to the Mayo Clinic.

They prescribed a life-altering pair of glasses with a prism that helped correct the double vision. I couldn’t believe the difference and much of the time I could see clearly with the new prism glasses.

During all of this I did the fundamental things that I knew to do as a follower of Jesus. I had laid out my heart with God all of my unconfessed sin, and asked him to show me any sin I was unaware of.

I went to the elders of our church and asked them to anoint me with oil and pray for my healing as the Bible instructs us to do in James.

[James on prayer and healing]

Nonetheless, my healing didn’t come. For these years I wrestled with my beliefs of God. I had come to know God over a decade ago. I had begun to see his character through the scriptures and debunked many of the false ideas I’d had about who he really was.

I rightly began to believe that he is a good father and is always there, even when I don’t feel him or see him at work in my life. This reality stared right in the face of the reality that I wasn’t healed.

I knew and believed that God was able to miraculously heal me. Yet he hadn’t.

Enter disappointment with God. Self doubt and condemnation. Along with well-meant comments from others, this was a recipe for turmoil on my worst days. Did God forget about me? I know I deserve punishment for my sin. Is this as chastisement for something I’ve done?

A month ago I asked God again for healing. I felt a sensation, sort of a wave through my whole body. I shot up the question, “God, are you healing me?” and felt nothing else; heard nothing; sensed nothing.

Later that evening, I flipped my glasses up, then down. Up, then down. I was checking to see if my vision was healed. I wanted so badly for this to be the time. Yet I didn’t want the disappointment again. Nothing, no change.

I woke up the next morning blurry-eyed as usual. Although my vision wasn’t crystal clear, it was better without the glasses than with them! It’s been 5 weeks since then and my vision is still better! I’ve had a day when my vision was very blurry and doubled, yet it was still better without glasses.

Although I’ve still had an occasional migraine in the past five weeks, it is clear that healing is taking place in me. I stand on the truth of what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said in essence when they were commanded to bow down to a statue of God or be thrown into a fiery blaze:

God is able to deliver us from any fiery trial. Even if he does not, he is still worthy of our praise and he is good.

[The king spoke to the three] “But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

(Daniel 3:15 and following, emphasis mine.)

This is a call to persevere in your prayers. God loves you and is concerned with what concerns you.

God is good. Whether he answers our prayers the way we desire or not, his character and heart for us is good and loving. We can’t see everything and understand God’s ways, but we can trust the ancient and relevant words he has given us in the Bible when we don’t get it.

God is listening. God loves you and wants you to turn from self-reliance to relying on him when you are weak.

He is able to deliver and heal, and if not, he is still good.

 

To read more of this story in context, click here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%203&version=NIV

Walk by faith, not by sight

Christianity
IMG_3533

No more progressive lenses, I’m switching between readers and distance glasses.

Have you ever wanted to dance at a doctor’s office? Kiss and hug your doctor? Weep for joy with thanks and gratitude at your doctor’s office? Inside I wanted to, recently, but I could tell by Dr. Romero’s reserved demeanor that I should keep the displays of emotion to a minimum. I simply ended with, “Tell your wife to give you a big hug and kiss.” My happiness was because the doctor gave me a clear and concise explanation for the double-vision and migraines that have been troubling me for the past couple of years. I had a micro-vascular stroke during a severe migraine at that point in time (2.5 years ago) and it caused a palsy in the oblique muscle of my eye, resulting in double vision. Eureka! It all made sense now….

In more simple terms, a killer migraine caused a “short” in the nerve that goes to my eye muscle, causing it not to work properly, so that I now have double vision. That causes a vicious cycle of more migraines and other complications. I’m pretty happy with this news. It doesn’t really change the circumstances, but it does affirm what I’ve been telling doctors and everyone who will listen for quite a while now. My takeaway…we know our own body better than anyone. Except for our Maker. And boy, are we wonderfully and intricately woven together!

Walk by faith, not by sight. These words have a more profound meaning than ever before to me, because without my glasses, I see everything double! Even with my glasses, my eyes fatigue very easily and sometimes I can only do half of what I’d planned in a day. That used to really frustrate me and make me so mad. Kicking and screaming mad inside. Feeling sorry for myself mad.

Recently walk by faith, not by sight means when I don’t have sight, quite literally, because of fatigued eyes, I must rest. Rest can be active, you know. That’s something I’m learning. When I am not sleepy at all and it’s only 1:00pm in the afternoon, but my eyes must rest, I am forced to close them. I have choices in that moment. I can be really frustrated at my situation, and obsess on what I’m not able to do at that time, or I can simply take the time to be still.

Prayers for healing and health

suffering

If you have every prayed for healing, and not received physical wholeness, you are facing a quandary.  There are many assumptions that flow from not receiving full healing. My previous post doesn’t take you through all of the assumptions, only straight to my acceptance. However, I believe that it’s important to de-bunk these wrong ideas that I assumed about my prayers not being answered the way that I wanted.

I have prayed, my family has prayed, my friends have prayed, and we have done as James 5:13-16 instructs Christians who are sick. We continue to pray for complete healing in my body, yet I’m not fully healed. We’ve prayed for many months, and I have no doubt that most of us praying actually believe that Jesus Christ performs healing miracles. We believe He raises the dead back to life, He makes the blind see, and the mute hear. So when our prayers aren’t answered with a “Yes” it caused me to feel several things:

1. I believed that I must not have enough faith.

2. I felt forsaken and unloved by God. It felt as if I was completely unheard by Him.

3. Deep down I felt that I must have done something wrong to be afflicted physically.

I can’t tell you that I don’t think of these things at all anymore, but something about the truth of hearing Isaiah 55: That God’s ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts resonated deep in my soul. This truth corrected my assumptions when I heard this Scripture related to our prayers for healing, and Pastor Brian answered the BIG QUESTION we all have when God doesn’t heal our loved ones. (See this post to link to Pastor Brian’s sermon)

I still struggle. Sometimes what I know in my head to be truth about God doesn’t match up to my feelings. But today I know, deep in my soul, that God loves me and hears my prayers, even when I’m not completely healed. He’s moved and listens to our prayers. You and I can trust His heart when we don’t understand His ways.

Daily bread and health

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The overall theme of my life right now is daily bread.

bread

Do you ever feel as if you don’t have enough time/energy/resources/health to accomplish your daily plans?

I have felt that way and struggled for the past few months because of health challenges. I have often felt frustrated and incompetent because my body doesn’t always cooperate with my plans. With my health situation, I am not sure from one day to the next if I’ll be able to follow through on my daily plans. This can be discouraging and sometimes makes me downright angry. Until a couple of months ago.

In February we visited our friend’s church and ironically, the sermon was about healing. We were reminded that God does hear and answer our prayers for healing. However, He doesn’t always answer the way we want Him too. I don’t want to sound irreverent, but uggggghhhhhhhh. Sometimes He doesn’t answer the way we want. He still loves us in spite of that and His ways are higher than our ways. When He doesn’t answer our prayers with a complete healing, we can trust Him for our daily bread.

Here’s what I mean by that: Like the Israelites in the desert, He lovingly supplies what you and I need each day. Not what I think I need, but what He knows I need.

This truth from Pastor Brian’s sermon has coincided with a study that I’m doing on the Old Testament tabernacle in the wilderness. Just so happens that I keep going back to the subject of daily bread and manna that God provides for His newly freed people.

I am still facing the same physical challenges and health issues, but I’m not so frustrated and angry for the past couple months. I am trusting God for my daily bread. On the days when I feel like it’s only a few crumbs, I’ve started asking God what does He want me to do with the bits that He’s provided for that day.

If you have thirty minutes, check out this great video of the sermon that I mentioned above.

God’s Plan for Your Life Sermon  Click on 02.03.13 Healed

You’ll be glad that you did!

Photo credit: Vegan Richa  Richa is one of my favorite food bloggers. Beautiful pictures with delicious vegan food.

Thoughts

suffering, truth

Most of us have experienced things in our life that cause us pain. I have endured, survived, and thrived after pains, joys, traumas, and the normal ups and downs that are common to man.

For many years I struggled to make sense of traumas in my youth, abuses to me and to people I love. I agonized over trying to make sense and reconcile two realities that I know are true: God is love, and He was there; and there is real evil in the world and there are people who do horrible things.

I can’t tell you exactly when or how it happened, but one day I suddenly realized that I no longer was pained over these two coexisting realities. Glorious freedom and peace ensued. It’s not that I had it all figured out, but just that I made peace with the fact that I would never figure it out.

However, I am faced with the frustration of this type of thing again with physical limitations in my health. I do know that God is love. He is fully aware of my plight and cares for me. At the same time I am not fully healed. This causes me to feel as if my brain is on overdrive at times.

I know that you and I cannot make sense of evil and sickness and suffering in the world and the truth that God is real, He is present and He is all-powerful. My assignment for myself this week is to stop thinking so much and to stop trying to make sense of it all.

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Instead, I will meditate on truths that are real and unchanging. God is good.

Psalm 119:68

You are good, and what you do is good; 

teach me your decrees.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

 

Photo credit: charlottesiems.com

 

Not who I wanna be yet

Cancer, Christianity

Sometimes I want to be further along than I am. Let me explain. My friend Connie recently had surgery for cancer. She’s one of these super-gentle, soft, rare people who just ooze loving-kindness. (Totally opposite of me: loud, sometimes crass) I absolutely love her! A couple of days before the surgery, I asked her how I could pray for her. Wanna hear how she answered? That God would be glorified. I was speechless. I mean, I love God. Immensely. And I want Him to be made famous through my life. But I can honestly tell you that if I wasn’t trying to act all spiritually mature, I wouldn’t answer the way Connie answered if asked the same question. I would probably have said something like “Pray that it won’t hurt, that they’ll get all of the cancer” or “Please pray for my doctor.” I want to be able to answer the way she did, with God’s glory as my number one concern if I was in her situation.

Sometimes I just want to be more spiritually mature than I am. I am also finding that I can’t “fake it till I make it” with this stuff. I can only be super-honest with myself and God. It’s okay if that’s not where I am yet. I can ask God to grow me so that His glory and fame is more important than my comfort. I’m not who I want to be. Yet.

Pretzel brain

MS, suffering

There are times when we can be our own worst enemy. Take the past two weeks, for instance. Facing the real possibility that I may have MS has been on the forefront of my mind. In the past two weeks, there have only been a handful of days that I have been well enough to do some of my normal activities. That’s got me thinking a lot about suffering and why God allows it.  I have asked so many questions:

Is this a chastisement for a sin? Is God really enough for me? Why??? Will I ever feel better? Jesus is a Healer; will He heal me?

I’ve had plenty of time to think since rest has been mandatory, make that TOO much time to think….sometimes it felt like my mind was twisted into a pretzel!

nightbaking.blogspot.com

Honestly, I’ve been wracking my brain and studying the Bible to see how Jesus responds to the sick and suffering. I’ve read blogs and books on the topic. Friends have given their perspective. Nonetheless, I felt like I have been hitting my head against a brick wall trying to make sense of it all. It’s finally boiled down to these simple truths that I know: God is love. (1 John 4:8) He is good, and everything He does is good. (Psalm 119:68) When I don’t understand my circumstances, I can trust the heart of God to do good things in the midst of difficulty.

Here are some of the things I’m learning:

1. Humility. Self-sufficiency is being stripped daily. I am having to admit that I am weak right now. Words cannot express how much I hate that! Admitting that I am physically weak and need help is good for me; I just don’t like it. A friend recently pointed out that this is a good thing, because if we aren’t needy people, how can we recognize that we need God?

2. To accept help. I’m learning that I can only accept help from others after I have embraced humility and let go of self-sufficient pride. I’m American, so I was born with the “pull up your bootstraps and git ‘er done” mentality. Accepting help flies in the face of all that Americans hold dear. There is a balance here, because if I let myself get into a victim-type of mentality, there would be the temptation to just give up on an active life and let people do everything for me. Accepting help has been really hard for me. It’s simple things, like carpool and making dinner or cleaning the kitchen, or laundry, that are revealing the sin of self-sufficiency in my heart. I believe God’s heart is that instead of self-sufficient, we should be God-sufficient. How can we accept free gifts from God like love, salvation, or grace, if we can’t let our friend help us with carpool?

3. People love me. Wow. People love me. And they want to help.

4. Some things are beyond my ability to understand. It’s healthy to read and research a topic concerning God, asking Him for insight and clarity. However, there comes a point when we must accept the reality that our finite minds can’t comprehend the magnificent complexity of God.

franchisefool.com

Psalm 119:68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.

1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

LOL. Is there any other way?

Christianity, depression, freedom in Christ, joy, new creation

People say I have a distinct laugh. Which means it’s really obnoxious and loud. I have really tried to tone it down or make it more lady-like, but it still seems to come out as a sudden, loud, burst of unrestrained laughter. This means that my “distinct laugh” is really more of a guffaw. I also have the world’s gummiest smile. You can see most of my teeth and gums…and I just can’t help it! Yesterday in church they played a beautiful song, Restoration, by David Brymer. The lyrics are repetitive and also profound. This is what got me to thinking about my boisterous laugh.

Although I have had a real relationship with Jesus for the last fourteen years or so, I have continued to struggle with depression off and on. Sometimes I wonder if depression is even worse as a Christian. That sounds weird, but here’s why I say this: Being a Christ-follower can bring a whole new dimension of guilt. For example, when you aren’t able to pull yourself out of a dark place or season of life, you reason that Jesus is enough and if you only had enough faith in Him, you would be free from this. There’s a real tension here, because it’s true that Jesus IS enough. He is all-sufficient, He is healer and powerful to overcome death, depression, or any sickness. So what do we do with the reality that sometimes these maladies remain, in spite of the truth that we know about God and His ability to take it away or heal?

There’s not a clear-cut answer for this question, at least in my experience. All I know to do in these times is to cling to God’s truth, and cry out to Him, being honest about how I am feeling. It helps to read the Psalms aloud. They are authentic and raw, and no matter what season of life you are in, there is always a Psalm that can articulate our complex feelings. This song that was played yesterday echoes Psalm 30 and reminds me of what a joy it is that I laugh too loud and have a cheesy smile that I can’t seem to tone down. It’s because Jesus has held on to me when I have felt too weak to hold on to Him. He brings restoration and healing to our souls.

Here are the lyrics:

You bring restoration
You bring restoration
You bring restoration
to my soul

You’ve taken my pain
called me by a new name
You’ve taken my shame
and in its place, You give me joy

You take mourning and turn it into dancing
You take weeping and turn it into laughing
You take mourning and turn it into dancing
You take my sadness and turn it into joy

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
You make all things new, all things new

You’ve taken my pain

This video is about 10 minutes long, but if you only listen for a minute or two, you’ll hear the powerful lyrics that echo the greatness and power of God to bring restoration.

My comfort or God’s glory

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It turns out that a lot of the time that I’m praying, it’s because I desperately want my comfortable, safe, little life. I had been dealing with some severe back pain and went to a prayer and healing meeting at our church. These are pretty rare, but I went. I was desperate and wanted relief and to have the back pain gone. At times it was incapacitating and I believe that Jesus is still a Healer. However, I wasn’t prepared for what happened. The small group that prayed with me was our youth pastor, Patrick, me, and my husband. It was unique because Patrick has the same exact injury that I was dealing with, so I thought: Yeah! He will really know how to pray for me!

I was shocked and disappointed when he prayed out loud, “God, we are asking for Your glory, for you to make Yourself famous, more than Christine’s comfort.”  I was indignant. In my heart, not out loud. I was appalled that he didn’t just outright ask God to heal me.  After all, that’s why I came! Then I had to ask myself, which one do I want more, my comfort, or God’s glory.  Thankfully, the two can coexist. But at that moment, I had to really look at my heart and make a choice. Through clenched teeth (not really, but I did have to say it slowly and deliberately) I was able to give up my agenda of telling God what I wanted Him to do and how I wanted Him to perform, and seek whatever good He might want to bring if I was not healed.  By the way, I didn’t experience immediate healing, but the back pain has gotten progressively better over the past several months.

Is God still a miracle worker? Yes. I’ve been dealing with this question all week because one of our kids has been in severe pain with an injury.  Wow, that’s a hard prayer, to ask God for His glory more than our comfort.  I’m not trying to be a martyr, but I do recognize that while I may think the best thing is for God to give the pain a holy zap, He knows what is really best.  I don’t.

My friend emailed this verse as an encouragement.  It’s written by the apostle Paul as he’s talking about a physical ailment that he’s suffering with:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10