Tag Archives: healing

Breakthrough in Strength-Day 20

Strength comes as we give life to others. It’s another of the Bible’s beautiful ironies. Jesus said it this way: “Whoever would gain his life must lose it.” We’ve focused on finding strength in the Lord through 21 Days of Strength.   At times, we may discover that strength–even healing–comes when we’re encouraging someone else.

I can still remember that steamy, hot August day when I experienced this truth firsthand.  I was sitting beside the shallow end of our local YMCA swimming pool.  Our daughter splashed happily in the waist deep water with a little girl she’d befriended a few minutes earlier.  Her name was Janie.   The child seemed a bit insecure and quite needy.  No wonder.  As I watched the interactions between Janie  and her very surly father, one thing was clear.  This little girl probably lived in an angry home.  My heart went out to her.

Now, since our daughter was a toddler, she’d had a fear of water. Our happy and active child was fine in the shallow end of the pool but terrified to put her face in the water. A well-meaning swim instructor had once tried to “dunk” her under the water to teach her how to hold her breath.  After that, my strong-willed preschooler resisted learning to swim.  She informed me in no uncertain terms: “Mommy, I don’t want to swim now, or ever. And when I am a teenager, I will walk through the water.” Our family had always loved the water, so I wanted her to enjoy swimming.  Plus, I couldn’t trust her to be safe in the water since she couldn’t swim.

Earlier that same summer, my husband and I had made the decision that we would enroll our daughter in the public kindergarten that coming fall, rather than the local Christian school. This decision came with lots of prayer, but also some apprehension.  This was back in the days of forced busing, and our school drew from some rough neighborhoods.  Quite likely, a few of our young daughter’s classmates would come from fragile and broken families. How would my five-year-old handle leaving the “cocoon?”

Deep in thought, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation next to me between two moms who were discussing how excited they were that their daughters Brittany and Sally would be kindergarten classmates at the nearby private Christian school in the fall.

My heart sank a little. Were we doing the right thing for our daughter? Should we have considered Christian school?  Instead of the “Brittanies and Sallies,” our daughter would be with the “Janies”—the broken, hurting, unpredictable Janies of this world.

The two little girls continued splashing in the shallow water. Suddenly, I caught my breath as our daughter stood up up in the waist deep water and did a beautiful dolphin dive beneath the water’s surface!  I sat there in awe as she began swimming under the water halfway across the pool.  My “terrified to get her face wet” five-year-old emerged from the water laughing and playing, completely unaware that something of a miracle had just occurred.

I looked at my watch and realized it was exactly twelve o’clock noon.  Quietly, the familiar words from one of my favorite verses,  Isaiah 58:10, swept over me: “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

At exactly twelve o’clock noon, the “night” of my child’s long-standing fear of water had become as “noonday.” While she was busy loving on a little girl named Janie who needed a friend, our daughter experienced a breakthrough in a long standing fear of water.  And I found my own faith strengthened, along with a sense of peace that God could be trusted as He called us to this new adventure.


Behind Closed Doors-Day 3

There is strength in getting alone with God. Jesus knew this full well. The Bible tells us He “withdrew often” to be alone with the Father. How much more should we?

So glad you’ve jumped on board for our 21 Days of Strength. There’s no more important task on earth than seeking God. When trouble hits, I’ve learned to go into my room, shut the doorand seek God through His Word and prayer.  

Sometimes God may close doors in our life so that we have the time and space we need to draw close to Him. We get alone to shut God in, and to shut other things—like distractions and discouragement—out. Think about it. Some of God’s greatest miracles have happened behind closed doors:

A man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house. His only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. While Jesus was still speaking to the group, Jairus received word that his daughter had died. Jesus said to him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (Luke 8:41-50 NIV).   When Jesus arrived at the house of Jairus, He did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s mother and father” (v. 51).

In other words, Jesus shut the door. He shut some things—and people—in. And he shut others out. Then Jesus took the little girl by the hand and said to her, “My child, get up!” (v. 54). Her “spirit returned,” and at once she stood up, fully revived.

We see another shut door in 2 Kings 4. A young boy died, and his mother ran to the prophet Elisha for help. When the prophet returned, he found the boy dead on the couch. Elisha shut the door and went in with the mother where the two of them prayed for the boy. The prophet prayed fervently, and the boy was restored to life. Yet another miracle occurs behind closed doors!

So when you are weak, worried or weary and need to strengthen yourself in the Lord, remember to go to your room and shut the door to be alone with God.

For reflection: God has asked that we be quiet for a while, go to our rooms and shut the door. But take heart. Some of God’s greatest miracles occur behind closed doors.


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 19

“Jesus, are you willing to heal me?”  The man was desperate.  He was covered with leprosy–a terminal case.  His condition was hopeless.  Lepers were untouchables, so he was ostracized.   An outcast.  Jesus was his last ditch effort.  Face in the dirt, he crushed any remnant of pride…and begged.  His plea was simple. Just ten words: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus answers in half as many words and performs a miracle.  “I am willing.  Be clean!” (Luke 5:12, 13 NIV).

Let’s meditate on this passage in a different Bible version:  While he was in one of the towns, Jesus came upon a man who was a mass of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he prostrated himself before him and begged, “If you want to, Lord, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, placed it on the leper, saying, “Certainly I want to. Be clean!”  (Luke 5:12-13 PHILLIPS).

Notice this version uses the word “want.” The Greek word, thelo, is translated “want, will, desire,” or even “wish.”  Thelo also indicates a “pressing on to action.”  Jesus not only wanted to and was willing to heal the guy. He took action!

In an instant, Jesus changed the man’s condition from hopeless to hopeful!  The leper’s plea can be considered a type of prayer. The word deomai, translated “beg,” describes a specific, urgent prayer.  The leper’s answer came swiftly.  His desperate cry for healing was consistent with the will of God for that man in that moment.

Alignment with God’s will is the key to powerful prayer, as Jesus taught His disciples in The Lord’s Prayer: Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). This is a strong petition. It’s an imperative—more of a demand than a request—and better translated:  “Kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as in heaven!”

God’s will is done perfectly in heaven–so heaven becomes the template for our earthly prayers. It’s almost as if Jesus wants us to shake our fist and shout as we decree that God’s will be done on an earth still crawling with enemies.

So how do we know God’s will? My short answer is this: Read His Word.  Saturate your heart daily. Grow so close to your Good Shepherd that you know His will, obey His will, pray His will.  And when we pray according to God’s will, our hope springs to life.


30 Days of Thankful: day 27

In addition to her training as a counselor, my friend Rebecca has unique gifts of wisdom and insight that help her guide others to spiritual health and wholeness. She shares her journey of how giving thanks helped her cope with her own loss.  After reading Rebecca’s words, I believe you’ll feel like you have been blessed with a personal counseling session with her–you may even be changed by her insights.

GUEST BLOG: Rebecca Woodman

Gratitude is a choice, available to anyone. It is a choice that holds the power to change our entire perspective. It is a choice that turns into an attitude and an attitude that can then become a habit. Learning to be thankful and practicing giving thanks can be transformative in taking negative thoughts and finding positive return, ultimately blocking toxic emotions.

Scripture tells us in Psalm 100:4Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” Begin your conversations with God, the Creator of the universe, and your conversations with the people who He has placed in your life with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Some of the ways that I help those who come and sit on the couch in my counseling office understand that his/her current struggle does not have to ruin or dictate life is by helping the client understand how to look for the gifts and be grateful, even when life is throwing its fastest curve balls. Encouraging those who are challenged to find the positive to think of one thing each day for which to be thankful. Some questions to get folks started could include:

  1. What is one thing that is going well in life right now for me?
  2. How do I see that my needs are being met?
  3. How can I help someone today? Who would that be?

There is a difference between feeling grateful and being grateful. Feeling grateful is a response to a benefit. Being grateful is a way of life. John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Research on benefits of gratitude from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology help us to understand that there are psychological, physical and interpersonal benefits to a heart filled with appreciation. Those who understand how to be thankful are found to be more alert, energetic, have higher scores on scales of happiness and optimism, achieve better sleep, have improved immune response, are shown to be more helpful and connected, feeling less lonely and isolated, among many other positive outcomes.

I personally learned after the loss of two sons born stillborn that counting our blessings was one of the only ways to survive the pain. Counting my blessings when at my weakest state helped me to gauge my healing and served as a marker in time – recognizing all that was good, even in those moments when the tears fell so easily. Thanking God, even in the midst of a storm, is really an expression of faith. A thankful heart can bring about faith and faith can move mountains. Author Charles Dickens said it as, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.”

Our Life Group has been memorizing Scripture together weekly and it has been a pretty cool, unifying experience. This particular week, our verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” THIS is God’s will. Even if there were not all of the positive benefits to uttering a simple “thank you” and even if I had not learned in the midst of struggle to look for the hidden blessings, I would still be convicted by Christ’s words that HIS will for my life is a heart of appreciation. I will choose gratitude.

 


30 Days of Thankful: Day 10

He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done (Luke 17:16).

Today I learned some simple lessons from a leper about being thankful.  It’s Day 10 of our 30 Days of Thankful.  I’ve been pondering the story about Jesus healing ten lepers. Only one comes back to thank him. But there is so much more to the story. Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on this passage:

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you” (Luke 17:11-19 NLT).

All ten men are on their way  to see the priest.  The priest must perform the religious ritual for lepers to be pronounced cleansed.  As they went, they were healed–even before they got to the priest.

But only one of them is thankful.  Look at his response:

  1. He runs back to Jesus.
  2. He praises God as he goes.
  3. He falls to the ground at Jesus’s feet–thanking him profusely.
  4. He displays humility.

Jesus is incredulous that none of the others come back.  Only one out of ten.  Ten percent.  Only the one gives glory to God.  Honors Him for healing him.  “Stand up….and go,” Jesus tells the Samaritan leper.  “Your faith has healed you.”  The word for “healed” in the Greek is translated solo.  It also means “saved.”

Was the man also saved?  Had he acknowledged Jesus as his Lord?  He was the outsider–not only a leper but a despised Samaritan. He was nothing more than a pagan, according to the Jews.  Yet he was the only one out of ten.  The ten percent.  The one who gave God glory.

I want to be in that ten percent today.  To notice when Jesus acts.  To stop my plans.  To go back to Jesus and thank Him–give Him glory. I want to be that one.