Recognition of Healing

This is the third part in a series that began with “God’s Abundance or My Scarcity” and continues with “To Trust or Worry.” Thank you for joining during this busy time of year!

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I sat with two long-time friends in the surgical waiting room earlier this week as a third friend underwent surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. She’d just lost her husband about two months ago, and the worry on her son’s face reflected his fear that mom might be next, all too soon. As I sat, my mind and emotions occasionally drifted to another cancer surgery about eleven years ago that didn’t end well, and I prayed for her restoration.

The three of us women chatted quietly, enjoying one another’s company. Every once in a while one of us looked over at Mike, and then at the clock as time ticked hour past hour, concern etching more than his face. Finally the surgeon arrived and gratefully reported  her cancer seemed contained and she’d taken the surgery well. Mike’s countenance brightened, and our hearts lightened.

I told my friend I’d greet her after surgery, so after my companions left, Mike and I began to converse softly, moving time more quickly from recovery to a welcome glance at her face.

Finally we heard, “You can go see your mom. Her room is on the sixth floor.” The sixth floor…where I met my husband’s co-workers as they shared with me fond memories of years working with him. The sixth floor…where I waited to hear Norman’s last breath. The sixth floor…where I nestled next to Norman for the last time. I hated the sixth floor. Yet, that was where my friend waited for me.

As I stepped off the elevator, sadness seeped into my soul as I turned and faced the well-known small suite to the left of the elevator and across the hall. I stood in the middle of the hallway and stared into the room. My eyes immediately noted a man bent over, familiar lines etching his face as he sat quietly in that chair, leaning his weary head on one arm. The otherwise dimmed room was lit by only one lamp casting a spotlight on his bent forehead. I remembered. And inside I wept once more.

Only this time the sadness didn’t overwhelm, and I realized the healing God has performed over time. It’s too easy to assume healing does eventually occur. Yet, my healing has been long delayed. Only a couple of years ago, during visit to the sixth floor, I needed to leave after about 45 minutes, too overwhelmed with emotion to stay.

Only a year ago, the thought of visiting a friend with cancer was more than I could bear.

I don’t take God’s abundant gift of healing lightly. I’m very grateful. And today, I learned my friend’s stage one cancer was contained and so she’ll need no chemo. And I thank God.

I'm grateful for God's abundance in the face of my scarcity. Click To Tweet

As I faced my friend’s cancer surgery this week, I also remembered past Christmases filled with pain as I wondered what the next year would bring. If this is one of those Christmases for you, I’m so sorry.

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May I also pray for you? 

Lord, we so long for this time of year to be carefree and beautiful. We long to hear the angels sing of a newborn king. We long to feel the warmth of making family memories. We long for our stories to replicate Hallmark. But life isn’t that way. For most of us. Yet, each of us are too afraid to speak out from the depths of our sorrows for fear we’ll upset someone else’s Merry Christmas. May this place, this moment, feel safe for others to grieve their pain.

Help us Lord Jesus to remember that your first Christmas was full of labor pains, rejected families, and outcast shepherds. Click To Tweet May we remember you came for such as us. And today let us embrace your abundance, in the middle of our cancer surgeries, and memories that make us sick inside, and the worries that news may not be so good. Jesus, help us remember that you are 'Emmanuel' God with us. You do care. And if we invite you in, we don't have to face this season, or any season alone. Click To Tweet

Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NLT)

With tender love,

Robin <3

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White Picket Fences

All I wanted was a little white house with a white picket fence. That didn’t seem too much to ask.  After all, I had gone through several years of difficulty with our son, and two years of watching my husband fight and lose his battle with the dreaded “C”. Wanting the rest of my life to be free from suffering seemed reasonable.

In time, however, I began to realize some of the consequences of my dream.  I was no longer as sensitive to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.  I was becoming more focused on temporary pleasures (a nice house, a nice bank account, vacations) rather than on spiritual things.

Oh, I was still going to church every Sunday and having my daily Bible readings.  I was still praying and trying to listen – but my growing desires for ease and comfort were desensitizing me to the fellowship with Christ I had once known. A fellowship that had been rich and beautiful during those excruciating seasons.

God used a dating relationship and the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, to begin my journey back to him.  It took seeing myself through the life of someone who was as I had become; and then realizing through the book what I had lost, to begin to bring me to my senses.

It also took time, reflection, and repentance (turning away from the path I was going, to a new path) to realize that my problem wasn’t the fact I had suffered.  The problem was I had believed a lie – about life and about God. I had come to believe that “suffering” was just a stint – a gig I had to endure to earn my stripes.  I didn’t understand the suffering I had gone through was the very thing that taught me who God is, and what his heart looks like, as his Spirit comforted and embraced me in the middle.

I had also failed to see that by running from any and all possibilities of future suffering, I was forfeiting “the fellowship of suffering“, as Paul calls it in Philippians.  A special bond with Christ borne in sharing adversity together.

God graciously used two other books to soften my heart and open my eyes to the truth:

A Sacred Sorrow“, by Michael Card.  After 9/11, some leaders in American churches realized Christians don’t know how to grieve – or in Old Testament terminology – “lament”. Unfortunately, over time, much of American Christendom had come to believe that to please God we must always be “happy” and “praise him joyfully” – leaving no place for sorrow in worshiping Jesus.

But, we aren’t able to maintain constant “joyful praise” because life throws us hard balls that knock us off our feet.

This book taught me, God is also pleased when we come to him with our anguish and our cries, clinging to him through our grief or lament.  God seeing our lament as a sweet form of worship!  The author used examples from the Bible (Job, King David, Lamentations, some of the prophets, and even Jesus himself) to show how God even blessed those who chose to lament to him, even when their words were angry and harsh.  It changed how I see God and suffering.

David – Seeking a Heart Like His“, a Bible Study by Beth Moore. God called David, “A man after my own heart” (I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).  The study seeks to show how David over his lifetime was able to gain such a recommendation from God and how we too can have that kind of relationship with him.  God used this Bible Study to show me I really hadn’t known his heart for me at all.  I also realized, as I studied the life of David, I wanted more than a “white house and a picket fence”.  I wanted Jesus.  I wanted to know him, and have a close relationship with him.

I also began to realize that this type of relationship with Jesus was the only thing that would really satisfy me in this life, even if it meant suffering.

Did I surrender my dream easily?  No. I now knew the horrendous cost of suffering and it was hideous to me.  Yet, it began to dawn on me I was paying a much higher price by “refusing to allow” any suffering into my world.

When I did finally surrender, there was a sense of peace I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. Did this change everything instantly?  No!  For weeks I had to daily surrender as circumstances gave me choices – his dream or mine?  But the hardest part – the beginning of surrender – was finished.

There have been some pretty tough struggles since, but I am learning to know Jesus and his peace are worth everything. Neither he nor his peace can be bought at any price.  I am also realizing that

White houses with picket fences aren’t worth anything if Jesus isn’t living there, as only he makes a house a home.

 

“…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10 (NIV)

With love and prayers,

Robin <3