Healing Is A Choice
Once there was this man who was an invalid for a very long time. He lay on a porch near a pool of water with many other individuals who were blind, lame and paralyzed. This man had been in this condition for 38 years. He may have had a roof over his head and he may not. He may not have had enough clothes to keep him comfortable. He may net have had much more than a blanket for his bed. At any rate I'm assuming it was a miserable existence, just laying there day after day, year after year. Perhaps he had a home to go to at night, perhaps not. One day someone came along and asked him if he wanted to be healed. The man replied that he didn't have anyone to help him get to the pool where he thought healing was supposed to happen. He added that even though he tries someone always gets there before him. Sounds like a pretty discouraged man, don't you think?
When people are abused it causes all kinds of damage, with scars that often remain for life. Some people choose to stay in the midst of the pain while others seek healing. I look at people's lives, including my own, and I observe. What I see is that if we want to be healed and ask God for healing He will see to it that it happens even though it is a life long journey. When I mentioned this in our women's group the story above was shared as an example(which can be found in John 5). It almost seems like the man at the pool had lost hope and Jesus healed him.
Sometimes we deny we have issues. We just want everything to be good. We don't want to deal with the hard, painful stuff of life. Sometimes we just find ways to criticize others because it takes the focus off of ourselves. Other times we just make ourselves so busy that we can't even think straight. Or we become micromanagers trying to control everything so that we don't get hurt more.
But when we stop and acknowledge that we have problems that need dealing with, healing can begin. And it matters where we turn to for healing. God usually works behind the scenes. He can use anything He chooses. It may come in ways we never dreamed.
There are so many stories in the Bible of healing and also no healings. Let's look at them:
In the Old Testament:
- Elijah: after he had a mountain top experience of being a vessel God used in showing who the real God is, he fell into a depression and fled for his life requesting that he might die. How did God respond? An angel brought him food twice and let him sleep. After he had traveled for over a month he came to a certain mountain and God asked him in a still, small voice: What are you doing here Elijah? No condemnation. No criticism. Just a question. And listened for the answer. Then He gave him something to do. (1 Kings 18-19)
-Joseph: he was his dad's favorite and his brothers were jealous. So jealous that they were going to kill him but changed their minds and instead sold him as a slave. Then in Egypt and perhaps even along the way, he wasn't treated right either. Then he was falsely accused and put in prison for a number of years. Finally God opened up the door for him to one of the highest seats in the country in which he turned around and used his position and wealth to bless the very ones who had treated him so roughly years before. In the naming of his 2 sons you can see that God had done a lot of healing in his life. He called the one Manasseh, for God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. He called the second Ephraim, for God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. (Genesis 37,39-50)
-Naaman: he was a captain in the king of Syria's army. He had leprosy, a dreaded disease. On one of there raids they brought back a small Jewish maid who suggested to Naaman's wife that there is a prophet of God who can heal him. So he went to the prophet and the prophet told him to go wash in the Jordan river. He was too proud to do so and it made him angry until he decided to listen to his servants and do it anyway. And he was rewarded by being healed. God was also working in the young girl's life in that she doesn't seem bitter at all but rather is using her place as a way to point someone else to God. (2 Kings 5)
-Jabez: his story is in the midst of a whole line of genealogy but there was something about this man that needed to be shared. I will just share it here: Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked. In that culture your name was indicative of your character. Yet this man cried out to God and God had mercy on him and blessed him. It doesn't say anything about his life before he cried out to God but often it takes hard things to bring people to a place where they cry out to God. Perhaps he suffered a lot of pain beforehand. Maybe he was aware of how much a person's name affects their life and he was terrified it will happen to him as well. We don't know. We just know that God heard his prayer and gave him what he asked. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)
-Job: the Bible says that Job was the richest man in the east. In one day he lost everything. Then he was sick physically on top of that. His wife told him to curse God and die. But he didn't. Instead he was bluntly honest with God and asked questions. In the end God gave him more than he had before...
In the New Testament:
-The woman at the well: she had a past of 5 husbands and was living with yet another. She would come to the well at noon in the hottest part of the day when everyone else stayed out of the heat. No doubt she was dealing with a lot of shame and perhaps other things. But Jesus took time for her by giving her attention and a listening ear, answering her questions and guiding her back when she tried to avoid painful subjects. After she realized who He was, the shame had no hold on her, for she ran to the village to tell the men that the Messiah was here. I have no doubt that her journey to healing continued after that encounter with Jesus. (John 4)
-The woman with the issue of blood: she had depleted all her means just trying to get help and healing physically but nobody could help her. They tried everything they knew. She was considered unclean by law and was not supposed to be in public or touch others lest she make them unclean as well. Somehow she decided to take one last risk to get help by finding Jesus. She no doubt had heard stories of others being healed and believed she could be as well. No doubt she was weak but somehow she had the determination to press through the huge crowd of people just to get close to Jesus. Perhaps she dealt with a lot of shame because of her condition and thought that if she could just touch the hem of his garment and be healed, then she could just disappear into the crowd and go back to living life again. But Jesus didn't let her. Him being God, I'm quite sure He was aware of her and her need but wanted her to proclaim what happened to her. Therefore He asked who touched me? When she saw she couldn't hide she came front trembling and explained why she touched Him. Jesus then blessed her and not only was she healed physically but I'm guessing she no longer carried the shame but rather was healed from the emotional scars as well. (Mark 5)
-The woman caught in adultery: there aren't many details about her story except that she happened to be the one caught in adultery, used to set a trap for Jesus.When they brought her to Him accusing her and saying that the law commands such to be stoned, he didn't say anything but bent down and wrote on the ground. The men kept pressuring Him because they wanted to see what He would say. They didn't care about the woman at all. Finally Jesus stood up and said that those with sin can throw the first stone. From the oldest to the youngest they were convicted of their own sins, dropped the stones they held, and left the circle. When no one was left, Jesus asked her the obvious question: where are your accusers? She said she didn't know. He replied that neither does He condemn her that she shall go but not sin again. Imagine the liberation. Imagine the joy. Imagine the amazement and wonder she must have felt. Another life had been touched by God and pardoned...(John 8)
-Lazarus and his sisters: they were good friends of Jesus and He would stop by on His travels. Lazarus got sick and died and his sisters were heartbroken. When Jesus finally showed up they couldn't understand why he was so late. They ended up showing Him the grave, and Jesus wept. He mourned with them. He shared in their grief. But then He did what only God can do: raise someone from the dead. He reunited them with their brother, who may have been their sole provider. Mary felt so indebted that she anointed Jesus's feet as she wept and wiped his feet with her hair. He also stood up for Mary when her sister Martha was peeved that she didnt help her get the food ready but instead sat at Jesus's feet which He proclaimed would not be taken away from her. More healing...(John 12)
-The widow and her son: There was a widow in the town of Nain and one day her only son died. It must have been a dark day for her, for in that culture she had not only lost her husband who was her protector and provider but also her son who one day inherit his dad's land. They were heading out to bury him, not knowing that Jesus was coming from the other direction with his disciples and a large crowd of people. When both crowds met on the road Jesus knew what was happening. He acknowledged her grief and told her to not weep. Then he touched the bier and the bearers stopped and Jesus told the young man to arise and He delivered him to his mother. Everyone who witnessed this was gripped with fear and glorified God. We can only imagine the depth of gratitude and joy in that mother's heart that day. Another story of restoration...(Luke 7:11-17)
-Nicodemus: he was one of the Pharisees. A man who knew the law. Also a man who was afraid. He came to Jesus by night. There must have been something about Jesus that drew him. He had questions. Jesus answered them. It was hard for him to understand how someone could be born again. Later on he defended Jesus in front of his colleagues in a roundabout way. When Jesus died he was one of the ones who helped bury him. That's where his story ends in the Bible but I would not be surprised if he ended up being a valuable asset to the Kingdom of God...(John 3,19)
-The little children: They are precious to God. Mothers brought them to Jesus so He could lay his hands on them and pray for them. Just what all that entailed I don't know but I honestly wish I could have been a little child there at that time. One day the disciples rebuked the people but Jesus told them not to. He wanted the children to come to Him for he said that of such is the kingdom of God. (Mat. 19:13-15) Over and over parents came to Jesus with their children who were sick and wanted Him to heal them. Other times they came and asked Jesus to come or even just say the word and they believed that they would be healed. There was the 12 year old daughter of the ruler of the synagogue who had died and Jesus brought her back to life again. A woman from another country came and asked Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter. I'm sure there were many more who aren't listed but it seems that they have a special place in God's heart. He also speaks very strongly towards those who would offend(Matt. 18) and provoke them(Ephesians 6:4; Colosians 3:21).
-Mary Magdalene: We don't know anything about how she got to where she did but by the time Jesus showed up she had 7 devils which Jesus delivered her of. She then had the privilege of being the first person to see Him alive again. Another life changed by the touch of God.
-One Sabbath day when Jesus was in the synagogue there was a woman in the congregation who could not stand up straight. When Jesus saw her he called her to Him and laid His hands on her and healed her and she glorified God. The leader of the synagogue got angry but Jesus asked him If they can lead their animals away to water on the Sabbath should not also this woman be loosed from Satan's bounds on the Sabbath day?
I was just going to share the first few paragraphs in a Facebook post, but then
I started getting all these ideas of stories in the Bible that I could share of what can happen in a person's life when the person turns to God for help. As I was compiling these stories I also thought of how we are given an example for how to care for those who are hurting and struggling in our midst, we who are to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we walk through our life here. Things that I've noticed are the most helpful to me as well.
First of all, healing is a choice. It takes effort and much hard work. It is an up and down journey. It matters who or what we turn to for healing. If we turn to things the Bible says is wrong then it won't help. We may think it does but it won't in the long run. We need to learn how to set boundaries and learn how to have healthy relationships. For those who have suffered abuse this is incredibly difficult to learn. There are also seasons where we need safe people and friends more than others.
Some of the things we can learn in how to help those hurting in our midst:
-Meet their needs. Remember Moses? God didn't scold him or criticize him. He let him sleep and gave him food to nourish his physical body.
-Listen. Ask questions. Some people process by talking and everyone likes to be listened to. A sad or hurting person is usually not looking for a quick response. Quick responses can often do more damage than good.
-Give a hug or some other kind of physical touch. Jesus touched many people when he healed them. Gentle touch can do much good.
-Weep or be sad with them. A sad or hurting person may feel gaslighted or invalidated if someone tries to joke with them, make them smile, or just give them a quick verse about trusting God or some other verse a person may think fits the situation.
Here's a few things people have said to me that I want to be careful to never say to others:
*They say when you make up your mind, you can learn to like anything.
°The problem with this is that too often people are already doing the best they know how and saying something like this will only raise the bar and make them feel even more pressure to perform.
*I'm worried that you're going to depend too much on people.
°The problem with this is that in certain seasons of life we will need more support than others. The close relationship you have with a family member the other person may not have therefore they need others to come alongside and support them whether it be a church family or friends and at times professional help.
In saying all that, when people try to give well-intended but unasked for advice or encouragement, we on the receiving end can just thank them and go our way. At times it will make the pain and struggle even more excruciating and confusing. Depending on the person's position in our life we may have to limit our exposure to that individual if it has only negative effects on us for our own good.
There's a book that I have that I went through with a counselor some years back, I don't even remember which counselor, but I just happened to think about it again and pulled it off the bookshelf and began reading it again. It is called Healing Is A Choice by Stephen Arterburn. Each chapter begins with a choice and the lie we tell ourselves. The first choice is to connect our lives with others. The lie is that all I need to heal is just God and me. I must say that this is probably the biggest one I've struggled with. Being vulnerable can be excruciatingly painful, especially for those who have had their trust broken more times than we can count. It is wise to take some time to observe people and watch them do life and before trying to find mature people to open up to.
Healing Is A Choice by Stephen Arterburn. Each chapter begins with a choice and the lie we tell ourselves. The first choice is to connect our lives with others. The lie is that all I need to heal is just God and me. I must say that this is probably the biggest one I've struggled with. Being vulnerable can be excruciatingly painful, especially for those who have had their trust broken more times than we can count. It is wise to take some time to observe people and watch them do life and before trying to find mature people to open up to.
Earlier I mentioned how someone said to me that they're afraid that I'm going to lean on people too much. I already had had one heartbreak in my life when I finally allowed myself to open up and then the relationship ended with me being even more traumatized plus many other smaller ones and I was trying to be cautious and yet God made us for relationships and to need each other so I trying to let my walls down with people I thought were safe. Perhaps they couldn't handle the weight of the things I was sharing so I am trying to not share as much. Instead some other relationships have blossomed instead. My sister shared how she wishes she had a mom like a certain person in a traveling music group. I told her to pray about it because I used to wish so too but now God has brought many "moms" into my life and I go to each one for certain things, some more than others. I believe there's time in our lives that we need people more than others.
The second choice is to feel your life. The lie is that real Christians should have a real peace in all circumstances. So often those of us who grew up in religious circles have been taught they shouldn't show negative emotions etc. I know I was made to feel like I should always have a smile on my face. Growing up my parents would take their frustrations out on me and I would take it out on the younger ones till I got hurt often enough that I learned to stuff it which can cause health problems if not dealt with. If you ever read through the Bible you probably saw that God has all kinds of emotions and He expresses them. It would do alot of us immense good if we would learn to express our emotions in healthy ways.
There's a total of 10 chapters and I think I would tell myself just about every one of those lies and more. It is a very easy to read book with examples of his own life. I would encourage others to read it as well. You may be able to find one at the thrift store. It has a workbook to go with it. But here's a link if you're interested: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=0785212264&clickid=3-R0AMw5oxyIR811SZ0SoyHbUkG2BBVnARU-2s0&cm_mmc=aff-_-ir-_-64613-_-77416&ref=imprad64613&afn_sr=impact
Now how about a few stories about people who didnt get healed because they disobeyed or turned to the wrong source? Here's a few:
-King Saul: God chose him to be the first king after Israel came out of Egypt. Before they had judges who were responsible to teach the people and solve problems. He did well till he became jealous of someone else and his life continued spiraling downward as he disobeyed God again and again until he ended up going to a witch for advice and then being killed in battle. A sad end for one who once had God's blessing on his life...
-Cain: his brother Abel and he were the first children born in this world. They were the first ones mentioned in bringing an offering to God. Abel's livelihood was sheep so he brought the best of his flock. Cain brought fruit from the things he grew because he tended the ground. It seems that he would have known what God wanted him to bring because his offering was not accepted and Abel's was. His response was to get angry. God asked him if he did what was right wouldn't he also be accepted? Then God warned him to be careful what he does with his anger because if he's not careful it will ruin him. And it did. He chose to kill his brother Abel. He refused to take responsibility for his anger and God had to punish him...
-Jereboam's child: he was a king who did evil in the sight of the Lord. God saw that he would not be a good king and that his children would not follow Him except his one child God chose to spare him of the evil that would fall on the land. A sickness fell on him and Jeroboam told his wife to disguise herself and go ask the prophet for help for their child. God knew what was happening and made the prophet aware and gave him a dire message for the king and told her that when her feet touch the threshold her child will die.
I was thinking that there was another story in the Old Testament where a king was sick and he sent a servant to the temple of his idol to see if he could be healed but the prophet of God met him and said he wouldn't get a positive answer because he didn't go to God for help like he should have but perhaps I have several stories mixed together. Let me know if you know where I can find this story.
This got way longer than I expected. I found it very encouraging, causing me to want healing in my life even more. In short I think that God is the one we are desiring healing from it will not be in vain. I'm just amazed at what God has done and is doing in my life. I never dreamed I'd be where I am today. We all face hard times but ultimately it makes us people with a better character if we let it despite the scars and wounds we deal with because of what we went through. Each journey is unique. Each one is important. But healing is a choice that only we can make for ourselves. Others can want it for us but if we aren't wanting it for ourselves than we will remain like gnarled up old trees whereas healing can make us be like a tree flourishing by the waterside. Even the Bible talks about it:
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalms 1:3
What are the conditions that make it so?
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalms 1:1-2
There is a saying that says bad company corrupts good manners. The Bible says it as well:
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
If we have friends who don't love good healthy things but maybe gossip, slander, stir up things, are divisive not building each other up or holding each other accountable to do what is good and right by God's standards, we are in danger of being pulled in an unhealthy direction. It makes it even harder if a person was conditioned to obey without questions. I still have so much to learn but now I no longer regret the things I've gone through because it has given me experience that can perhaps help another avoid similar situations. It has made me more sensitive than I wish I was sometimes. I still deal with pain and anxiety and triggers which will probably be a life long thing but if God can redeem it and use it for His glory, that's what matters to me. This verse has encouraged me time and again and if you're wrestling with something from the past I hope it will also give you hope:
Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.
“The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you. Joel 2 :23-26
I know this is talking to Israel, but I believe it is God's desire to restore and redeem all who come to him, no matter how broken and battered they are. No matter how much trauma they went through. No matter how much abuse they suffered. God cares for each of us. We are precious in His sight:
But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.
Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
God cares about what we are going through. We just can't see the end like He can. Wednesday night we started the book of 1 Samuel and I have to think of Hannah who was barren and the other wife would make life miserable for her because Hannah couldn't have children like she could but she also saw that Hannah was more loved than she was. Hannah was so grieved that she vowed to God that if He gave her a child she would give him back to God forever. But what Hannah didn't know was that it was God who shut up her womb. What would have happened if God hadn't shut her womb? Israel would not have had Samuel as a great prophet and judge to lead them. There's so many other things that could have been different as well. The story might have ended differently for hannah as well. God may have something good planned that we can't see right now. I certainly didn't see any good for me to be alive when I was a teenager. Life was hell on earth, trying to survive each day without getting hurt. If I hadn't gone through that I'd be a totally different person and I'm glad I'm not.
Anyway, I just keep rambling but I hope that this has spoken hope and encouragement. Perhaps it helped you see the next step. May God bless you as you seek healing for the hard things you have gone through. They were hard and they hurt but you don't have to stay there. It may be hard journey but don't give up. God sees the end from the beginning.
11He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
14I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
He cares for you...and me...we are precious in His sight...