Posts tagged ‘Discouragement’

Would You Like to Get Well?

 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”  John 5:2-6

This is an interesting question. I am tempted to think it’s a stupid question, but then I remember that Jesus is the one asking it. So by faith I know there is a lesson to be learned from the question itself. Jesus always had a purpose in His interaction with the people around Him. But this man who has been sick for 38 years is in the waiting room of the finest hospital of the day waiting to be healed. Certainly the Master Physician doesn’t need to ask, Would you like to get well? The answer would seem obvious. But what if the cure required a treatment the man would refuse to take? Then the question begins to make sense!

On February 8, 2012 I underwent bypass surgery believing it would be the cure for my cardiac disease. By November of 2013 I began experiencing symptoms of recurrent disease. The question Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda suddenly became a pertinent question to me. That’s because I was discouraged and felt my condition was hopeless. My first response was the same as the man Jesus stood beside that day, “I can’t sir.” (John 5:7)  I had done everything possible for healing to take place and it hadn’t worked. But after a few months of observing my symptoms becoming worse, I reconsidered the question of Jesus, Would I like to get well? 

The very next thing Jesus told the man beside that pool was, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (John 5:8)  When I stopped to listen to His question again, I heard Him tell me the very same thing, “Get up and start walking!” I had been doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself. It was time to make the necessary physician appointments, take a hard look at my dietary choices, seek second and third opinions, and open my heart to the heart of God. Getting up is not easy. Taking up my mat and leaving my despair and self-pity behind has been a faith building experience.

Just as the man by the pool must have been invigorated to walk after 38 years, I feel God’s strength, love, grace, and peace as I walk in His path. I don’t know where this journey leads. I don’t know what all the treatment will include, but at this point all I need to know is that God is telling me to walk! My walk includes constant communion with God, reading His Word daily, journaling His thoughts, living in His will, and seeking the direction of the physicians He sends me to see.

Would you like to get well today? If you do, Jesus invites you take up your mat and walk with Him!

 

Vitality in Weakness

Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”   Psalm 92:14-15

With a recurrence of chest pain less than two years after bypass surgery, I must admit that I felt “over the hill.” It’s easy to allow physical challenges to cause discouragement and even despair. But the Psalmist reminds us that we can produce spiritual fruit no matter how old we get and what physical ailments we have. In fact, our spiritual fruit depends only upon our desire to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within our heart. Such a heart open to the Spirit “produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)  

The way to remain vital regardless of the physical challenges and ailments that may befall us is to live from the heart given to Jesus. He is my Rock. He is my Righteousness. He is my Strength. And He is all of these things because I am in love with Him. I have found a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of my recurrent chest pain. I have discovered a vitality that only comes from a heart devoted to Jesus. When I allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, the desires of my heart become His desires. The burden of dietary restriction has disappeared because I truly want to eat what is best for a heart that has the Spirit of God in it. 

I have discovered that recurrent chest pain has been a blessing. My despair has turned into hope, my fear has turned into courage, my self-pity has turned into self-awareness, my frailty has turned into vitality, and my foundation in quicksand has turned into a foundation on the Rock. What a difference it makes to surrender your heart completely to Jesus. Perhaps for the first time in my life I understand what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 because I have experienced it, “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What weakness do you have that will reveal your vitality?

 

Cut from the Rock!

Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—all who seek the Lord! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.  Isaiah 51:1

I love shopping for granite countertops. There are so many colors and patterns in the various granite slabs that come from all over the world. Granite has different characteristics depending upon its origin. Some granite is very porous while others are stronger and more stain resistant. The quality of the granite is dependent upon the quarry from which it was obtained. 

Humans are the same way. Sometimes we are strong and stain resistant while other times we are porous to temptations and discouragements. And yet we were made in the image of God. We were actually cut from the Rock. Our Rock is Jesus! (See 1 Corinthians 10:4)  Our quarry is God’s kingdom! We can only become porous when we turn away from God and trust in our own strength rather than in His power. 

In my journey toward heart health, I have found a renewed assurance that brings peace and joy into my heart in the realization that I am actually cut from the Rock. No matter how physically sick I may be, I know that Jesus is in me. No matter what happens in the future, I know that I am always connected to Jesus, a part of Him. Even if my heart fails, I am in His heart. Even if my heart misses a beat, nothing can separate me from His heart of love. You see, I am created from HIS quarry and cut from THE Rock. I don’t know about you, but that is incredibly powerful news. This changes everything. Nothing else matters. Why? Because I know from where I came and to whom I am connected.

I now know when I become porous and succumb to discouragement when chest pain recurs or life’s circumstances don’t go my way that I am actually made of granite that is strong and stain resistant. I know He made me from the quarry of His kingdom. I know I was created to worship Him and not my own desires. I know that in Him I have all the power of the universe at my disposal. This gives me the resolve I need to stay in His will. No wonder Paul says in Romans 8:38, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Nothing, nothing, nothing can separate me from God because I was cut from the Rock, Jesus! And so were you!

When you feel separated from God, read Isaiah 51:1 and Romans 8:38. Remember that you are a child of God. That you are a part of Him. That He loves you. And that He longs to be with you. You were cut from quite a Rock. A Rock that changes everything!

 

 

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