Monday, May 18, 2009

To believe or not to believe . . .

When I started this blog, I intended to create a resource for those suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia – I wanted to share what had worked for me in being able to heal from these enigmatic illnesses that have silently sapped the life and strength of millions!

I am beginning to see that this blog is practically a living, breathing entity with a life of its own, and it will take me whatever direction it desires.

Today I feel drawn to share my thoughts about an aspect of receiving desired blessings from God that I feel is poorly understood, by myself included. In fleshing out my ideas here I personally hope to come away more inspired. If anyone reading benefits similarly, then so much the better!

Today in church we discussed gifts of the spirit, including the gift of healing and the gift to be healed. We also discussed the law of tithing and the blessings that can come when we live this law and give 10% of our income to God.

Within the culture of my faith, as well as with myself, I have observed an interesting treatment of the subject of miracles, including the miracles of healing, financial blessings, and etc… On the one hand, we recount stories of miraculous occurrences from the scriptures and from the early days of our church with a sense of pride in our God and in the faith of the faithful.

While on the other hand, we treat accounts of modern-day miracles, or the expectation of receiving them, with a certain amount of trepidation. Sure – we believe that God can bless whom he chooses, and that sometimes those who get blessed big-time might be someone we know, or know of.

But we hesitate to infuse ourselves with the expectation that WE, in fact EACH of us, might be the recipient of undeniable miracles, promised blessings, the windows of heaven opening and showering us with all the desires of our heart!

Why do we hesitate? Well, it’s pretty obvious when you look at most of our lives that not everything automatically goes peachy keen for those who profess God’s name and follow his commandments. In my life, for instance, I had a period of time where I was somewhat embittered towards the faith-promoting stories people used as material for their lessons and talks at church.

There was a time where I felt duped by God. I had given up a year and a half of my life to go to a foreign land and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a foreign tongue at great sacrifice to myself. This experience was full of wonderful and amazing times, and it also kicked the tar out of me. I came home depleted in almost every way, and six months after returning to the U.S. and felt like I was finally integrating back into a normal life, I began to see the “reward” of my labors: a six-year sentence with a severely debilitating illness, financial problems and debt, and then an excruciating marriage and divorce that left me more perplexed and destitute than ever.

What did I do wrong? And why did life seem so much easier for so many other people who didn’t even seem to deserve their blessed status as much as I would? And why was this happening after God had promised me so much??

Thankfully, I was able to avoid coming to the conclusion that I can’t necessarily judge others for coming to, but which causes untold damage to their lives and the lives of their posterity – that God must be a liar, either that, or all this God stuff is a bunch of bunk.

But I found other ways to cope with the disappointment, the grief over feeling passed up and passed over. I allowed my naturally believing heart (which I think most of us are born with) to be shrouded with a layer of cynicism, a few layers of doubt, and certainly a great deal of fear.

I think most of us have been disappointed. Most of us have been disappointed too many times to count. So it becomes easier to live in doubt and fear than with faith. When someone shares with us a miracle that happened to them – and not something that happened 60 years ago during World War II or while in the mission field in Peru sometime in the past decade – it can make us uncomfortable.

It brings us face to face with the question we may not want to consider – if this happened for HER, why didn’t such-and-such happen for me??!! Why would God play favorites?? Why is so-and-so so stinking special, and I’m NOT????

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I have a few insights that have helped me to put away doubt and fear (at least more effectively than in the past), and live with greater expectations in my life, even when current circumstances nowhere nearly resemble what I would desire them to be!

At church today, I shared how when I first discovered I had an illness that wasn’t going away back in 1999, I asked for some elders in my church to pray for me and bless me. They obliged, and I was told I would be healed. But I wasn’t told when.

Years later, I was still asking for people to pray for me and bless me, but nothing could change the fact that at that moment, I was still as sick as a dog.

In retrospect now that it has been over 3 ½ years since my health was miraculously restored to me in a week’s time, I can see that there were some things that needed to die in me before I could be prepared to be given a new life. This process was relatively long, and oftentimes painful.

But what a tragedy it would have been if I had completely thrown in the towel in regards to believing that God would bless me as he had promised!

What has God promised you? What has he promised you personally, and what promises do you read about in the scriptures that he has in store for all that give their hearts completely to him??

Let’s not mistake the period of the “trial of our faith”, the unavoidable times where all our hopes seem vain and all our trust in God appears as foolishness, as the end result of walking the road of faith!

Dreams die, desires are tested, hearts are broken, and patience is put in the fire. We learn to let go of things, even while we still want them. We learn that we are O.K. even when the most precious desires of our hearts are denied us, or taken from us out of the clear blue sky! We surrender to pain. We submit to correction. We are sanctified – made more pure and holy.

And when we can learn to rejoice and glorify our God in these times AS IF all we ever wanted is already ours, when we can honestly tell our Father in Heaven that we trust his timing, we trust his trustworthiness even while we don’t see the fruit, then watch out!!

Sooner or later, and at this point we don’t care if it is sooner or if it is later, we see the miracle!! Whether it comes exactly how we expected, or in a way we never would have imagined, it comes.

Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, all that was messed up and broken within us can be brought to a new life!!

I believe that those who surrender to faith rather than fear will ALWAYS find that the ashes of all the dross burnt off of them provide the best possible fertilizer for the very thing they had been wanting and praying for!

Health can be renewed, relationships restored, finances and material blessings fall from the sky, and most importantly, salvation gained!

This is my hope, for me and for you. =)

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