Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What Happens When "Nothing" Happens?

Okay.

Corrie and I have wanted to be totally honest throughout the life of this blog.  We want to share the unadulterated truth of our journey, our struggles, and our beliefs even when that truth seems to run counter to what we're going after.

Namely: healing, a deeper and more real experience of the person of Jesus, the kingdom.

After going to that healing conference at Bethel, wouldn't it be a beautiful thing to be able to write to you: I'm healed!  It's done!  Maybe I didn't feel it then, but I woke up the next day, or two days later or whatever and it was gone!

At this point Corrie and I would definitely consider a gradual healing to be a miracle.

Where My Body is at Now

Today as I write, my body isn't feeling all that great.  The joints that were crooked are still crooked.  The fatigue and adrenal exhaustion are still exerting their influence.  And the general pain, though not super intense, is still there.

After the healing conference, I went through a time of feeling pretty bad.  In fact, I had to increase my daily dose of prednisone (a steroid that suppresses pain and inflammation) from 30mg to 40mg.  This issue of prednisone is one that Corrie and I would love to be rid of.  It's typically pretty toxic and can have some negative long term effects.  We really want for me to be able to get off of it completely.

And in the last couple months, we've tried.  I dropped the dose first from 40mg per day to 37.5mg.  Then after two weeks, again to 35mg per day.

But shortly after, my body showed signs of REgressing rather than PROgressing and I had to go back up to 40mg and am still working on regaining my strength.

On the positive side, I have been gaining weight, which is huge for me.  It's nice to be able to hold my own against those light spring breezes  :)

What God is Doing in Us Now

There are quite a few details to that summary of my body's state right now, some of which are quite interesting and carry flavors of the miraculous working of His kingdom.  But those details aren't actually the point of this post.

The point is: We went to a healing conference where miraculous healing was clearly happening, where Jesus was clearly leading us.  Yet, we did not and currently are not experiencing the full extent of healing that we've been pursuing.

So what in the world do we do with that?

Battling this sickness for eight years is hard enough.  It could seem like salt in the wound to come home from that conference with what seems like nothing to show for it.

Offended by Disappointment

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist is stuck in prison with no hope of escape.  He's heard about the miracles that Jesus has done and is doing.  He saw heaven open over Jesus and heard the Father's voice bless him for crying out loud.

But now, in prison, when HE needs rescuing, he doubts.  "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" (vs. 3)

Basically, "Are you really who I thought you were?  Because here I am, needing saving, and you're not doing it.  So maybe I should look for another savior."

I'm going to be bold and say that I think a lot of Christians join John the Baptist in this line of thought...especially when faced with persisting sickness, or any other type of disappointment for that matter.

And I'm going to be even bolder and say that this type of thinking brings death.

I don't mean to be insensitive or cruel.  But I speak from my and Corrie's own experience.  Everything in us wants to ask the question, "WHY?  Why, God, have you not healed me?  We need you to save us, and you aren't doing it.  So now we have to make sense of this current set of circumstances."

But when we dive in to this line of thought, our minds often inadvertently start undermining one of two things, or both: who Jesus is...and...who we are.

Who Jesus Is

Maybe some start looking to something other than Jesus to save them.

But more likely for us Christians, we tend to look to another version of Jesus.

We unwittingly remake him into someone who matches our disappointing circumstances rather than hang on in faith and patience until our circumstances bow at his feet.

This is where, I think, the thoughts come in that say that he must have a higher plan.  His ways are not our ways.  He's building my character.  Maybe he wants to heal some but not others, but not me.

And before we are even aware of what's happening in our minds, we reason ourselves right out of faith and into what has felt to me like paralysis.  And instead of a Jesus who came to bring light wherever there is darkness, to heal wherever there is brokenness, to push his kingdom violently into our existence, we start to believe in a Jesus whose power was great 2000 years ago and will be great again 2000 years from now.  But in the present, he really doesn't do much.

And now the Bible, the written revelation of God, is no longer the final authority on his character.  But our reasoning, our experience has usurped its place.  All of our "if then" statements make so much sense to us.

"If I am still sick, then it must be because..."

And these conclusions SEEM right!
Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
Corrie and I have written and declared over and over and over: Jesus heals.  His name is Healer.  He can heal.  He WANTS to heal.  Even, he HAS already healed.  The Scriptures are absolutely rock solid on this.  Sickness should not stay where Jesus is present.  Therefore, in the body of a believer, sickness is a squatter.  It's illegal, and God has authorized us to evict it.

Similarly, in the body of anyone who is in the presence of a believing believer, sickness is still a squatter.  Because we believers get to bring healing to the world to show them God's overwhelming and REAL compassion.

So if we get offended at not seeing healing yet, and we redefine Jesus, we start to believe that maybe he's not the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Maybe he's not Jehovah Rapha.  Maybe he did not bear our illnesses and carry our diseases (Matthew 8:17).

Or maybe my Father, instead of wanting our family to be free of sickness, which is merely the result of sin and the curse of it, wants us to endure it so that we can get stronger.

As a family that battles sickness, this version of Jesus and the Father is not one that gives me and Corrie life and hope and joy and the will to keep fighting.  Instead it has in the past led to depression and angst and being angry at God.

But if we take God at his Word, his unadulterated, plain and simple word.  Then his goodness, his power, and the sheer magnitude of everything he has made available to us...they bring life!

Who We Are

If, in our offense, we don't undermine Jesus' character, then we are left to question who we ourselves are.  If Jesus is our healer, if the Father takes no pleasure in sickness but instead wants to get rid of it, then there must be something about ME that is keeping me from being high enough on God's list of priorities to think about.


He must not love me or like me or care to invest in me as much as his other children. 

So we beg and plead for God to please come to us, to look at us.  To consider us.  And in so doing we actually accuse God of not being compassionate, of not being caring, or of just being oblivious.

And we start to believe that we aren't worth his time.

But let me just say right now, we--me, Corrie, our family, and everyone in this entire existence--we are all worth all of his time.  We are not worthless sinners saved by grace.  We are precious sons and daughters of the King who were lost but have been redeemed by the high high price of Jesus' blood.  We are worth so much because he has declared it so.  We are worth the very life and death of Jesus.

Unoffended in the Truth

Jesus answers John the Baptist by simply restating Isaiah 61, the commission of the Holy Spirit over his life.
Matthew 11: 4-6: "Go and tell John what you see and hear: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."
What he is calling out to us is this:  "I am still your Savior.  What you are experiencing right now is competing for your loyalty, your heart and mind, your faith.  But do not waver.  Do not doubt.  Do not look for salvation in your own reasoning and explanations.  If you remain in me, if you stay steady in your faith in who I am, who I've declared you to be, in my truth, you will be blessed."

Thankfully, Holy Spirit in us gives us the tenacity to fight this good fight of faith.  We have to fight to take the kingdom.  That's why just a few verses later, Jesus says,
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." (vs. 12)
It is fully ours, and yet it takes a violent faith to keep pushing in to it.

That's where we are.  We are still waiting for my body to reflect the healing that Jesus already paid for.  But we are not shaken in our faith or our resolve at all.  In fact, both are stronger now than ever.  We have seen too much of God's power to stop pursuing more.  We have known too much of his heart to want to find a savior anywhere else.

So, when "nothing happens" it doesn't actually matter.  We keep holding on to the truth, immerse our minds in it, let it permeate our whole being until we're transformed from glory to glory.  But that's a topic for a later post :)

The truth is, "nothing" never happens.  In the kingdom, something always happens.  And that's exciting.


9 comments:

  1. Matt and Corrie!! I'm so glad Megan Hamilton posted your blog post on FB so I found it. I had no idea you wrote a blog. So cool! And WOW! This is so good, heartfelt, honest, real, and I get it. All of it. These things seem to be common to all who struggle with a chronic or lifelong injury. Hard questions and thoughts. Thank you for sharing them.

    Can I share what I've been freshly aware of? Reading through the gospel of Matthew and the book of Acts lately, something that kept standing out to me was that healing and deliverance always came back to advancing the kingdom. It was never (that I've found so far) only about the person being healed, but about those who would be impacted by the healing - it was about each one's relationship with Jesus. And it seems, as such, that sometimes there is more kingdom advancing in us or others as a result of us not being healed. Don't get me wrong, I fully agree with you that God is our healer and he loves us and wants us whole! But what if our not being healed is more impactful in the bigger scheme of things than our healing would be? I hope that isn't discouraging. I actually have been hopeful because of it. Maybe I'm only formulating an answer that makes my (and your and others) illness feel acceptable, but I think it is simply stepping back and looking at a broader scope and seeing that God isn't just trying to teach me something (if only I could get it, I'd be healed! Right?) but that he is using me to encourage, equip and strengthen other believers to have a deeper relationship with him, or lead someone to him because of something they see in me and my faith during a challenge of this magnitude.

    I follow a blog, www.unshakeablehope.wordpress.com, written by a man named Bill. He has ALS. He was supposed to die within a few years of being diagnosed. He and his wife are incredible, faithful followers of Christ. And for 18 years he's wasted away to nothing, unable now to speak or move or do anything. He blogs with eye recognition software. He has been the biggest encourager to me in my illness. He is real, but his faith never wavers. He is dying, but spends what little time and energy he has encouraging the saints. It's unbelievable to me. And it makes me soar on wings like eagles because if he can do it, can't I? And I still pray that God will heal him. I'm sure his family does. And we would all give glory to God. But for now, he has been an amazing source of encouragement and challenge to think bigger than our life (health) on earth. Just a thought. Still working it all through myself.

    One last thing...I recently listened to a week long conference (http://healthyoilsummit.com/ ) on essential oils. I'm pretty sure you guys have researched, tried everything and more, but I thought I'd pass this on. One of the speakers, Melody Watts, was teaching about autoimmune issues because she was very sick with Lyme and other issues. She talked about using drops of frankincense under her tongue making her able to stop taking prednisone. When I read the first part of your post, I was reminded of her great talk. She had so much to say about her experience. Don't know if that is helpful or not. I have a page of notes I'd gladly share. It seems that she is a distributor with doterra, but during the talks no one mentioned companies. I'm not advocating them, only her information.

    Love you guys! I think of you and pray for you often. So does Brendan. We can't wait to hear what God continues to do for your family. I know it will be good!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Laura! So good to hear from you. And thank you for sharing all the things you've been wrestling through on your own healing journey. These are tough questions to be faced with.

      The question that Corrie and I have had to answer is this: Is Jesus using acts of love and healing to achieve his primary end goal: advancing the kingdom? Or is advancing the kingdom (through healing, deliverance, setting people free, restoring them to what God made them to be) the tool he used to achieve his primary end goal of love?

      There are several places in the gospels that make me think Jesus' motivation to heal was just (or at least mostly) to love the person needing healing, not necessarily to advance the kingdom.

      Matthew 8, Luke 5, Matthew 14:14, and Mark 5 are some of those places.

      But even if the primary purpose of healing and deliverance was to advance the kingdom, it doesn't necessarily mean that NOT healing is also to advance the kingdom. The gospels don't have any accounts of Jesus denying anyone healing. If he was wanting to advance the kingdom, withholding healing was not a method that the Bible shows him using.

      Oh, and thanks for sharing that essential oil info. We'll check it out :)

      We love you guys. We miss your family here on the West Coast!

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  2. Hello, I read your blog today. Have you ever had a healing from Jesus before? A miraculous healing? I 100% believe Jesus heals.
    Also, Was Bethel, Bill Johnson's Church in Redding, Ca? Curious, I dreamed about that place a while back.

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    Replies
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  3. I read, followed your links and discovered the answers I had asked earlier. I realize that you were unfamiliar with the way people fall-out under the power of the Holy Spirit, speak in unknown tongues, and manifestations of gifts at work. God moves on people in a lot of ways.
    So sorry you are suffering this past 8 years. I know it's hard to understand. I've had my condition for 15 years. I thought for sure I would have been healed years ago...but I was not. I'm mystified by no healing. I can't rationalize that in my heart and mind. It is contrary to the Word of God. Healing is a natural and a common practice of the Lord.

    Don't give up. Hold on for healing. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will heal you.

    ReplyDelete
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