Tag: comfort

Jesus teaches and heals

Jesus teaches and heals

Luke 6:17-26

There are lots of accounts in Luke’s gospel of Jesus teaching and healing and casting out demons because these are the things that he saw first hand and heard about from his friends and he knew they would be impacting on those who read the accounts later. We can’t deny that miraculous healings are pretty incredible and great reading material!

As well as the healings and demon removal service Jesus provides, this chapter goes on to tell us about Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of heaven. He tells us that the Kingdom of heaven is for the poor, hungry, sad and those who are hated and insulted by others because they follow Jesus. All of these people will be blessed and be rewarded greatly in heaven and so they should be full of joy for what is to come to them.

Such lovely words. So comforting and easy to listen to. Of course, He doesn’t stop there though. He goes on to say that those who are rich and greedy, and who laugh at the followers of Jesus will be the ones to be sad and cry when everyone else is blessed. He finishes by explaining that those who receive only compliments on the earth should be worried because if you are a faithful follower of God, like our ancestors many years ago, we would be facing conflict from them and our lives would not be easy (obviously this does not mean we should not be kind and compliment one another, but rather to expect negativity if we are doing our job as Christians, sharing about Jesus, properly!).

Jesus does not want us to be comfortable. He wants us to risk a recognised, powerful position in society, and a comfortable life, to spread the Good News with those around us and love and obey God.

That is a challenge if ever I heard one! Hopefully, if we work together, it is achievable. We may mess up and not always acknowledge Jesus when we should, but if we recognise it and repent for doing so, we can start from scratch and try harder the next time to give our lives and the glory to God all the time – even when we’re embarrassed or doubting.

Glimpses of Heaven

Glimpses of Heaven

Occasionally, we hear stories either in the news or from people we know, that someone has either seen or visited heaven. This often seems to happen when the person is either very ill or injured very badly (i.e.’Heaven is for Real’ and ‘Miracles from Heaven’). Sometimes we might struggle to know whether these people really have seen heaven or whether they have imagined it or perhaps something in between – maybe God sent them a picture/ sense of heaven for comfort. Although we might argue about this, it is harder to argue that people in the bible who were described as having seen/ been to heaven really did or not. Why would God put those stories in the bible if they weren’t true?

There appear to be only 7 people in the bible who saw heaven, or a glimpse of it, including Jesus who was said to have seen heaven upon rising out of the water following baptism:

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:9-11 (NIV)

Before Jesus’ time on earth, there were only 3 people mentioned who saw glimpses of heaven, Elisha, his servant and Ezekiel:

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV) (thought to be chariots and horses from heaven as they appeared out of nowhere).

Ezekiel saw many glimpses of heaven which are all spoken about throughout his book but it begins with chapter 1, verse 1 which says:

1In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. – Ezekiel 1:1 (NIV)

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were also Stephen (Acts 7:55-56), John (Revelation 4:11) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). If you want to know more, you can read their stories in the corresponding passages.

Have you ever wondered what heaven is like? Perhaps you’ve always imagined it as a place full of clouds and unicorns with big golden gates with a fancy house sat behind them with God in a big throne and angels all around, or maybe the image in your mind is more like those in the Scriptures.

As I write this, it is gone midnight but I am still awake, ironically, not because the pain is too bad, but because for that 1 in every 1000 times I take pain medication, it has really worked and the pain is almost totally gone leaving a calming tingly, relaxation. When you live with chronic pain, this is a rare feeling so when it happens, I like to lie still and enjoy it – which is exactly what I’m doing now! To me this is as close to a glimpse of heaven as I’ve ever had. A life without pain and suffering and with an overwhelming joy and peace. 

There is a song that I first heard back in 2013, at the start of my chronic illness journey, called ‘You Hold Me Now’, which is written by Hillsong and goes, ‘No weeping, no hurt or pain, no suffering, You hold me now, You hold me now, no darkness, no sick or lame, no hiding, You hold me now, You hold me now.’ This song has come back to me recently whilst I have been thinking about this post and I think this is a really good, yet probably simple, description of what heaven will be like. No more pain, suffering, fear, shame, upset, darkness, just joy, hope, peace, love and comfort.

Therefore, although those short moments in my life when the pain is gone are infrequent and irrelevant to most people, to me, those moments are glimpses of heaven. In the same way, I see heaven when I see a rainbow that reminds us of God’s promises of hope and when I hear the birds singing and feel peaceful and even when I taste something good. These are all God’s blessings to us and small bites of what heaven will be like. I am quite content and excited by the things taking place in my life right now, but I am also so excited for the day when I come face to face with God and get to see heaven in all it’s fullness -not just glimpses but full 20/20 vision, luminescent, panoramic fullness!

Have you had any glimpses of heaven this week? No matter how big or small they might seem, they are glimpses of God’s goodness and what is to come for us in eternity.

Finding comfort in the quiet

Finding comfort in the quiet

I had been thinking about what my next blog post would be about and then I got caught up in the chaos of Spring Harvest and the Easter weekend. The only day I had to stop and think was on Saturday just gone, also known as Holy or Easter Saturday. I had logged into my Twitter account (twitter.com/youbelong_2019) when it first struck me that Holy Saturday was one of the only days in the year that the Church didn’t have much to say about or speak into because on that day 2019 years ago, ‘the heavens went silent’ and what is the Church without God? Nothing. So instead, more often than not, churches don’t talk about it and instead they jump forward to Easter day and the excitement of Jesus’ resurrection.

I completely understand the desire to do this because we know what is coming and like children on their birthdays, we just want to run downstairs and open our presents of hope and eternal life. But on the very first Holy Saturday, Jesus was dead in the tomb, the disciples were all alone and they thought it was all over. The plans they had put in place had fallen apart, their best friend and teacher was gone and they couldn’t see a way out.

This feeling is very relatable for me and other members of the chronic illness community and no doubt, for many others who perhaps are grieving the loss of health, a job, a person, financial stability or a dream. Every morning I wake up tired and in pain and I know that tomorrow will likely be the same because that’s what being chronically ill means — it doesn’t just get better. This is difficult as someone who identifies as a Christian to be in because I believe Jesus died for me, I believe He rose and I believe He will come again and that I will ultimately be relieved of my pain and suffering but I don’t know when. It could be tomorrow or it could be in 70 years when I die on earth and enter into eternity in Heaven. My life has become a waiting game, a continous Holy Saturday. I know something better has been promised for me but the reality doesn’t seem to be pointing toward it.

So how do we live in a world where all hope seems lost, accept the suffering and find comfort in that yet be ready and willing to step forward and embrace a life without pain and suffering as and when the time comes?

My immediate thought is ‘I won’t look to the disciples for advice on this as they thought all hope was gone when Jesus died even though He told them to their faces that He would die and come back again and even when He was standing right in front of them, alive again, some of them doubted.

Whilst at Spring Harvest, I had the opportunity to hear Pete Grieg speak about his family’s time of suffering and waiting when his wife was ill with a brain tumour and the effects of that and how he knew she wasn’t going to die but the doctors had said there was a high chance that she might and to prepare for that. He said he couldn’t prepare for that because he wasn’t going to let God take away his wife and his children’s mother. This leads me to my first point — when we get to know the character of God, we can learn His will and desire for His people. God doesn’t His people to suffer so Pete knew that this was not of God and therefore, he could pray to God, according to His will, and God would be listening and doing His part. When we learn God’s will, we can pray into and against situations and if we pray believing God can do it, you will be surprised at just how often He acts in the way we want, because it is also what He wants.

Sometimes though, God doesn’t act in the way we want and I am sure that many of you, like myself, have prayed for your physical suffering to go away and it hasn’t and that isn’t because God wants you to suffer because He doesn’t. He loves you and cares for you and seeing you suffer hurts Him too. But sometimes, God has other plans for our life and healing our physical selves isn’t part of it — yet! I have prayed many times for healing and although there have been times it has lessened or temporarily improved, I still deal with pain and physical issues on a daily basis. So lesson two, remember God’s faithfulness even when He doesn’t act how or when you want. This can be a struggle but by remembering God has answered your prayer in the past, whether in relation to your health or something else entirely, can really help you to remember He can, and will, do it again. He is a faithful God. Even when Jesus had been dead for 3 days and the people thought it was all over, He came back to life. Jesus promised He would rise from the dead, and He did. He promises us He will heal us and comfort us, and He will. We just need to be trusting and believe He will be faithful like He promised.

Finally, finding the balance between being comfortable with the current situation but not so much that we aren’t open and ready for healing. This is a constant struggle for me. Some days I am so confident that God will heal me any day now and some days, I accept my situation and won’t be open to others praying for my healing because I am not ready for it. How can we be comfortable but also wait with anticipation for when God wants to act in our lives?

I don’t know the answer that will work for everyone but there are a few things that have really helped me that I hope might help you too:

Patience is a fruit of the spirit so it will not always come easily as it will take time and practice so don’t get angry or upset if you struggle with this — most people do

Learn to rest on God’s promises — remember all the things God has done for you whilst in this period of waiting and recollect the times when He has acted on His promises to remind you of His power, goodness and faithfulness.

Be still — it’s so easy to get frustrated or worried about our situations that we don’t sit back and listen to God but when we do this, we might just hear something that brings us closer to an answer to our prayer.

Be comfortable resting on God and waiting BUT always ready and willing to step forward should you feel God telling you to do so as it might just be the way that you will be healed and you don’t want to miss that!

I am not perfect and I still have times when I fight with the anxiety of not knowing, when, where, how will I be healed. Sometimes, I am too scared to act when I feel God is calling me as I am scared it won’t work or will be difficult, but I keep pushing on and trying to get closer to Him to understand His will and ways. I hope to always be ready and waiting for Him to act but also content just to be with my God and I hope these pointers can help you get to that point too.