Tag: healing

Jesus’ power is from God

Jesus’ power is from God

Luke 11:14-23

There are some situations in which Jesus heals people from physical ailments by casting out demons inside them. Not all physical conditions were or are, caused by demons or other spiritual matters, but this one was. The man was mute as the demon inside him was mute, and in Matthew, we are told he is blind too. That must have been scary for this man and those around him.

In the last week, a broken tooth that I have been waiting to be taken out, has become very painful as an infection has started to build up in there – gross, I know! It doesn’t compare to being made bling and mute by a demon, but it is majorly distracting and nothing seemed to be making it better, so I prayed and asked God to take the pain away until I can get it seen to and get the pain managed with medications and antibiotics to stop the infection spreading. You might be wondering what this has to do with Jesus casting out a demon, but I promise I am getting there!

I have been chronically ill for more than 5 years. For the first few, I prayed that God take the conditions away, but He didn’t do that. Instead He brought me peace and contentment in my situation and gave me great doctors, friends and family members who have helped me in a variety of ways. Since then, I have prayed only for symptom control. For higher pain levels to be lowered, for energy to be increased and for my body to be able to get through a busy day, so when my tooth started hurting really badly, I prayed to God and asked Him to control the pain. I felt Him telling me to be patient, Then I fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, my pain was 10 times better, and my regular medication controlled it well. I immediately thought of God and how He must have answered my prayer, but then I realised that if my tooth isn’t in pain, the root must be dead, otherwise it would still hurt.

In the events that unfolded in Luke 11:14-23, the people saw a man with a demon inside him making him mute, but then Jesus came along, and cast the demon out, and the man could speak again. Though they had seen this take place, they still thought Jesus must have used the power of Beelzebul as only he could command a demon out.

In my situation, I asked Jesus to remove the pain, and believed He could, yet when He did, I made up a reason for why it got better without involving Jesus in that. When Jesus came through, I didn’t think it possible. Why did I do that?

Somehow, I don’t think I am alone in this. Miracles don’t happen in spectacular ways in my world in the same way they did when Jesus was on earth (or at least I am not aware of them!), but they do still happen. We need to remember that, so when God does something for us like removing tooth pain, giving us more energy, or providing food when we need it but can’t afford it, we recognise it and thank Him for that.

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.

When a miracle doesn’t feel like a miracle

When a miracle doesn’t feel like a miracle

Just over 2 weeks ago I lay inside an MRI machine for almost an hour whilst the technicians moved the table back and forth with me on it to get images of my spine and surrounding tissue. 20 minutes in the pain hit me hard but I couldn’t move or I would risk damaging the quality of the images that were taken which might mean I had to lie still even longer whilst they re-took them. My eyes filled with tears but I got through it.

Today is day 3 of lying in bed trying to find that comfortable position that doesn’t seem to exist whilst at the same time, battling with nausea, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, the side effects of the tablets I have been taking in the hope that they will at least reduce the pain a little bit. I have already had my pain relief changed to a different tablet which can be taken alongside other pain relief I was taking for my regular daily pain, but the doctors won’t give me more until the MRI results are in and we know what is causing the pain.

I know that Googling symptoms is never a good idea but in my desperation to find answers and relief, I typed in ‘back pain’. A lot of the results that came up were not relatable as they talked about back pain caused by injury or short term pain. Mine has been progressively getting worse for 18 months after waking up one day in pain without seemingly any cause. As I kept scrolling I found an article from a hospital which stated that the use of MRI scans in diagnosing back pain is generally not recommended as very often it will show some ‘issues’ which many people have but that they are not aware of therefore, it is unlikely that these issues are the cause of the pain.

I was diagnosed with mild/moderate degenerative disk disease and schuermann’s disease a few years ago but the medical professionals didn’t feel that these issues were capable of the causing the pain I was experiencing then and I was told to simply ‘get on with it’. Now, the pain is 10x worse, I am terrified that when I get the letter with the results on through the post it will say ‘nothing to comment on’, i.e. no issues that would give a reason for the pain I have been having for the last year and a half.

I know of some people who would be giving God the glory for that because no issues on a scan means that there is nothing serious that needs to be addressed, no operations needed or drastic treatment methods. It would be the miracle everyone had been praying for. I don’t know if you have every experienced back pain (statistics would say that it is more likely that you have than haven’t), but when you have back pain that goes on for many, many months without much relief, it changes the way you move, live and feel emotionally and can even affect you spiritually. I most definitely have struggled with the mental and spiritual battles that come with long term pain and other symptoms associated with chronic illness and it is no easy feat. If the MRI comes back showing nothing that can/ needs to be addressed, I know I will struggle with the mental and spiritual aspects at an even greater level as just because the medical world can’t see my pain, it doesn’t mean it goes away. The pain stays there but I have to continue to fight for medication and care and support and even fight with God for some kind of answers in order for me to make peace with the situation and with Him.

In his book, ‘God on Mute’, Pete Greig told the story of a university peer who despite his young age, showed a great amount of faith. One day, he hurt his back and was obviously struggling with the pain but one day, he came over to Pete and told him that he had been healed, “it’s just the symptoms I can’t get rid of’, he said. I think we can all agree this is rather silly. If my MRI results come back showing nothing, it doesn’t mean I have been healed of whatever was the problem if my back is still keeping me awake at night.

When I spoke to my physio shortly after the MRI she was concerned by some of the symptoms I have been experiencing and said that she would keep an eye out for my results. That was the first time that anyone had believed my pain and had been concerned by what could be going on. Now, if I get a clear scan back, of course I will be happy that the possibilities that my physio had considered to be the cause of my pain are not the cause as non of them are very pleasant diagnosis, but at the same time, how can I move forward when I am so much pain all the time and no one believes me or is willing to treat it or dig deeper into what the cause might be?!

I don’t often go forward for prayer at church simply because I have done so so many times before and yet I am still ill and therefore I figured that there must be a reason for it but in the depths of intense pain, I took myself forward for prayer on Sunday morning last week. As I stood up, I was hoping that they wouldn’t try to tell me I had been healed or tell me it was my fault if I wasn’t, or even worse still, if it made them feel bad when they weren’t able to make me better (I know that sounds ridiculous but that’s just the way I think). I was thankful that none of the above took place but that they instead told me to come back for prayer persistently. They didn’t even follow this up with “until you are healed” so maybe I will go back again and see if God has something to share with or do for me – a miracle like other Christians thought, but not necessarily a medical miracle.

To sum up this rather longer than intended blog post, yes, God can and does still do miracles but a blank scan or blood test doesn’t necessarily mean a miracle, particularly if the person is still in pain or symptomatic. Perhaps the issue is just not visible in that method of testing or the illness is too early on in its progression for it be picked up by scans etc. If you know someone who is going through testing for a diagnosis due to debilitating symptoms, please remember that not all ‘miracles’ are actually miracles at all, but rather the result of imperfect medical testing, and sometimes these ‘miracles’ can actually cause the person involved to struggle with their faith more. Miracles don’t do that. Real miracles are God’s way of caring for His children and helping us see Him in the world we live in. If the ‘miracle’ of a blank scan doesn’t do this, it isn’t a miracle and shouldn’t be treated like one. This person will need lots of care and support and prayers so if you can, offer to help them, whether that be attending appointments with them or simply sitting with them at home whilst they process the news. They might cry, they might get angry, they might want you there or they might not. Try to be for them whatever they need at that time. Friendship is the great act of God that can be done for them at that time.

(Note: I apologise for the length of this post and the babbling in it. I am struggling to think straight through the pain and medication blurriness.)

Healing or Wholeness – what’s the difference?

Healing or Wholeness – what’s the difference?

Definition of ‘Wholeness’According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary – ‘The condition of being sound in body. The quality or state of being without restriction, exception, or qualification.’

I believe this definition is exactly what causes the confusion and arguments around healing because it makes healing and wholeness one in the same by stating that only when the body is ‘perfect’ can wholeness be achieved and I just don’t think this is right.

If we are going to be looking at wholeness from a Christian perspective then no, people with disabilities are not ‘whole’, but nor are those without disabilities. Even those people who spent most of their life with brilliant health and fitness. no mental health problems, relationship issues, financial issues, spiritual battles, etc. aren’t whole until they reach heaven.

Philippians 3:12-13 reads, ‘Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead’.

The original word used in this verse to mean ‘perfect’ is the Greek word ‘Teleios’ which is also translated in some versions/verses to mean ‘whole’. The fact that we are taught in this passage to strain or strive for wholeness tells us 2 things:

  1. we are in control of it – we are not in control of how we are born or what happens to cause us to become ill or disabled therefore, removing a disability is not part of becoming ‘whole’.
  2. we will never get there in this world – we are told to strive for it which suggests it is an ongoing challenge. Only in Heaven will we be fully whole and the reason for that is because once we are in Heaven, we will be clean and without sin just like Adam and Eve were before they disobeyed God in the garden of Eden. God punished Eve with pain in child birth but it the suffering that might her less than perfect. It was her sin.

The same goes for us. We are not less ‘whole’ than others because we can’t see, hear, walk, struggle with pain or fatigue, don’t have 2 arms and 2 legs or can’t function in the world in the same way as the rest of society. The only reason we are not whole or perfect is the same reason as the marathon runner next door, the lady across the road who spends all her waking hours doing the gardening, the postman, or the shopkeeper. We are born into a world of sin and in order to be free of it, we need to know and love God and those around us and in our eternal life, there we will find wholeness.

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.

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Whilst at uni, I studied a small amount of ethics and part of that was the ethics of person-hood. When I started YouBelong, I knew I would have to deepen my ethical studies and over the last week, I have been reading about the ethics of person-hood from a disability perspective

From a very simple, biblical point of view, a human is someone who is made in God’s image by God and put on the earth to love Him and those around us. The argument put across by some people is that those of us who do not look or behave in the same way as the majority are not made in the image of God and therefore, are lesser in His sight and in the sight of others. But Scripture does not say However, that interpretation is insinuates that God is either wrong about us ALL being made in His image or that His image is flawed. But that brings us back to the question of ‘how do we know which of us is the purest form of God?’ The answer — no one and all of us. We are ALL made in the image of God. God is not a visual being so His definition of ‘image’ is likely to be different to our own. People with one less finger or an ostomy bag or a feeding tube, a PICC line, a prosthetic leg or arm, scars. There are no two people EXACTLY the same so how could we ever think that there are a group of people who are more like and deserving of God than the rest?

We are reminded in Psalm 139:13–16 that what the world views as ‘disability’ is not unknown by or shocking to God. “He saw our unformed bodies before we came to be.” He saw them AND celebrated them!

When we judge someone to not be in God’s image, we are saying that we are know what God ‘looks’ like and that we are more like that. How can we possibly know?! We cannot. To get a better idea of what ‘made in the image of God’ means we need to pull ourselves away from our human mind set and try to put ourselves into that of God’s — impossible indeed, but we can and should try.

Yes, Jesus healed many people with physical impairments and disabilities but we only read about a handful of people in the bible and not all people then or today were or will be ‘cured’ during their time on earth. Some of us will die young or struggle in the fallen world we live in for many years to come but that does not mean we lesser ‘in God’s eyes’. Although Jesus was perfect (and I am not arguing against that!), He rose from the dead miraculously but still had scars in His hands and side. I am pretty much 100% sure that if God wanted to make Jesus physically perfect, He could have done that, but I don’t believe that it was important to God for this to be done. He doesn’t look at our earthly ‘imperfections’, whether as a result of disability or injury or any other factors, and see His creation as flawed. We are made fearfully and wonderfully made, in God’s image, and part of His creation that He called ‘good.’