As soon as my alarm began to sing I flung back the covers to scan my hands for smooth skin. For the thousandth time, I met the new sunrise with disappointment.
Miraculous healing had not come in the night. Again.
For years I had dealt with waves of mysterious eczema on my hands. Cycles of itching, cracking, bleeding hands, sometimes crippling my fingers shut, with no discernible explanation. Every kind of doctor, lotion, diet, natural solution, test, prayer – I tried it and often conditions just got worse. The use of soaps hurt. Water even often hurt. The crazy itch led to sleepless nights and groggy days. The pain radiated up my arms constantly. Hands may sound like a small part of your body but if you can imagine the tasks of 2 small kids- diapering, bathing, dressing, cleaning, cooking, folding laundry, typing for my online job, writing, driving. Forget my passion for sewing or knitting. Every aspect of life was affected. Especially my wounded heart fighting to hold onto hope. I didn’t yet realize it, but every aspect of me was under attack – my job as a mom, wife and teacher, my future, my personality, why I “only” deserved 2 kids.
My conclusion was that this was my definite and final condition. Just limp through life and deal with it.
But that wasn’t my only conclusion. I also derived that:
Something was wrong with me.
I’d never achieve my goals.
God had stopped listening.
My tired faith was turning to bitterness.
But my attitude started to shift as I studied these verses one day:
“In this [salvation] you rejoice, though now for a little while , if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:6-7
So, let’s say I were to wake up one morning completely healed! Having gone through this trial (which I know is light compared to many but whatever is your trial is your trial to learn from), on the other side of it, would it result in the glory and praise and honor of Jesus? Or had my heart become so clouded with hurt, bitterness, and anger because of my trial. I certainly didn’t think the genuineness of my faith was getting stronger. Could I free my heart for praise – whether ever “healed” or not? What was the source of these bitter feelings?
These thoughts then collided with something I read in Two Hours to Freedom by Charles Kraft concerning the spiritual aspect of sickness:
“When people are angry with themselves they often say such things as I hate myself (or I hate my body or I hate my name), or I wish that part of me wasn’t so ______, or I vow not to be like ______. When we say such things against ourselves, we often find that the enemy sneaks in and empowers the words, making them curses or vows. He thus gains the right to harass.” (p. 38)
I was definitely guilty of this. I had caught myself saying hate so many times this year. A word that didn’t used to be common to me.
So, in desperation I asked the Holy Spirit to sit with me and these questions and help me to make this list. He is the Mighty Counselor, who bears truth and reminds us of all things. What have I hated or vowed that has given the enemy permission to sneak in and empower these words? Lord, when have I said…
“_____ will never happen for me.”
“I vow ______.”
What are “self curses” that run through my head?
My page quickly filled up.
“The good news is that such curses can usually be broken easily when we take authority over them and cancel them in Jesus’ name.” (Kraft, p. 38)
Some items on my hate list were specifically about myself; that I am robbed of what I want to do; that I feel like a sad, needy friend. Words that should never be uttered about anything in God’s creation – let alone one of his children. Some other things I hated, were “messes” and “popcorn” – because if it hurts to clean up messes then I never want them made. Make sense? (–> uptight and angry mom with little kids!)
After the page filled with pencil I started to see that I had written down obvious, outright lies about my life. Like physically untrue statements that had become common thoughts. Negative things people had ever said about me surfaced. I was left with an ugly page full of lies, curses to reject and thoughts to renounce.
But this is where the story gets good.
Life-giving truth emerged to return to the Lord like:
“I do have so much of what I wanted in life!”
“Help me love myself so I can better love others.”
“Restore in my kids any damage I’ve done for making them feel shame. Messes are evidence of life and I don’t want them to feel sorry for it.”
“Forgive me for loving sadness over joy, and staying there too long.”
“I am a blessed and good mother!”
“Renew me with Your Spirit when these aggravating moments come up.”
And as a consolation I had gained Patience, Rest and Humbleness from this suffering.
One by one I heard truth from the Lord to counter each lie and I crossed that ugly list out. My heart began to long for Jesus to be praised, glorified, and honored whether I remained with eczema or not. But now I had more confidence that I could actually offer that. I noticed in the next weeks that my attitudes softened toward cleaning and difficult tasks. That these lies no longer hung over me and haunted me. Their power had been broken and light began to shine again inside of me.
My health issues are still not perfect, but in the next 2 months I received a real break through with the medical treatment I had been seeking. Also, my soul was loosened up for some significant, healing forgiveness. I believe this was also a piece of my physical healing. I soon felt led to share this with some other women who I knew had chronic issues and saw fruit in those relationships. I wrote out verses about what God is making us into and dwelt on them. Over this time, many “triggers” of sadness and social anxiety I had been feeling began to subside. I was able to face each alarm ring with a renewed perspective and restored faith.
What are the lies chasing you because of your suffering? What residue is there to shed?
What are the assumptions you have made about your future that God may just want to lovingly challenge?
This is a very short version of my story but let me reassure you that there is freedom available and power in “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) to walk in His truth. Healing may be found in many ways and let us not forsake inner healing while waiting only for the outer healing.
Now you may ask, “How does this relate to Intentional Traditions?” Traditions should be a part of our natural rhythm of life. We as a family are learning to incorporate times of truth seeking and rejecting lies as part of our weekly traditions. As the main disciplers of our children, we are the ones to help them deal with life, their feelings, and their doubts. Our goal is to instill an eternal perspective that will help them face anything armed with God’s truth in their hearts. So, let me encourage you, if you or a family member are in the midst of suffering to take the time to begin to identify the lies and receive what is true from the Lord. He is still listening.
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