God’s in your box

A while back, I started to read C.S. Lewis’ book, The Problem with Pain.  But at the time, I wasn’t IN much pain, so I lost interest and moved on.  The other day I was wishing I had read it.

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This last week, I was in a great deal of pain.  I had a four-day migraine.  It came and went, and was super bad at the beginning.  Like puke-in-the-sink my-head-might-explode bad.

All I could think of at first was, “whhhhy?”

“Why God, would you allow this to happen?  I thought I was healed?  I really was!  I’m so disappointed!”

Also, I just told like the whole internet that you healed me, soooo, that’s pretty awkward.  What am I suppos-to say?

Not like God is ruled by what goes onto the internet, that’s for sure, but I felt kinda crappy about the fact that I just finally announced my big healing news and was super stoked, and then I came back from a church retreat and I got a few headaches that week, and then one very enormous migraine the following week.

As my toddler would say, “supa lame.”

Here is what I do know, and why I am actually sharing this.  Because my life trails are not all that important in your world, however, some of the stuff I learn during them has been life changing for me, so I want to share.

On Tuesday, after I got over my pity party, I took some ibuprofen and thanked Jesus that he helped people invent medicine to make me feel slightly better when I’m sick. I then ate, and took a nap and threw away any guilt I was feeling that I wasn’t healed, or didn’t trust God enough to heal me and not take medicine.  I was able to go out to dinner that night with some friends, and felt mostly fine.

I woke up the next morning, at like 3:30 am, feeling nauseous and back in pain.

After praying for awhile for other stuff, I finally got the nerve to ask God what was up.  And although he didn’t answer me why I had to go through the pain I was going through, he did tell me the following.  It has changed how I see Jesus completely.

He showed it to me in a word picture, as he almost always does when he speaks to me outside of the bible or a sermon or whatever.

Here is the word picture followed by what I felt like was insight he gave me:

I am in like basically the visual of outer space, it’s black.  There is a clear very large box.  I am inside this box and it is able to seal completely, so nothing can get into it unless it is opened.  I can’t open it.  In the box, along with myself is what I call sunlight dust particles, the dust you see in the air when the sunlight hits it right.  In this word picture, they are pain particles.  Small particles, that God the Father allowed into my box, and is allowing me to feel.  He is outside of my box.  He said that he knows every single one, he knows the number, the size the weight of them all.  He didn’t let one more speck into my box than necessary.  He said he knows my pain better than I do, he can see it from top from bottom, from inside and out, every angle.  In moments where I forget my pain, he still is aware of it.  So I’m like, okay, but why?  I hate this box.

Then, I see Jesus in my box.

He feels everything I feel.  He feels the same exact pain I feel.  We feel it together. He allows himself to feel the same pain, every ounce, every nanosecond of it, so that he is always acutely aware of what I am feeling.  Even if I forget for a moment, he is always aware of it.

I have never thought of this before.  I always thought when the bible says, “he was a man of many sorrows, he was a man of great pain” it was just talking about his physical life on earth, which was indeed full of pain and sorrow.  I always thought he could relate to our pain, like, “yeah, there was this one time that one of my best friends totally betrayed me to death in front of all my bros, it was super lame, I got arrested and beat up so I TOTALLY know how you feel when you say that you can’t believe so-and-so tweeted blah, blah, blah about you and now everyone’s hatin’, I get it.”  And sometimes I’d think, How DO you know what those little kids being trafficked actually feel like, you were never actually trafficked as a kid.

Whelp.

What this word picture was showing me, was that no, Jesus actually allows himself to feel my very exact pain.  Now whether he really does or not, I do not know, this was a word picture to teach me something about how God works and who his son is.  However, I am inclined to believe that this is an actual truth.

If my littlest one had to experience something painful to make her well, and it was in my ability to feel it to, I would.  I would want to know exactly what it felt like, so I would know how to help her, how to console her, and give her the understanding that she was not alone, that truly, we were going through it together.  Any loving parent would do this if they could.

When Jesus says he walks with us through our trails, I don’t think he is just walking alongside us in ease, although he is God, it seems more like he allows himself to experience the very thing we experience, however painful, however sad, however deep and cutting to our soul.

In this word picture, he and I were head to head, and all I could do was put my head next to his.  At least we were together in this pain, I was not alone.  It seemed the more I focused on him, the less painful it became, he was almost a distraction from the pain, and then just like that the box was gone, and we were out of it together.

Here is what I have learned so far, and it’s really early, but it’s what he is showing me.

Jesus knows my pain, because he goes through my pain alongside me, with me. He’s not drinking a slurpee while I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, just holding my hand.  No, he’s walking alongside me, knowing my great suffering, we are suffering together.  He is choosing to put aside any luxuries he is given and rights as God and walks alongside me through everything.

When I pray, and I ask for God the Father to take away the pain, he sees his own son, Jesus bearing that pain as well, and his heart is moved to action.

Also, when I looked back at that box, I could see that there were times I’d sit in the corner of it and scream.  Totally unaware of Jesus’ presence.  I bang the box with my fists hard.  I cry and fight and yell at God, believing all the while that he is outside of my box feeling nothing.

Whether we want to recognize him or not, Jesus is still in our box.  He’s always been in our box, it’s just that so many of us fail to look up and see him there.  We are too busy looking at God the Father outside of our box and getting angry and feeling betrayed, doubting his goodness.  But he didn’t have to send his son.

It also seems Jesus the only way out of that box.

If God allows suffering to bring us closer to Jesus, than this would be true.  As we draw near to him, the one who knows our great pain, we can find ourselves rescued and delivered.  And, although he may not ever take away all the pain here on earth, we can find rest in the son, because scripture says it is so.

So, I was in pain for four days.  But I walked out of it seeing that Jesus is always with me.  That is a gift I could never have hoped to have been given.  I don’t know that I will ever walk through pain the same.

It’s one thing for someone to say, I can relate to your pain.  At least that’s nice, and empathetic.

It’s another thing entirely for them to take it on themselves and walk through it alongside you, when they don’t owe you a thing.

He’s in your box y’all.

 

Healing and Jesus Fries

I have a migraine.

Why am I writing right at this very moment when I’m shaky and feel like I want to throw up?

Because I want to do the very thing I think the enemy is trying to keep me from doing.

Speaking truth about who God is.  Last time I tried to sit down and type out this truth, I got a migraine and didn’t finish it.

So this might be a super crappy post.

But I don’t even care, because it’s my best attempt at saying, “God is bigger and better then barf and headaches and pain and more pain.”

My head started hurting earlier this evening, right as I sat down for church.

I unfortunately get migraines on a regular basis.  After years of prayer, they are better then they were, but they are still not gone, and they can still be terrible and of course inconvenient.

I typically get them when I am in a place where I could enjoy myself and find rest, for example: my husband and I are about to go on a date, I’m in church, when I should be sleeping or when I have time to reflect and write.

I feel like there’s a pattern.  I feel like they might be spiritual and the enemy is trying to rob me in my times of peace.

But really, what do I know?  All I know is when I get them, I want them to go away and they make me question what I’m doing wrong in my life to have them in the first place.

They are also always on the right side of my head.  And it feels like a 1/2 metal rod has been shoved through my eye socket up and out of the back of my scull.

That’s descriptive and lovely.  Sorry about that.

In church tonight, as we were getting up to leave and go pick up our kids, I felt like the Lord said, “have someone at church pray for you, go ASK for prayer.”

I was like, ummmmm (drumming up some good excuses), “I don’t want to bother anyone, it’s not that bad, I’ll be okay.”  I added on for good measure, “my dad’s a pastor, and I love his prayers, I’ll have him pray for me” and then, “my mom is an intercessor, she will pray and mean it, (she wields a giant spiritual sword)” and to end it, besides, “my husband loves me and his prayers for me are like treasures, I love hearing him pray for me and I’ve been healed at different times by each one of their prayers.”  It wasn’t that explicit when I said it, but basically I was telling God, “I have like three super qualified people to pray over me, I am so blessed already, there are people here who maybe don’t even have ONE person to pray over them, why would I ASK for help from our church?  I don’t want to bother anyone.”

Because praying for people in a church is a bother.

And I’m an idiot who still has a migraine at 4 in the morning.

It’s starting to feel a little bit better.  But I’m still shaking.

Here is what I understand about Jesus and healing… not very much.

Why does he allow pain in the first place?  That is a ten-jillion theologian page book in itself, but sometimes Jesus’ answer is, “so that God may be glorified.”

But everything Jesus ever did on the earth, was to show us more of who God was, to bring us closer to God, his Father which in the process, made us healed and whole.  It really seems to me that the Father is glorified when we know who he is, and when we know who he is, we become healed and whole.  There’s something to that.  From the outside, it sounds like, “oh it’s all about God and his glory, but actually he sent his ONLY son, to die for US.  It’s not about our glory, but it sure sounds like it’s a lot about us being rescued and saved, healed and whole and his glory looks a lot more like the sacrifice of a dying soldier then a dude on a throne who people worship and throw flowers at.

Here is an interesting look at healing in the first book of Matthew chapter 15. verses 21-28.

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman.  Her story is a bummer at first, but it ends well.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. 

Say WHHHHHHAAAAT?  Jesus legit ignored her.  That does not sound like the “nice” Jesus I know.

Does Jesus REALLY ignore people?  I thought he was always, super-nice-guy.  Ignoring seems so rude.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about Jesus.  In the bible, he does everything for the benefit of those around him (and for the future readers of the bible, like you and I, he is multifaceted like that).  In this case, the best thing for this woman to have a real encounter with Jesus, was for Jesus to ignore her.  How crazy is that? 

Let’s read on.

“And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Again, she is ignored and the excuse is because she is not a Jew, the people group chosen by God.  Canaanite’s according to the commentary on biblegateway.com were, “bitter biblical enemies of Israel whose paganism had often led Israel into idolatry.”  But she doesn’t care, she even goes so far as to bothers his disciples, so much so that they, “came and begged him saying, “send her away” for she is crying out after us.”  She must have been determined, insistent, over-the-top obnoxious, not caring about social rules or status, not caring about looking like an idiot.

I can just hear her screaming like a crazy woman, “SAVE MY CHILD!!! Don’t you care?!  HELP ME!!!” – reminds me of reality-tv people going for good ratings.

Yet, Jesus says no again, replying, “I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel”. (strike 2)

But there’s more

“25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 

26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 

He is still telling her no appears to be speaking to her as the Jewish leaders might have, putting her in her social place. (that’s 3)

“27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 

A humble and wise response, she is attempting to persuade God, And humbling herself in the process.  Now her heart is in the right place, she has moved her attention PAST herself, and onto Jesus and his business.

28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!   Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

I seriously doubt that the Jewish fancy-pants leaders would have ever prayed for healing for her, so Jesus was basically breaking down those social barriers but anyway, that’s another type of commentary. This story is crazy.  I used to think that Jesus was all about going around and healing people instantly.  Fixin’ stuff.  But healing is not what she really needed first.

Why does he draw her out, make her wait?  She goes through the motions of seeking, asking, and begging, she gets rejected BY Jesus, three times.  What could be worse then getting rejected by Jesus?  How awful in your life story, “This one time, I was rejected by the Son of God, three times…”  But she wasn’t ever really rejected was she?  He knew she wasn’t going home without what she came for.

Sometimes Jesus heals people in an instant: BAM healing.  Other times he first says, “go, your sins are forgiven”, while they sit there still crippled, then he heals them too after a sec (Mark 2:1-12). In one instance, a lady touches his robe (Matthew 9:20) and she is healed without him saying anything and he acts all surprised saying, “who touched me?”  Do you really think he didn’t know?  No, the dude is God in the flesh, but he responds that way for her unique benefit, and she humbles herself in her response to God.

Back to Strike 3 Lady.  Why did he tell her no three times?  I thought when we ask God for something, he wants to give it to us right away if it aligns with the bible.  The bible is pretty down on people being possessed by demons, so we can assume it was God’s will to heal this little girl of demon possession, so why did he wait?

Perhaps to grow the Canaanite Woman’s faith in the process?  Jesus is always saying in the bible, “by your faith you are healed”.

Like me, tonight in church.  How much faith did I really have?

Well, what does faith mean?

Hebrews 11:1 says, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Sure and certain.

Those two words.

When I am sure and certain of something, I will stop at nothing to go after it.

I WANTED my migraine to go away.  I assumed it would get worse as they normally do until I am crying and have to make myself throw up just so I can fall asleep again in the middle of the night and get at least the nausea to go away.  But I didn’t stop at nothing.  I stopped right at the doorstep of pride.  Pride is the doormat you have to walk over to get into the house of healing.  You have to get over your pride before you can get into God’s healing.

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Big girl shoes on the doormat of pride, probably a little bit of how God sees us.

I wasn’t sure and certain enough to humble myself.  Really that’s the truth behind the “facts” I told God.  It’s not that I don’t believe my family can pray for me and heal me.  It’s that I didn’t want to have healing the way he directed me to have it.  I didn’t want to go up to some nice strangers and tell them I needed them.  To say, “Hey, I have this problem, and I’VE prayed about it and it’s NOT going away.  I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, and I STILL need help. I’ve done everything in my mind I can do, and it’s still not fixed.”  How humiliating is that? Maybe I’m just prideful but I don’t like the idea of going up to super nice strangers who ARE THERE TO HELP ME, and telling them I need help.  I want to solve it in my own way. (There are SO many biblical examples of that, so at least I’m not alone).

Because what if the nice people at church think I’m pathetic, and not good at praying, and wonder if I really know Jesus at all because if I did and he really talked to me, I’d be right as rain this very moment.

But they don’t wonder any of those things.  Because when I get to pray for someone I am delighted.  I am so happy to stand with my brother or sister in the Lord and intervene on their behalf.  It’s makes me feel like I still have a purpose.  It is a reminder to me that God is using me, that I’m still USEFUL to him, which is what I desire most in this very world, to be someone that God still says, “hey, I can use this girl”.  Some of my most favorite, best experiences in life have to do with being in the presence of God. He is so beyond peaceful, beyond all the distractions, beyond all my doubts and questions and misunderstandings.  Even when I’m in his presence for just a second, I begin to feel better.

What if God wanted to use someone tonight to help heal me?

And I took my reasons and handed them up to God in list form.

And I didn’t get to experience healing.  Because I wan’t humble.

According to the dictionary, humble means: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

Like we aren’t the one’s who are most important when we go to God and ask him for things. We hold the position that HIS will is still the most important.

And sometimes, I don’t think we always want that.  We want our will, with a side of Jesus, like he’s the fries in our delicious meal of self.  Jesus fries.

Jesus is never the fries.  He’s the whole meal.  We aren’t even the fries.  We aren’t even the ketchup leftover stain on the table from the meal prior.  And yet he loves us, and wants to heal us and to give us what we ask for.

But not until we stop negotiating with the Lord.  And I didn’t hand over that migraine to the Lord tonight, I held onto it and said I knew how to fix it myself, I had the solution.

And where did that get me?

Barf city.

I should have said, “Okay God, I REALLY want THIS (healing in the comfort of my own home by my family’s prayers), BUT, seriously if you have something better (nice strangers praying for me), something that is more your plan, even if I don’t like it – I’m down, let’s go that route, I’ll step out of my comfort zone, I surrender.”

And I have to mean it.

And I have to act on it.

It totally doesn’t count if I just say it like a wish to the sky.

This usually involves part of ME dying.  Myself.  My will.  My pride.  And me saying and big fat, “YES” to God and his plans.

Because it’s not my will, it’s his.  Because it’s not about me.  It’s about him.  When my eyes are on him, I get better.

So maybe you want something really bad, something that is good and lines up with the bible.  Maybe you’ve been asking for a long time, and you FEEL like he’s ignoring you.  He’s not.  He might be waiting for you to simply humble yourself and give it over to him, saying,

“I trust you enough that even if I NEVER get this thing I want the way I want it, I still trust you, and believe that you are good.  I’m giving it to you.  I surrender.”

And if you can’t say that prayer just yet in all honesty, tell him you can’t, but that you wish you could, and then ask him to help you get there.

Then, if he tells you to go to church and ask the nice strangers to pray for you, listen to him and go, don’t be dumb like me and hold onto your pride while you suffer in pain.  Don’t be dumb like me!

And, by the way, somehow over the last two hours and a bowl of Joe’s O’s, the migraine is gone.

See how much I know about healing?  Not very much.  The migraines I tend to get usually last three days.  Fortunately, God knows everything and I don’t have to.  I just have to know him.

And, side note, in church tonight, we learned that we are the introducer guy, the one who introduces others to the one who can actually help them.  So here’s the introduction for whoever this post was actually written for, because the enemy did everything he was allowed to do to stop it from being written.  So if it’s you this is written for, run to God and do whatever he says.  He had some big plans for you whoever you are.  Don’t even wait, find a bible and go right now to the only one who can help you, heal you and make you whole, his name is Jesus.