Tag Archives: comfort

Why I Feel Like I am Sharing in the Israelites’ Journey

Why would anyone be upset with God when their prayers were answered as they had hoped?

For years, the Israelites served  the Egyptians under oppressive conditions . But God was aware of their suffering and the deliverance they longed for was about to take place.

“The Lord said, “I have seen how my people are suffering in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers. I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to save them from the Egyptians. I will bring them up out of that land…” (Exodus 3:7-8)

Getting what we wish for can be a dangerous thing.

Lately, I find myself resonating with the Israelites’ frustration and perspective. Recently, our family received deliverance. For over a decade, we sought release from financial, work, and medical burdens. It seemed that every time that an impending release appeared possible,  another problem arose to counter the feeling of freedom.

Finally, we entered into a new place. After years of praying for respite from a continuous string of unexpected stresses, we felt rescued and embraced the peace found within it.

For the first few months, we rejoiced. We knew it was God’s hand that brought this blessing. It’s not that we didn’t thank God for anything during the previous years, but this dramatic transition brought physical awareness for where we had come. Truthfully, some of the sources of worry had disappeared. Health had stabilized. Financial issues were resolved. My husband was released from a long difficult job experience. Celebration commenced.

When the Israelites were finally released from captivity, they too praised God. There had been many close calls that seemed to threaten the fulfillment of God’s promise to them.

“They said to Moses,’Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’” (Exodus 14:11-12)

But when it happened, they celebrated. They sang, danced, and relished in the gift of a respite.

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
  The Lord is my strength and my might,[a]
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him…”(Exodus 15:1-2)

But, unbeknownst to them, the release was not without it’s own set of challenges. They were not done moving.

Our expectations of how God will work and preconceived notions of God’s character can result in disappointment. We look at our narrative unfolding through human eyes.

 The Israelites said to them, “We wish the Lord had put us to death in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat. We ate all the food we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert. You must want this entire community to die of hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

God was moving them to a better place. But the in-between space did not match what they envisioned.

Couldn’t the comfort have lasted a little longer?

Currently, we are moving toward a new place again. Not a new home but new jobs. Our transition doesn’t feel as euphoric as it did in the beginning. God’s hand doesn’t seem to be moving as quickly as we wished. The feast has ended. The provision is appearing in forms different than what we planned. Our bodies are growing weary.

The journey seems long and, at times, discouraging. But we know that God never forgot the Israelites. And we are not forgotten either.

We are aware that the vision we hold is not complete. And we will keep trusting (clinging at times) to the promises given to the Israelites along their way.

Because God always wants to lead us to a better place than we were in before. Even if we don’t understand the stops along the way.

Advertisements

Do You Want to Be Made Well? Identifying With the Man in John 5

” Do you want to be made well?”

The question posed to the man in John 5:5-9 appears rhetorical.

We do not know if he was born with a disability or his physical limitations are the result of an injury. Regardless, he is accustomed to his place near the pool of Bethesda. He’s resided in that spot for 38 years!  He knows the perceptions of how he got there.  Surely his parents must have sinned greatly in order for God’s blessing to be withheld. The whispers and stares are not lost on him. He watches those whom wear the badge of “blessed” murmur as they pass his way daily.  It’s not an abundant life.  But it is what he has accepted.

And then he encounters Jesus. He  wasn’t even seeking Him. Yet, Jesus approaches the man.

Who, would not embrace the offer to be healed? After all, multitudes clamored to be healed through Jesus’ mysterious yet miraculous touch.

What appears to be a simple question actually carries with it a complex web of implications.

Three years ago, my son became sick.  Originally struggling with a chronic upset stomach, epilepsy presented suddenly. Our lives became caught up in a whirlwind of questioning, troubleshooting and despair. Thankfully, God’s mercies held us tight during that year. However, reeling out of that trauma, my son struggled with being made well. As I walked with him in that journey, I reflected on moments in my own life when I too feared “being well,” The voices spoken both audibly and echoing in our heads, appear to hold power and keep us from breaking free.

Restoration changes our perceived identity

Is it no wonder that the man in John 5 became accustomed to his socially appointed lot in life? We are creatures of habit-even if the routine subtly and deceptively keeps us from being restored-fully whole in communion with God..

My son’s visit to Mayo Clinic included a visit with a psychologist who only sees adolescents with chronic illnesses. Why? Because narrowing one’s identity to fit around the illness becomes tempting. My son was exhorted to not let his epilepsy define him.

Our own identities may be informed by life changing parts of our narratives, illness, injury,sinful actions committed against us or sinful areas with which we struggle. Regardless, Jesus has promised us abundant life   Healing may or may not happen here on Earth but restoration is always possible.

How will he recognize his purpose now? What will it take for him to break through the perception that he is no longer dependent on others for basic needs? How will he establish autonomy?

Restoration places us out of our comfort zone; even if the previous zone of habitation limited us. As my son returned to High School for his Junior year, following the previous year of illness, I anticipated that he would welcome the fresh start. However, anxiety filled him as he began. I felt completely blindsided. Why would apprehension fill his heart?

He had become accustomed to his lot. Sympathetic teachers. A force of people supporting him. Extra time at home.

As my writer friend Emily Conrad wrote in response to one of my posts, “I finally got something I’ve been longing for for years and now I find myself on the other side of a situation I had grown comfortable with. I had accepted it. And now that Jesus spoke and I’m moving on, I feel a little wobbly on these legs.”

Transitioning to a posture of empowerment demands walking forward. Even if the ground feels shaky at first.

Restoration expands our view of God’s character

Believe it or not, grasping who God is can cause one to feel a bit unsettled. Humanity has always yearned for the predictable. Comfort is found in explanation. Uncertainty sends our hearts and minds stirring. We simply find difficulty in grasping God’s words through Isaiah”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
Doesn’t it seem easier in a chronic situation to adapt and accept that God is not capable of Forgiveness? Mercy? Delivery? Healing?

“Do you want to be made well?”

Jesus heals the man in a way that the man never expected. Not in the pool but simply out of Jesus’ authoritative word: “Rise. take up your pallet and walk.”

Later, Jesus finds the man to complete the process of restoration. “Go and sin no more.”

Suddenly, his daily rhythm of life is altered.

Walking forward demands trusting our sovereign God in our new steps. Acknowledging that we can balance on one leg as we move the other in front in order to stride toward the longed for but unfamiliar horizon.

It’s possible. because of Jesus

Jesus, who desires my wholeness so much to encounter me when I wasn’t looking for restoration.

Jesus, who believes that I am so much more than what I think of myself.

Jesus.

 

What must you surrender to Jesus so that you might be “made well?”