When We Need to be Revived

I thought I had learned all the “tricks” there were to help me emerge out of my grave discouragements that threaten to do me in every now and then. I thought having been ill for over a decade and having lived in the Word for the same amount of time would have taught me to rise up easily whenever the monster of discouragement reared its ugly head. After all, that’s what I often blog about. But truth be told, it’s never ever easy. There’s always a struggle involved to extricate myself from the snares of discouragement or depression. The hardest part is when you yourself don’t want to rise up from it. In my case, that means I’m so weary, physically and emotionally, and so dismayed that all I want to think about is negative. I murmur in my heart – sulky thoughts that pass fleetingly in the mind, nonetheless, they all contribute to the pity party happening.

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If we try to analyze our emotions, we may find the shocking truth that our resentments, bitterness, dismay, and disappointments are directed to —- God. Quite shocking, but it’s best to be honest about our true feelings than hide them where they fester. We cannot hide anything from God. When I see these negative feelings for what they really are, a bevy of other emotions washes over me: shame, fear, confusion, helplessness. I can relate with the apostle Paul when he exclaimed in despair,  “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24)

But thanks be to God that his anguish didn’t end there. For the apostle Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ “is above all, and through all, and in [us] all (Eph. 4:6). Meaning, our emotions cannot bury us so deep that the Lord cannot reach us! That’s why the apostle Paul followed his anguished cry with this:

I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 7:25)

Just like that – he thanked God! No explanations needed. He thanked God because the Lord Jesus Christ has done it all for us! He has finished the work! Nothing surprises Him. The Lord knows those emotions. And not only that, He knows how to subdue them! And He will, for us, if we just allow Him to reach our hearts and not turn away.

 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Heb. 2:1)

Too weary and discouraged to pray? Just whisper, “Revive me, Lord. Revive my spirit!”

When we have stopped struggling and have rested, we will have clearer minds. When we are ready to come before the Lord in praise and prayer, He is just delighted to receive us. And we are revived!

This song below, “He Alone is Worthy”, is one of my new favorites. When I listen to it, I can’t help worshiping the Lord. I pray it blesses you, too. (I’m sorry there’s no other music video of it. Consider turning off the music player at the bottom of the side bar. Thank you!).

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From Nightmare to Peace and Joy

Is it even possible? Yes, for with God nothing is impossible. But we don’t easily find our way to Him, to have a heart right with Him, and to trust Him with all our being. An older cousin posted this on Facebook: “Living a nightmare ain’t living!” I know exactly where she’s coming from. We have exchanged notes and she is convinced that we have and suffer the same illness. She’s been diagnosed with MSA (multi-system atrophy). I hadn’t undergone the same rigid workup for I gave up early on, but the initial impression of the cardiologist who saw me was that I might have a degenerative disease, my vital organs might be degenerating. I understand that degeneration is another way of saying atrophy.

I always say that my illness affects my ANS (autonomic nervous system: cardio, digestive, respiratory). I see that as multi-system. My cousin and I compared symptoms and, indeed, we have the same. Her neurologist said it’s genetics. But that knowledge didn’t bring any comfort to me. After all, it didn’t lessen the suffering. She lives in the US so we can’t assist each other, but I’m doing my best to comfort and encourage her.

It used to be nightmarish for me, too. I used to be inconsolable, more often than not. If nightmares stop the moment you wake up, this one begins the moment you open your eyes. So, for a long time, I preferred sleep. For my dreams were better than my reality.

But at the onset of my terrifying illness, I had embraced my Savior and Healer, the Lord Jesus Christ. For a long time, it was hard to understand it all, but I clung to His Word which I made my daily companion and the amazing testimonies of His miracles that I heard from the pulpit. There was no instant, one-time relief, but as I held on to Jesus, He held me. As I immersed myself in His Word and promises, He supplied the grace sufficient for me to survive the day.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

In the nightmarish moments, I thought of my Savior, my Jesus who loved me so much He died for me. I lived in His presence as I walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” again and again. Even in the darkest, hardest times, I believed He was there. I imagined His light like a vertical shaft shining down on me from His throne. I never wanted to disconnect from Him. He was, still is, and always will be my heartbeat, the very breath that I take. (Weeping now).

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. (Psalm 86:15)

I can’t remember the exact day that the Lord filled me with peace and joy and inspiration to live and serve Him. They didn’t come with my complete healing for I have yet to receive it. I received them even in the midst of illness and suffering. This is that which the apostle Paul wrote – “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). We can’t comprehend how it can be present in the midst of a trial. But it’s there like a solid rock we can lean upon.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Ps. 30:11-12 NIV)

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A Day in the Life of a Suffering Believer

You see the photos of brethren in Christ from your beloved Church posing for the camera with smiles of fulfilment and victory in serving Him, and instead of fully rejoicing with them, envy tugs at your heart. When will these unpleasant feelings ever go away? The fine group of believers, selected according to their gifts, talents, and anointing, flew across the continent to bring the true gospel of salvation to another race so needful of the Savior. And you know without a doubt that what they have (good health and strength) and what they do (traveling to preach, testify, and win souls) are the very things that You. Are. So. Desiring. Longingly and painfully desiring.

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You stare harder at the happy faces, some of them couples, and you even think, “What does it feel to be standing in their shoes?” And your heart is wrung with the pain of not living that life. You withdraw from it, your soul suddenly engulfed in sadness, your heart heavy. You don’t need these, these additional emotional burdens. You already have too much physical discomforts as it is. But as the day would have it and whether you like it or not, you are again entering into a warfare with the annoying oppressor.

You do your best to rein in your mounting resentment. Where did that come from? From all the hardships and problems that don’t seem to leave you and from the thought that the answer to your one constant prayer of healing is a long time coming. So, you wrestle against impatience, murmurings, brewing resentment, and a sulky attitude. But of course, you cannot hide the hint of glower on your face.

You stay silent, like you’re treading on dangerous ground, and you are. For “in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” (Prov. 10:19).  But you know that a powerful Christian doesn’t handle such days inefficiently. You know that his goal is to make you miserable and there’s no way you’re letting him, if you know better! So, you think of lifting up thanksgiving to God, only that you don’t feel like doing it. Not now anyway.

But with all the strength you could muster, you cast out the demons that try to bind you and bring you down in Jesus’ name. You cast them out with power and faith in Jesus. You know too well this is the way of a victorious Christian!

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

It doesn’t take long and you feel you’re being drawn to His presence. You like that! So, you don’t waste time. You bow before the Lord and the words begin to tumble out. You tell Him everything, every detail. Every heartache, every longing, every desire, every negative feeling that you want Him to take away and replace with His good and perfect gifts. You empty out the contents of your heart, for, you know that He alone can help. Your spouse or friend may listen, but you know that there is really no one on earth who can really bring you comfort or soothe away your afflictions. You know It. Is. Only. Jesus!

After you’ve unloaded your burden, you don’t only feel relieved and comforted – you know you’ve chosen the more excellent thing, a spiritually profitable task, and the feeling of accomplishment lifts up your spirit! The Savior has redeemed the day! And doesn’t it dawn on you that He. Is. Faithful like that? He is!

In bed at night, when everything is quiet, you ponder more about Him, His will, and His purposes. And you remember the book you’ve been reading, that chapter about consecration that caught your attention. You are beginning to realize that embracing consecration [a life dedicated to God, set apart for holy purpose] will actually remove all feelings of envy, jealousy, discontent, bitterness, of desiring to live the lives of other people. For if you willingly and fully consecrate yourself to God, you  focus only on Him and His will, and you wait on Him, not minding the things you do not have and cannot do and enjoy. You think about St. Paul bound and buffeted by the “thorn in his flesh”, yet, he embraced consecration and rejoiced no matter what.

You like this:

Prayer creates an interest in consecration, then prayer brings one into a state of heart where consecration is a subject of delight, bringing joy of heart, satisfaction of soul, contentment of spirit.

The consecrated soul is the happiest soul. There is no friction whatever between him who is fully given over to God and God’s will. There is perfect harmony between the will of such a man and God, and His will. And the two wills being in perfect accord, this brings rest of soul, absence of friction, and the presence of peace.

~ The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer

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Journey with Jesus,

Like Gideon’s Question

Gideon was quietly threshing wheat in the winepress, trying very hard to hide from the Midianites. For in those times, the Lord had given Israel into the hand of Midian for 7 years, for they did evil in the sight of God. Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites. And so it was, while Gideon was doing his work, an Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree, and saluted Gideon thus, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

And Gideon was quick to answer him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lordbring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” (See Judges 6).

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Subconsciously, I have been echoing Gideon’s question over and over these many years. I had not dared ask it straight before the Lord in prayer, or uttered it to the elders of our Church, or to any brother or sister in Christ. It is a silent question somewhere deep in my mind that begs to be answered nonetheless.

Gideon asked, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles…?”

In season of great physical suffering coupled with fear that makes the heart tremble, I had asked his question in varying forms. During those hard times, when a preacher or a brother or sister in Christ testifies and tells of the goodness of the Lord, of His unfailing love, His promises, and His miracles that He has wrought in His Church, questions automatically hover over my mind. Often, I do not give it any moment of attention, but it’s there. Silent, nevertheless, it has power to diminish one’s faith and courage. Today, I’m addressing it for the first time.

In the midst of great trials, these questions come automatically:

If God is always good, why doesn’t He take away my suffering?

If God loves me so much, why does He let me endure this? Why do I feel His severity instead, like He’s punishing me rather than loving me?

If the Lord is with me, why doesn’t He do something about my suffering? Why does He let me experience over and over this kind of terror?

If God promised healing, why is it so long coming? What is He waiting for?

Where are His miracles in my life that beloved brethren in Church testify about? If He is with me, why doesn’t He perform them also to me?

And so on.

Remember, I never ask them consciously or even audibly. They just come whenever I’m confronted with a salutation like the angel’s before Gideon and I see the opposite happening in my life. I always try to cover them up with more prayers, praise and thanksgiving. Instead of voicing them out, I choose to honor God.

And I know that this is the way of our faith: to honor and worship God in and out of trials and hardships.

Gideon hastened to prepare his offering: the meat and broth of a young goat he slaughtered and unleavened bread. In the midst of sheer poverty and hardship, Gideon didn’t skimp to honor God with his offering.

Whatever kind of “poverty” we may be going through right now: spiritual, physical (poor health or any disability), financial – I believe there is always something that we can honor God with in our lives.

After asking his question, which, by the way, is a form of doubt, the Lord answered Gideon, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Emphasis mine).

Gideon doubted his capability, but the Lord answered him again, “Surely I will be with you…”

These, again, are promises. But shall we stay in that place of doubt, discouragement, helplessness, and inactivity? If, in ways we sometimes don’t understand, the Lord is pulling us up off the ground where we are slumped, shall we not receive His proffered hand and let Him lift us up yet again?

Just like Gideon who, in the end, accepted God’s commission to save Israel from the hands of her enemies, we shall also continue to walk with our Savior and do that what we are called to do.

Has He not sent us?

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Journey with Jesus,

Eternal Song and Peace that Passes Understanding

I was sitting on my swivel chair (used as my “wheelchair” around the house) in front of our bedroom window. I was listening to praise music as my morning devotion since I could not sing during those long months. The song crescendoed to a very glorious chorus and my spirit soared to great heights. As I was on that realm of light and delight and gravity-free, something posed a question in my heart, “If you were granted just one miracle, what would it be – for you to be able to walk again but not sing or sing but not be able to walk? You can choose only one.”

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To this, I instantaneously raised my arms and answered audibly, tears streaming down my face, “I want to be able to sing! I will always choose to sing God’s praise! Please, please, make me to sing!” And I cried and cried.

That was 5 or 6 years ago, and I had been given the glorious opportunity to sing praises in my morning and evening private worship ever since.

Recently, Faith, my good friend and a sister in Christ who is young enough to be my daughter, wrote me on FB informing me that her beloved daddy has gone to be with Jesus. I felt so sorrowful for her and her beloved mama who is also my friend. A kind of sorrow that you cannot put into words. I thought about the Word, from Genesis to Revelation, but I knew that the verses which I may send them – they know them by heart, too. So I kept silent and thought about them with love.

Last night, as I awoke from yet another short nap (my third that day because I haven’t been feeling well lately), I thought about my young friend Faith and her Dad whom she misses so much, and I thought about my health – how long will the illness and suffering last, when will healing come? I thought about my own very young children. My heart was gripped with sorrow.

It was time to get up and sing praises to the Lord and pray and read the Bible (Felix was in the other room already praising and worshiping). But it was one of those times that I didn’t know what to say in my prayer. That I didn’t even know how and where to start. But I knew something that I could do with my whole sorrowing heart, soul, mind, and weak, ailing body – sing. Just sing to God. Sing and let my soul and heart express that which my lips could not. Sing with every weak fiber of my body and let the lyrics and melody speak that which I do not understand. And I needed not understand everything. It sufficed me to know that my God knows everything.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life. (Ps. 42:8)

Later on in our dimly-lit bedroom, I whispered to my husband about the peace that passes all understanding. I asked him how one could be still in the midst of great physical suffering, when part of the body becomes numb drawing the breath out and bringing the body into spiralling dizziness, weakness, and gasping for breath? One could be still, with heart and mind at rest in God, because the peace that passes all understanding dwells in him or her. And this peace, the people of the world can never comprehend or grasp.

I told my husband, as tears began to fall, that this, this peace, is with me. No, I need not understand everything.

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)

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Journey with Jesus,