How Pain So Often Blinds Us To The Truth

Aleo vera

(FreeImages.com/Sergio Roberto Bichara)

Yesterday while standing in my kitchen, I had that moment of unexpected revelation.  It was regarding a season that started almost 14 years ago now.

The season I was recalling lasted for at least seven years, though it varied in intensity at times.  It was a season of life that I would always call, “…a time of great pain and even darkness.”

There were times during that season that I felt I was suffocating — completely overwhelmed — though keeping a smile on my face at most times.

I remember the times though of feeling like I was screaming on the inside.

I remember asking God the question, “Where are you?”  I felt abandoned and left to myself to fend for myself — to hold it all together.  Yet, I knew that I was merely a thread away from losing it all together.

I remember the guilt too.  Afterall, I was a Christian, and “Christians are supposed to have it all together, right?”

Without spending too much time rehashing the old pain, I have always referred to that time as a time of darkness and pain.  Even the house in which I lived was dark and depressing in the winter and hot and suffocating in the summer.

Then entered the season that started seven years ago when God began to do a deep healing in my life (and continues to do so).

It took awhile to get there, but I remember when I finally had the courage to ask God where He was when I felt all alone.

I didn’t ask Him the question for awhile because I was too angry and even more so, too afraid of His answer.

I remember how when I finally asked, His answer came and began to heal so many splintered pieces of my heart.  Immediately after asking Him the question, the verse came flooding into my heart, “As a mother comforts her child so I will comfort you.”  He then showed me a picture of me sitting on a rocking chair holding my babies, but instead of it just being me and my babies, I saw that He was rocking us all.

Years passed, and I thought that I was completely healed from that painful season until yesterday…

Yesterday while standing in my kitchen, God suddenly spoke to my heart with such simplicity but profound clarity.  He told me that I was still afraid of that dark and painful season.

I was afraid of being overwhelmed like the past — of sometime, somehow feeling that same terror: of feeling all alone and completely incapable.  I was afraid of abandonment and failure.  Fear.  It was the biting jaws of fear still nipping at my heels that I feared.

The fear of the past indicated that there was still a string attached to my past and therefore, I could not completely walk free.

As soon as I recognized my fear, I cried out to God.  His response was spoken with such gentle authority.  He reminded me that I am not the same person.

Part of the pain of that season was because I did not know who I was.  I did not truly know Who He is.  Part of the pain was because of my wrong identities and the pressure I put on myself because of what I did not understand.

God then spoke healing words over me, letting me know that I will not go through that season again because I am not the same person.  

This morning, God then opened my eyes to even more truth, which ushered in more healing.

I had been comforted by the picture and words that Jesus was with me, but I remember struggling with why there were not tangible proofs of His presence with me during that season.

This morning, the memories came rushing in, and suddenly I was confronted with the tangible reminders of how God had helped me.  Because of those tangible ways, I never did lose it all together.

Suddenly this morning, my heart was flooded with gratefulness and even repentance for how I had been blinded to God’s provision.

I began to remember Miss Shirley who would find nice things in others trash and would wash and clean it up for my family: the brand-new coat and scarf that all my boys would wear, the brand-new shoes, the clothes for Jonathan and I, the household items and food…

I remembered Jean B. who bought two beautiful outfits for my third little boy.  I remember the beautiful outfit she bought my oldest so that he matched even her own grandson.  I remembered her love and acceptance and how she even watched our kids on occasion for doctor appointments.

I remembered Sean’s grandmother who bought Christmas gifts for our little boys.

I remembered Jessica who bought beautiful outfits for my second-born and who bought Christmas gifts for our boys at least one year.

I remembered Michelle who passed on clothes and shoes to me and who didn’t need to but exchanged babysitting with us so my husband and I could go on free dates.  I remember her friendship during a lonely time.

I remembered Danielle who came straight to my house after long days of teaching to watch my kids for half an hour so I could fix our house and pack to move.  She did this for several weeks even though she had three littles of her own.  That half hour was my sanity hour, and I felt that someone cared.

I remembered Tracy who thought I was an amazing mother and how her belief in me somehow comforted me even though I felt unworthy of it.

I remembered my mom who helped as much as she could though we lived a distance from each other for a portion of that dark season.

My heart began to overflow as I suddenly saw how God had been there all along.  The pain in my heart had allowed lies to enter, and as a result, I was blinded to the truth all along.

The truth is that I was a good mommy, though hurting and broken.  The truth is that God had brought people all along to help — people who offered just the hand we needed at the moment we needed it to keep me from completely breaking.

The truth is my belief in God was not anchored in a fairy tale.  The truth is my belief in God was right all along.  He hadn’t let me down.

It was my fears and the lies that had let me down.

God then began to show me that even my precious children were a constant reminder of the truth.  My oldest son’s name means protector.  Every time, I looked into his face, I was to be reminded that God is my protector.

My child that came at a season when I felt weak and insufficient has a name that means “strength.”  He was a reminder that God will send strength to me in my time of need.

My child that came in a season of great pain and darkness to me has a name that means “light-bringer and healer.”  God was reminding me that He had sent light and healing into my darkness and pain.

My child that came towards the tail end of that dark season has a name that means peace, fellowship, and grace.  God was telling me that the peace I craved, the fellowship that I was missing, and the grace that I didn’t understand because it was a mere theory to me was something that He was getting ready to explode within in my life.

A new season of healing was ushered into my life about the same time as the conception and then birth of my final child. His name means “Strong man of God.”  He is named after the one who proclaimed that God had come as “Immanuel” — that God had come to dwell among us.  It was that season where I finally understood the love of God and encountered His love personally in such a way that I am completely changed, even today. 

God indeed is my God, and He indeed dwells with me in love and fellowship… in peace and grace… in strength… in light… with healing… and I am who I am because He is Who He is.

Drowning?

Julia

(FreeImages.com/Irina Martynuk)

There are moments and even seasons in our lives when we feel like we are drowning — when life feels overwhelming.

I remember one of those moments a few months ago.  A situation had occurred that threatened to steal my peace and joy.

One morning, I awoke literally feeling as if waves were hitting me, and I was at risk of drowning.  The storm of my situation was overwhelming me.  I heard God speak very strongly to my heart: “Look at me!”  I still was too overwhelmed by “wave” after “wave” of emotional pain to look up.  Two more times, I heard God speak very firmly to my heart: “Look at me.”  The tone was more firm than I typically hear.  It was the tone of how a father might speak to a child that is terrified and losing control.  It was a tone of firm and loving authority.  His third call to me was finally the “lifeline” I needed to begin to look up.

I then asked God, “What do you want me to see?”  He immediately answered me with a picture of Him hanging on the cross.  I asked Him, “What more do I need to know about the cross?”

Circumstances in life can quickly descend upon us with an unanticipated fury, and depending on our position in relation to our view of those circumstances, we can quickly be swept “overboard” and drown in the “waves.”

A few months ago, God reminded me how the Israelites were brought to an impossible situation when escaping the Egyptians.  They were in a narrow valley, surrounded by steep mountain cliffs, trapped between the pursuing Egyptians on one side and the Red Sea on the other side.  Their obvious choices were to either die by the sword or die by drowning.

Exodus 14

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the seaon dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

God did the miraculous and parted the Red Sea!  What was impossible suddenly was possible!  Where there was no way, God made a way.  The Israelites didn’t have to choose the least horrible method of dying.  God gave them an entirely new solution!

I find it fascinating that so often what we see in the Old Testament, we see in a bigger and more incredible measure in the New Testament!

In the New Testament, we have the story of the disciples on a boat on the Galilee Sea when they see the figure of a man walking towards them on the water.  Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk towards Jesus… on the water!!!  The Biblical account then goes on to say that Peter began to see the wind and began to drown.  Jesus immediately comes to Peter, and Peter is able to safely return to the boat.

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

What I found interesting is that before Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he was able to walk on water!!!  It was only after he began to focus on the wind and waves that he began to drown.  It wasn’t that Peter’s circumstances changed; it’s that his perspective changed.  His position then changed in relation to his perspective: he began to sink.  Instead of walking on water, which speaks of authority, he began to succumb to the water and drown.

What stood out to me was that in the Old Testament, God parted the waters so the Israelites could walk through the sea without it touching them.  In the NT, Peter had authority/position above the waters.  He walked on the waters.  His position was based on His “view” or relationship to Jesus.  

What so profoundly spoke to me is that in Jesus, we are “positioned” to walk above our circumstances, meaning to have authority over them.  I know this can be quickly misunderstood, but we have authority in Jesus as His sons and daughters to “walk” above our circumstances and to not be victim to them.  

How?

We keep our eyes on Jesus.  We understand our position in Him — that we are not victims, but we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”

At the cross, Jesus won for us all that He is and has.  We are no longer helpless and hopeless.  We are positioned in Jesus to be victorious!!!