In the Middle of Doubt

As sure as the sunrise, whenever I stumble, He reaches out to catch me.

Doubt has been flapping around me like vultures over a half-dead animal. Struggling with the high stress of caregiving and accompanying health problems, wrestling with disappointment and maybe even anger at God about how things have turned out in my life. The unhealed lacerations of past trauma making it hard to feel or receive anybody’s love, God’s love. Feeling that God’s love is conditional toward me. That I haven’t been able to get it right. I haven’t said or done the “correct” thing yet. My daily Word another disapproving censure. Out of yet another dark place I reached out to my sweet (and may I say oh-so-patient) sister. She had this to say: 

“God’s Spirit came to live in believers through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of love. We now live in Roman’s chapter 8 love. No condemnation love. No separation love.”  

And then she prayed: 

“Lord, we need revelation to sink down into our hearts! Change us! We can’t do it without you. We want to love you more truly and deeply. Amen.” 

Yes, I need revelation. That flash of Light in my darkness. And, let me say with deep thankfulness that whenever – always, as sure as the sunrise – whenever I stumble, He reaches out to catch me. Almost immediately. I am humbled and undone. 

In my daily reading the next morning were Paul’s writings about Jesus, who came as a priest in the order of Melchizedek, “not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). That word translated “indestructible” means no, not, or without (in other words it is impossible to) dissolve, disunite, destroy, demolish, overthrow, to render vain, to deprive of success, bring to naught, to render fruitless one’s desires or endeavors, to deprive of force, annul, abrogate.  

Jesus’ life is indestructible and our lives are hidden in His (Colossians 3:3). His plans and purposes, His desire and will, His power, His unity with me in the Spirit, are indestructible, cannot be destroyed, dissolved, rendered vain – not even by my weakness and wounds.  

And then I noticed that in the margin I had written, years ago, “Romans 8:38-39.” Nothing is able to separate us from the love of God. Soon after, in my inbox came this from a daily devotional1 I follow: 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 

OK, I’m listening. When this happens, I always know that God has a message for me.  

Well, the very next blog2 I read had this to say (thank you Alan Kearns!): 

“So often in life we are left scratching our head at how things have turned out; despite our best plans or efforts the unexpected has happened. We are left with a handful of question marks … we are mystified by the circumstances we find ourselves in, praying for His light on the matter … Be assured if you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, His Father is in control of your puzzle – He knows what the final picture is!” 

And then a link to this beautiful song. (Remember how I told you that God uses song lyrics to speak to me.) 

God Jehovah, Jehovah Rapha 

You’re our healer 

You and You Alone … 

In the middle of doubt 

In the thick of sorrow 

You say look up 

To where our help comes from 

If everything around us 

Says there is no hope 

We’re never gonna let go 

Of the hem of Your robe … 

We’re leaning on your power 

You’ll do what can’t be done … 

All depression, every worry 

Every sickness Lord, You heal 

All addiction, every family 

Every heartbreak Lord, You heal … 

You and You Alone3 

I looked up what Jehovah-Rapha means and found this at Got Questions. “Jehovah-Rapha has the power to heal physically (2 Kings 5:10), emotionally (Psalm 34:18), mentally (Daniel 4:34), and spiritually (Psalm 103:2–3). Neither impurity of body nor impurity of soul can withstand the purifying, healing power of Jehovah-Rapha.”4  

Yes, I need healing in all those areas – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. I need them all and I know He will do it. Because nothing can withstand His indestructible Life

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37 

He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert. Psalm 105:41 

RAPHA – Stephen Mcwhirter & Jason Clayborn (ART Music & Video) 

1Henri J.M. Nouwen, Daily Meditation, November 5, 2022 

2https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2022/11/05/the-puzzles-of-life/  

3Jehovah Rapha by Stephen Mcwhirter and Jason Clayborn 

4https://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovah-Rapha.html 

Image, A shaft of sunlight pierces the threatening clouds, by Mark Levisay  https://flic.kr/p/J9cBSr   

To make us rely not on ourselves …

It was like the Lord said, read your blog.

A miracle happened as I cared for my elderly parents a while back. I wanted to share it with you, but in the mean time my dear Dad passed into glory, and the caregiving for my bereaved Mom has been overwhelming. But I keep thinking that this may help someone else, so here it is.

You will understand how wonderful this was if I if I go back a little. Ever since I can remember, as the oldest daughter, I was made to feel that it was my responsibility to “save” the family. As a child as young as five I remember being asked to solve adult-weight possible catastrophes. So, my parent’s recent devastating health (dementia, COVID, COPD, heart failure) and resulting financial problems have triggered a lot of anxiety and panic and even despair in me.

This particular day, my parents called me in a panic because they had purchased 400 dollar’s worth of Target gift cards to send as gifts and were positive that either they had left them at the store on the counter or in the little basket of the motorized cart my dad was using, or that my mom had thrown them away in the garbage (part of the dementia is an obsessive urge to clean and clear away clutter). So, I went over there to help them find the cards, or, if possible have them canceled so they could get their money back.

First, I looked around in the house just in case. My dad said to look for a little grey Lowe’s bag and that he was pretty sure they were in the garbage. Luckily, they had failed to get the two cans out to the curb, and they were very full. So, I went through both, item by item, refilling garbage bags. Some of it was pretty ripe. Anyway, I found two little grey Lowe’s bags, but no cards. So, then we went down to Lowe’s to see if they could help us.

They were polite, though looked at us with pity. They said no gift cards had been turned in. My heart sunk deeper. The manager said I would have to call the 1-800 customer service number that is on the back of Target gift cards, as they were not Lowe’s products and they could do nothing. So, as my parents sat on a bench, I called the number and talked with a representative. She said she needed some numbers, which apparently are on the cards themselves because they were not on the receipt or the gift receipts containing the activation codes. In that case, she said she would send me an email and that I should respond with photos of the all the receipts.

I waited and waited but the email did not come. As I stood there, I asked God again to help us, and it was like he pointed me to the receipts I had in my hands and said if we had all the receipts and codes, why didn’t we have the cards too? I felt Him say that the cards were in the house. I knew that God had delayed the email so I wouldn’t get the cards canceled.

Let me go back again. A few months ago God gave me a blog post about these two verses:

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

That morning before I left my house I had been crying out to the Lord and asked him for a Bible verse I could hang on to that day. It was like he said to me, read your blog. Ha ha. So, I did and grabbed unto Philippians 4:6. I had just enough strength in the panic and despair to present my requests to God and try not to be anxious. As we drove back to the house, I cried out to God again, but this time said to him: it’s not up to me to save anybody, it’s up to you, and even if we never find the cards, I will trust completely in You and believe that you have good in mind for my parents. Suddenly, every burden lifted off me and I was at complete peace.

When we got back to their house I asked if I could poke around. I looked in every drawer, every closet, every shelf (I did find my mom’s glasses that had been missing for months!), under piles of junk mail, under furniture. I looked in the attic, in every room on the main floor, and in the basement. While in the basement, I felt sure that the cards were in the kitchen, though I had already searched there several times.

There are two deep drawers in the kitchen packed with random items and junk mail so that you can hardly open and close them. And as I took things out a few at a time, there were the cards about a third of the way down. I was jumping up and down and praising God and they were looking at me like I was strange, but smiling. I knew it was a witness to them because I had prayed with them that God would help us find the cards.

So, God did a “three-for” as my Dad used to say. I believe God healed me deep down of some of the childhood trauma and gave me faith to believe for other grave situations in my family, and he helped me find the gift cards, saving my parents a lot of money, and he showed them that he cares for and loves them. My sister later told me that she was praying “that God would show you where the cards were so that you would feel deep in your heart that God loves you, cares about you and would never leave you.” Thank you thank you thank you sister! God heard you and answered. Praise God for His love and mercy towards us!

But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God.

Broken Hearts

broken hearts 

broken hearts everywhere you go 

walking through crystal shards 

cutting again 

bloody feet 

bleeding hands 

jabbed with flashing slivers  

working deep 

rending despair   

yielding 

relentless 

 hope 

… he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound … Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. John 19:34 

Image by Peter.Lorre https://flic.kr/p/3yeriz  

It Takes Time to Grow

“My times are in your hands.”

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Psalm 13:2 

Sometimes it feels like it takes forever to heal, to change, to mature, to overcome. Sometimes I feel like I will never grow up out of my trauma. I struggle with the same dark thoughts, negative self-talk, unbelief for years. I cry out with David, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” The following verses and quotes have encouraged me in the past weeks. If you are struggling and feel like it is taking way too long, may they bless you too. 

Believe Him in the darkest hours. See His faithfulness emerge rock solid. Now we see His truer essence. Now we know faith in our Savior – from faith to faith. Joy! Things take the time they take. ~G.W. https://collinsgw.wordpress.com/2022/03/21/mystifying-dismay/  

“God still speaks today through dreams, visions, prophecies and we can make the mistake of thinking they are “now” words for this present time or the immediate future. We have to learn to submit the timing to God. The fulfilment may actually be for years in the future. We need to practice patience while we wait … It takes time to grow.” — Eagle Sight https://eaglesight.blog/2022/04/08/joseph-hero-of-the-faith-4/  

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4  

The real mystery of grace is that it always arrives in time. — Ann Voskamp 

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand … Psalm 31:14 

“God has absolute control over time and what David realized when he uttered those words [My times are in your hand] is this: that God has absolute control over the times in our lives. He’s never late. He’s never premature. He has a time for every situation, every circumstance. If we will just commit our lives totally into His hands, we’ll find that our times are in His hands. What a relief from pressure, from strain, to know that God has control over the time element in our lives. Our times are in God’s hands.” — Derek Prince 

I have to keep reminding myself that God’s timing is always right and healthy for me, as I keep trusting and walking with Him. Some seeds take a very long time to sprout and grow. And some have to struggle up through a lot of rubble. Sometimes they seem dead, but life is coming – I have to wait for it. In the mean time …  

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73.26 

Wait for the Lord; 
Be strong and let your heart take courage; 
Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Image, free download from Pixabay

Rebuild Me

[Good morning all! Here is my first post with the change of name from Hidden Treasure to Wrestling Word.]

Create (choose, create as when You created the heavens and the earth) 

in me a pure (clean) heart (inner person, soul, mind, inclinations, resolutions, will, emotions, passions, thinking, reflection, memory, courage), O God,  

and renew (make new, rebuild, repair) a steadfast (established, stable, secure, enduring, securely fixed, directed aright, prepared, ready) spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (my amplification from Strong’s Concordance) 
 

There are three words that reach out and comfort me in this amplification: choose, memory, and rebuild

Choose: There is an element of choice in the word translated “create” in this Psalm. The Hebrew word is the same one used in Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth. God chose, He was willing, to do that, knowing the pain and suffering it would cause Him. Yet, He was willing. For the joy. For the joy of my company. For the joy of a relationship with me. The thought is mind-boggling! In the same way God chooses, wills in me, creates in me a clean heart.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Matthew 8:2-3 

Memory: Many of us have bad, clinging memories of trauma and abuse. They bring torment and lead to bitterness and anger and lashing out. God can (and does!) clean and purify them. And, in the end, He will wipe them away. 

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. Psalm 73:21-23 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147: 3 

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 

Rebuild: He rebuilds my broken-down spirit, my wrecked life, making it stable, secure, enduring, securely fixed. He starts over from scratch with us, and in the end, He will make all things new. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 

After a second reading, I see that there are four, not three, words that speak to me. The fourth is “ready,” a ready spirit. Ready for what He has for me each day. Ready for His return. Ready, fixed, courageous. 

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you … 1 Peter 1: 3-4 (ESV) 

If you would be made new Salvation

Image, Wrecked House, Union Beach, NJ by Wavian https://flic.kr/p/dwz1PG  

Unarmed Hungers 

Naming our hungers helps. But they must be disarmed too.

This is the place 
where unnamed hungers 
are fed, the place 
of clear water, 
refreshment. 

A fellow blogger, Deep calls to deep, recently posted a poem, a redux of, or leading back to, the 23rd Psalm (full poem below). As I read the portion above, instead of “unnamed hungers,” at first I saw “unarmed hungers.” I started to laugh at myself, but then I thought, no, our hungers often are armed and need to be disarmed.  

Even unnamed hungers can be armed. They may be unnamed because they are unconscious or subconscious. Pushed down, walled off. We may not know what is fully going on down there, sometimes screaming for relief, sometimes huddled in a ball. Only God knows our hearts. But there is sure to be included unnamed hungers for love, acceptance, respect, recognition, approval, belonging, family. A hunger to be known. To be heard. 

Naming our hungers helps. But they must be disarmed too. What arms our hungers? Anger, rage, unforgiveness, bitterness, rebellion, blame, resentment, insistent claims for defrauded rights, vengeance, suspicions and assumptions, hopeless expectations. Could they even be armed with self-righteousness, pride, prejudice, denial? How can we receive his hope, strength and solace when we have armed ourselves against needing it? Against trust? 

Let us surrender to the One who fills every hunger, for Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger” (John 6:35). Let’s lay down our arms, give ourselves up, yield to his love and care, trust, rest in Him. 

You lift my head; my vision clears. 
The blessing cup overflows. 

Psalm 23 redux by Carla A. Grosch-Milleri (Blogged by Deep calls to deep https://deepcallstpdeep.wordpress.com/2021/08/30/psalm-23-redux/

This I know: 
My life is in your hands. 
I have nothing to fear. 

I stop, 
breathe, 
listen. 

Beneath the whirl of what is 
is a deep down quiet place. 
You beckon me to tarry there. 

This is the place 
where unnamed hungers 
are fed, the place 
of clear water, 
refreshment. 

My senses stilled, 
I drink deeply, 
at home in timeless territory. 

In peril, I remember: 
Death’s dark vale holds no menace. 
I lean into You; 
Your eternal presence comforts me. 
I am held tenderly. 

In the midst of all that troubles, 
that threatens and diminishes, 
You set abundance before me. 
You lift my head; my vision clears. 
The blessing cup overflows. 

This I know: 
You are my home and my hope, 
my strength and my solace, 
and so shall You ever be. 

i Psalms Redux: Poems and Prayers. Carla A. Grosch-Miller. Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd. 2014. 

Image, photograph copyright by Jack Bair 

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