Faith for Glory

I’ve been treasuring something in my heart, I guess the way Mary did when Jesus delighted and surprised her–before He proved Himself to the world. It’s a doozy to me, but part of that is the timeliness of the revelation amongst the general struggles I’ve had. So, over the past few years my faith peaked, and has since faltered a bit. The peak lasted between my own healing and Debora’s, and I saw all things of God through a different lens–one I never knew existed. You know, faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1)”. When I was healed that took on new meaning, I discovered that God was so much bigger than the things we could see or understand, and that He would and does do more than we can see or understand. But, after the peak came the fall, where I witnessed less and less of His awesomeness and therefore have come to expect less and less of Him.

Some would say this lowered expectation of God is a more appropriate guideline. That it’s arrogant or ignorant to expect more of Him in this day and age. It’s certainly easier to fit that “God” into my schema and life. People don’t need you to explain or convince them to have faith in a God who helps our but isn’t a real Helper. That “God” is simple enough for humans without the Holy Spirit to understand. You don’t get disappointed by the One who Can answer but choose not to. I don’t cry as much this way. Don’t feel the need to lie prostrate on the floor before the Almighty God and plead for the needs of the people He created…

The burden might seem lifted when the only real prayer you say in a day is, “Your will be done”, right? Because it doesn’t bind us with the desires of our hearts. It pawns off the responsibility of intercessory love so we can get back to the hard work He has called us to.

But…that’s not real faith. That’s trusting in ourselves and hoping in a god as powerful as a turbo boost of good luck.

That’s not the God we serve.

We serve the One who created us. Who chose us, delights in us, rescues us, heals us, helps us, guides us, intercedes for us, who became flesh for us, who was cursed and hung on a tree for us, forgave us, and loves us. He loves us too well for us to overlook the hard parts of His calling and our faith. I will choose to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16), I will declare the works I have known Him to do, and I will not belittle Him by expecting things like that to end.

Jesus did many miracles and healed many in the gospels. Some say He doesn’t do that stuff anymore, but I’m living proof that He does. He is glorified when people see His hand at work like that. And He was in the healing business before He became flesh. In Numbers 12, Miriam complained about her brother Miriam. That was particularly offensive to God because it was like grumbling against Him. He punished her with leprosy, which would get her put out of the camp and eventually would be the end of her. Moses did NOT say, “Oh gracious God, your will be done!”, or, “Thank you for punishing her, she really hurt my feelings and obviously she deserved it.” Nope. This man, who God had just said is “faithful in all my house…and he beholds the form of the Lord” (12:7) saw the leprosy and “cried out to the Lord, ‘O God, please heal her–please“. We know this is a foreshadowing of how Jesus would pray for the lost from His place on the cross. But it was literal in this case regarding physical healing as well–God answered Moses’ prayer.

God didn’t look down on Moses for praying that way, Later he is described as the most humble man who ever lived. So it’s not prideful to pray like that. Not faithless to ask for miracles. He set a great example and it’s our job to follow it.

With that said, please join me in praying in faith for total healing for Lyn, Julie, Karen, and another unnamed friend, all with stage 4 cancer. Lyn has a PET scan tomorrow (Monday), and expects to get the results Wednesday. I noticed that Moses and all the sick people who Jesus and the disciples healed were not expected to explain why they wanted the healing. Perhaps it’s because the reasons don’t matter That every person is equally valuable to the God who doesn’t show favoritism. And because it doesn’t matter how righteous we are, we don’t deserve His salvation, healing, or anything else. But He blesses us with it anyway, because Jesus bore our sins. In Psalm 116:5, it says the death of every saint is precious to God. He cares about our lives and deaths! I’m not suggesting that life on earth is any better than eternity in heaven. But these ladies all have the desire to stay on earth longer, and I ask that we pray for His supernatural healing, not for the sake of their great doctors, but in spite of the doctors, for the sake of our precious, perfect father. May they be healed fully, in such a way that the One who does it receives the credit. To Him be the glory!

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Real Faith

This time last year I was praying for people with the confidence of knowing that all I prayed for were healed or at least whose conditions didn’t worsen. I’m not exaggerating. When God healed me He left me with a powerful faith and, I suppose, ordained my steps to come in contact with those He wanted to heal. Maybe He was protecting me from seeing the sad side while He strengthened and prepared me for that. Either way, it sure is easy to believe your prayers matter when He answers them all.

It’s a lot harder to pray with serious, passionate faith when you know it might not matter. You might look like an idiot. They might die anyway. You might have given someone false hope or become a stumbling block. You wonder if you overstated God. Maybe they’ll blame you for getting the miracle they would have preferred to go to someone else. All people of faith likely encounter at least one of these issues, even if it doesn’t bother them like it does me.

I’ve told you before how lonely it can be as a miracle recipient. Your friends are in (appropriate) awe of what He did for you, but few can relate. The enemy doesn’t stop attacking just because God’s hand touched us so perfectly, and we don’t magically turn into superstars of faith who need only a moment of prayer to face hard times. We mira-cured (yup, I just created a word, like it? As in “miracle” and “cured” combined. How many believers do you think it would take to share the good news about His miracles to get that word used into mainstream use?) struggle with fears that the miracle will come “untrue/undone” in some way, or that something worse will happen that overshadows the goodness. Some of us feel so shocked about having been mira-cured that we “know” God wouldn’t give us another awesome miracle down the road. When pondering this today, I realized I’m in that camp. If something really bad happened to me, my immediate response would not be, “Wow, what a great opportunity to commune with God! I can’t wait to see how He fixes it this time!”. Nope. If I got really bad news again I would paste a smile on my face (like I always do, what’s that about? I start thanking every staff member profusely, and apologize for taking up space), and by the time I got to my car I would have my whole funeral planned.

I do not say this as a prophecy, just as an embarrassing truth. I decided it’s better to face now than to have to learn the lesson the hard way. Because the tragedy of that scenario wouldn’t be that I died, but that I lost faith, which is the primary requirement for glorifying God. The lesson shouldn’t be that God maxes out on miracles. It should be that our faith is ever-growing and stretching. Despite what we know about people dying. No matter how many times we have prayed and seen the opposite of what we’re asking for happen, we must try again. We will not grow weary of doing good. We will not fall away and lean on our own understanding when times are tough. We will not discount God because it’s easier to use human terms and expectations. It was true yesterday that all things that are impossible with men are possible with God. And tomorrow, the same will be true.

In Mark 9:14-29 there is an awesome story about a man whose son was possessed with an evil spirit. The disciples had the authority to cast it out, but even though they did tons of great works, they could not cast it out. Did the man go home and complain about the wasted trip? Nope. He took his son to the leaders and asked Jesus for help. Did he have faith that Jesus would heal him? Not much. He said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (v. 22).

So, this guy wasn’t certain Jesus would or could fix it, but he was desperate enough to stick around.
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He was like, “IF you can!” Can’t you hear the indignation there? The man should have had faith, because he knew enough about Jesus to bring the boy there in the first place! But, like me, this guy struggled a bit. The man responded, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Think about that. He said he believed, but acknowledged the difficulty. He knew that Jesus could help his unbelief in the first place. It seems weird, to ask the guy you want to believe in for help believing in Him. But he was being honest. It’s hard stuff. I’m sure his faith had been destroyed bit by bit when each disciple had failed at their attempts to cast the demon out.

Eventually Jesus cast it out and the disciples were confused about why they couldn’t do it themselves. Jesus said that kind had to be driven out by prayer (many versions say ‘and fasting’). Maybe if the disciples could do endless works without stumbling they would have gotten big heads. Maybe their training was sort of like my year of everyone being healed. And no matter what your equivalent of that training time is, it’s on to the next phase and we all have to step it up a notch. Pray more. Fast more. Focus more on God, His kingdom, righteousness, and sovereignty, and less on how we can pray and intervene on behalf of other people.

Romans 8:5, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires”

Not Enough

It’s been almost 2 years since my diagnosis. This time in 2012 my dad drove from West Palm (7 hours) to watch the girls while I went for an ultrasound on the lump in my breast. I had prayed for immediate, good news and that is what I got. Too bad we learned a few weeks later that they were wrong!!!! During the ultrasound the technician proudly announced that my lump was just a clogged milk duct and cancelled the mammogram I was supposed to have right after. I thought that meant my dad had driven all the way across the state to help for no reason, and I had missed Abigail’s Halloween parade, which was at her school at the same time. Of course, when we learned that it was actually a misdiagnosis and I had cancer, those details turned out to be the least of my worries.

I will always think of that day around Halloween, and it was on my mind today as I watched my biggest baby march proudly around the school in her unicorn costume. I can say with absolute certainty that she is no worse for having gone through my cancer and treatments with me. In fact, her faith is stronger and she sees the Lord in more things than before. We prayed so much that the girls would not be destroyed because of the attacks from the Destroyer, and God definitely answered those prayers. Plus, obviously, many, many more.

By the end of today’s parade I was smacked in the face with the reality that the world didn’t stop being a horrible place just because the Lord healed me. I learned that a strong, young believer named Jaime is days from death. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer when she had an infant, and that little boy is now 4 years old. By all accounts, that little guy is about to lose his mother. The cancer is in her liver and is causing her excruciating pain.

I remember ruminating once that this is how it goes: First, everyone has high hopes, then that fades and so do the prayers and belief that a miracle could occur. Finally it gets so bad that everyone starts praying for death to take you, to put you out of your misery. I think this has happened with Jaime’s family. She has a husband and parents who love her and no one can stand seeing her in this pain. I imagine she would rather not live more days like this but feels so guilty succumbing because of her child. Her son. Her lovely, precious, and perfect son.

I don’t know the boy’s name but I know he’s wonderful. And that he doesn’t understand. And that he’s on track to have to go through all the awful issues I prayed my own children could avoid. I often think the good Lord answered my prayers for my daughter’s sake…and with some difficulty I’m going to stretch my faith for this next part: I BELIEVE HE WILL ANSWER OUR PRAYERS TO ENTIRELY HEAL JAIME . For His glory.

Many people remind me that He doesn’t heal us all, but (I will say it again, and again), who are we to decide who He will heal? If we pray halfheartedly for healing “because He only heals some of us”, do we actually follow His command to pray in faith (James 5)? And to pray AND believe (Mark 11:24)? Are we actually doing it because we afraid that if he doesn’t heal the person and we thought He would, we will lose faith in Him? Is it just an easy way out to not really put our hearts into praying for healing?

It takes some difficulty to believe Jaime will be healed, but I am doing it. I did it for Debora and when He healed her it was so much more meaningful to me than if I had been just watching from the sidelines. Or waiting for her to die. So I challenge you all to pray with me. To suspend all understanding of what you know about science and the way things usually work, and to go all out in your prayers and belief that she will be healed. Ignore Satan and His lies. Those that whisper “it’s too late” and “no one is healed at this point”. By definition a miracle is a supernatural, unexpected change that we cannot explain away. So we do not lose the hope that He gave us two years ago. Or last week. We maintain this hope and earnest expectation of the good news to come.

Come, let us glorify the Lord together. We shall rejoice together for the upcoming healing of  the Lord’s daughter, Jaime. For her sake, for her son’s sake, and for yours.

Psalm 17:17
Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in them from their foes.

Update

We were supposed to get the pathology results from my biopsy on Wednesday or Thursday. I was unfazed that we still hadn’t heard by the weekend, but this morning was thrown for a loop. Dr. McAlpine left a voicemail first thing in the morning saying to call him. Then his nurse called my cell phone and hung up after one ring. I immediately called back and the receptionist said she couldn’t tell me the results. So I waited, anxiously, for a call back. Confidence dropped, the tears fell. I was sure it was bad news, my mind reeled and imagined how I would remember this day when my world changed for the worse. As the minutes ticked by I tried to pray and found no peace, so I just repeated, “I trust you. I trust you. This is part of your plan. I believe in your plan.” It was pretty hard to really believe during that time, though.

Finally, the phone rang. Lisa, Dr. McAlpine’s nurse and I exchanged the required pleasantries. Then she told me…”No cancer, the pathology was all clear.” Hooray!

God is awesome no matter what, but I sure appreciate getting good news like this. And as much as I hated the scary waiting, it made me even happier to hear that I am still cancer-free.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it” 2 Timothy 3:14

I wish my faith was strong enough that I hadn’t gotten flustered by the ominous sounding message. That I hadn’t faltered when I thought the world was spinning out of control. Or that I hadn’t even noticed it start to spin backwards in the first place. But I’m a work in progress. I am being perfected to become more like Jesus and less like “me”. One day I’ll get there.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6

Sadly, we are surrounded by people who are going through massive pain and sorrow. Some of them face more difficulties in a day than the rest of us ever deal with. Please join us in praying for a few of these people. Each of them was created by our God, for His glory. Each of them has the potential to be rescued in a miraculous way. Every one has been going through a fear-filled time like the one I described above, and could use a break. Let us support them in prayer, that no matter how closely they are walking with God, they will get closer, believe more, hope more, and expect more. This is the time to see God do amazing work, and I can’t wait to see how He turns it all around.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your majesty’s hand…” Daniel 3:17

Cancer: One is a single mom diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Her daughter lives in an entirely different country, which makes it extremely difficult for both of them. We believe she has already been healed but needs wisdom about future treatments and scans, is getting some of the run around from doctors, etc. Jaime is a young girl who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer two years ago. It has been spreading and she needs wisdom about doctors and treatments. Let’s just pray for total, miraculous healing and for confidence and faith in the meantime. Jessica is the one who had lung cancer with clear results last time. Today she had a routine scan, so pray that it is clear and that she will keep getting great news. Scarlett is a new breast cancer friend who has had many health problems in the past. She has a one-year-old daughter and is going through chemo right now. She is having a really hard time feeling God’s peace and joy so pray that He would fill her with those and confidence. Yaacov also has a friend whose father was just diagnosed with kidney cancer, and pain brought him to the doctor in the first place, which is never good. Pray for faith and peace, plus of course total healing. Finally, there is a family member with a mass that we are believing is benign. Pray for an easy and accurate surgical biopsy.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:12

Babies: Baby A is having an MRI in a few weeks because she has some symptoms of a disruption in her right hemisphere. Pray for the test to go smoothly, accurate results, and absolutely no problem in her brain. Just have the symptoms disappear! Also, someone we love is facing an unexpected pregnancy and we pray for God to guide her perfectly and to help the family dynamics and make all the correct, important decisions. Finally, a praise! I think I forgot to follow-up in the past–awhile back I blogged that our niece’s soft spot seemed to have closed up. The surgeon said it hadn’t and she is fine! I know that He just fixed that.

God Will Move

My faith is weak right now. All around me I see heartache and sorrow among the people of faith. We all need to see Him move. To be reminded of His mightiness. Of His faithfulness. In the meantime we can remember what He’s done, but it’s not enough. We need more. We will claim His promises and wait with urgent expectation for them to be fulfilled.

Jeremiah 33:3, “ Call<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> things you do not know.”

I can’t tell you the passion I feel for this desire to see Him move. He still answers little prayers, which I know are faith-builders for the big ones, but He has filled me with a yearning for more. I have prayed with faith for the healing of so many lately, and we have not seen them healed. Yet.  It is not about me, I know that. But it is about Him. His word says He will not let His people be put to shame. So…where are the miracles? I don’t even care if it’s healing that we see, I just want to see something. And I know others do too. It is time.

“Then you will call,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> and the Lord will answer;  you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” Isaiah 58:9

Sometimes people pray for things like this for selfish reasons, but I don’t think mine are. It’s not that I don’t believe He can work, or will work. It’s not that I even have a specific prayer that I’m pouting about Him not answering. It’s that people think they have so little hope. It’s hard to convince them otherwise. And it’s not just nonbelievers, who don’t know better. Every time He doesn’t answer a prayer that we offer in faith it’s like it puts a notch in the limb we’ve put ourselves out on. He knows that. He will move before the branch breaks…won’t He?

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(I)”> must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”. I am earnestly seeking Him and begging for the reward of seeing Him do something big. Only God is sovereign, and only He decides what “reward” it is that I will get, but I’m not going to stop asking. He has blessed me abundantly, but Abraham set a great example of asking boldly for more and more grace when He asked God to spare Sodom for the sake of a few (Gen 18:22-32). 

I have a long list of people who are very sick that I’m praying for. Please consider adding them to your prayer list too, and I will post updates about the amazing ways God responds.
First, there is a woman named Barbara with precious, young, grandchildren who was told she likely has extensive cancer in her abdomen and lots of organs. Last I knew she was hospitalized for the pain and things were not looking good. Next, there is a young lady named Jackie who is unmarried and always wanted a family, etc. She was just diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and they started her on chemo while in the hospital. She is healthy, not a smoker or anything like that. Another is a man named Ryan, whose wife posted a note on here and is praying for his miraculous healing from Stage 4 stomach cancer. He was diagnosed last year, when his daughter was born. He is currently in a lot of pain and has a scan on Monday. They have a blog you can follow at http://watersfamilyforum.blogspot.com/. Lastly for the new ones, I can’t believe I didn’t post this sooner, but my little niece, Nora, has a tentative diagnosis of craniosyntosis, which means her soft spot closed up too early. It’s a huge deal because if that’s what it is they need to open her skull before her brain grows to be too big for it’s space. They found out on the one-year anniversary of their house burning down! Satan will do anything to destroy us! Anyway, she has a consultation with a surgeon on Monday. 
Please always keep praying for Debora P.’s healing, and Alison A., Jessica H., and my continued cancer-free health.
Two late praises are that: My friend Kristy, who has been struggling with lyme’s disease for a very long time seems to have been healed. When I saw her she was claiming His victory over the enemy’s apparent dominion in her body! Also, Alison had some symptoms of returning cancer a few weeks ago but a scan showed no cancer! He is definitely at work in all of us!

Psalm 50:15 “Sacrifice thank offerings<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AD)”> to God,
    fulfill your vows<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”> to the Most High,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AF)”>
15 and call<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AG)”> on me in the day of trouble;  I will deliver<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AI)”> you, and you will honor<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AJ)”> me.”

My hip

My hip hurts. It has hurt for months and months. It isn’t cancer. It bothers me immensely, and this is the story of why:

In 2004 I developed this same hip pain. It was diagnosed as bursitis, but I don’t know if that’s what it really was. I was a new Christian and prayed about it, fully expecting an instant removal of the pain. That didn’t happen. The pain worsened and after a few months I was worried. I was thinking I might become crippled and whatever else healthy people like myself worry about. I went to visit my mom in Michigan and went to church, not expecting anything special. Suddenly, the preacher announced that God was going to heal someone’s right hip and asked who that was. I was about to raise my hand, but the person directly in front of me did instead. Not only was it weird, but what are the chances that out of hundreds of people, the person in front of me was the only other one with pain in his right hip? Anyway, that guy got the prayer and joy of the moment, but I still got the healing. From the second I stood up, my hip never hurt again.
Until now. After eight years, the pain is back. It started hurting out of nowhere, right after I was healed. I mentioned it then and Dr. Rassam had a hip x-ray done, which was clear. But the pain has remained. I think it’s been at least 9 months.
This is physically manageable pain, but is mentally taxing. What does it all mean? Why did it come back right when God kicked cancer out of my body? Why can’t I get rid of it now? It makes me doubt–people who are healed usually deal with fears of it returning, and this seems like the devil reminding me that cancer could come back like my hip pain. On bad days every step I take I feel this pain and push those thoughts down.
I have prayed a lot about praying about this pain, because it confuses me so much. On one hand, I feel that this could be like the thorn of Paul’s. He prayed three times for God to remove it, and God didn’t (2 Cor 12:7-9). God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Maybe the pain in my hip is like that. Just a reminder the God is the boss and I’m nothing on my own.
Or…maybe I don’t have enough faith to convince God to heal my hip. I’m so sure that it was faith that got me healed in the first place. It is my faith that has grown the most during this journey. I understand it so much better now, and value it above all else. So, it would make sense if it was my faith under attack here.
I’ve tried praying boldly and still have the pain. I really don’t know what God wants, but I don’t want to live with it. I don’t want to change history from having been healed of it to having been “healed for 8 years” from it. And I don’t want to look at my sick friends and tell them to believe God will heal them if I don’t have the nerve to believe He will heal just this piddly little issue I have.
So, I have decided to take a leap of faith and believe this is indeed a faith issue. I am going to take this as an opportunity to increase my faith and believe He will heal me, even though I have no evidence or promises from Him. It’s the same thing I had to do when He miraculously healed my cancer, but this is a much smaller ordeal. I’m skipping all the months of heartache and sorrow in between. 
This time I’m going straight to believing in my healing, the way I interpret the Bible as requiring. 1) I will pray and believe He will answer. Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 2) I will speak as though it has occurred even before it has, just like Abraham (Romans 4) 3) I will tell the world what He has done (Luke 8:39).
I realize this is a little weird, because God already healed my cancer, which was the reason for this blog. But so many of us struggle with believing He will answer our prayers, no matter how huge or minor they are. And believing is a huge part. Maybe the most important. Much of me wants to just live with the pain. I’ve been doing it for almost a year now anyway. But I’m feeling like it would be hypocritical of me to encourage others to pray for healing while I’m not having any faith that a minor joint issue will be resolved. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and I don’t want to settle. It would be like I’m doing a deal with the devil–trading cancer for hip pain. So, I will expect full healing. Even after He answered my much more important prayers about healing my cancer, this makes me nervous. I keep cringing as I’m typing, thinking about not posting this at all. But I will do it and document this experience.
I don’t know how long it will take, or honestly if He wants to remove the pain. The status on Day 1: My hip hurts. I have prayed for healing and praised Him with thanks healing me. 
Deuteronomy 32:3, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!