Who on earth likes to hear from God, “Not yet”? However, that is exactly the answer I received when I prayed about something very close to my heart. It is the fight of my life; my secret war; the hardest thing I have ever faced. It is the source of my greatest shame and my deepest fear. I have battled Fibromyalgia for 12 years now, and if you are one of those who thinks that Fibro is just a disease of the mind, I want to ask you to please reconsider. If I could be honest, I might have thought the same had it not been given to me. However, I want to take a few minutes to share with you some amazing things that God has been revealing to me this past week in the midst of increased struggle and pain.
Growing up I dealt with demonic oppression and as a result, my body was never at rest. I believe with all my heart that the physical pain I deal with now is a result of that trauma, and although God has freed me completely from the oppression, depression, suicidal tendencies, addictions, and fear that held me in bondage for so long, I still carry the effects in my body of that time. God promised me total healing when I was in Cali, Colombia over a year and a half ago, and I hold onto that promise every single day.
If I was God, I would have healed the body when I healed the spirit. That makes sense in my human mind. Total freedom, right? However, God says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord, ‘And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” He’s not in a hurry because His work is always complete. There are moments where I reach the end of my rope and I cry out to God. “Why won’t You heal me yet?” It is in those moments that, without fail, God speaks gently to my heart, saying, “Do you trust Me?”
This past week has been a really rough week physically. There have been stretches of time when the pain was nearly unbearable. I lost sleep because of the pain. I struggled to walk at times and had to bow out of certain activities because it was physically impossible to do them. If you really knew me, you would be hard pressed to find a bigger fighter for the things that matter to me. You would see one who is incredibly strong. I am a warrior. Because of this, fighting a disease every day that you can’t see and that most of the world believes doesn’t exist is an incredibly frustrating thing. It is a real temptation to believe the lies that because of my physical limitations, I am weak, unlovable, and defeated. The voice inside of me says, “Keep this hidden. Who would love someone so broken?”
However, the truth of God says something entirely different. This is His story, not mine. God says that I am made whole, that I am free, and that I am victorious, regardless of my present circumstances. He tells me that I am dearly loved. Knowing that what I fight is a direct result of Satan’s attacks on God’s purposes for my life makes me furious with the devil. For years I struggled with bitterness toward God, but as I have come to know the Father’s heart, I have come to realize that it is ok to be angry about it as long as my anger is placed correctly. God hates suffering, and that was never part of His plan for His children. My life was never meant to be filled with darkness, but rather I am called to be the light. I now live every day with joy and hope that constantly overflow. I am at peace.
So what on earth could the purpose be in prolonging physical healing? If I have received freedom in every other area of my life, wouldn’t it make sense to bring the physical healing now? I have the faith.
On Saturday I took part in a devotional time with our short-term team. My friend Brandon, who was leading the time, had us each write in a notebook a current problem or a struggle that we don’t understand. It took me a whole three seconds to write down, “Why I am sick.” In the flash of a moment, a word from God came to my heart: “It’s creating a greater work in you, and that work is not yet complete.” For some reason that brought me peace, even though a flood of emotions washed over me that resulted from years of being tired of fighting. Before long, Brandon asked those who had pain in their bodies to stand. One of my close friends and a short-termer came over to pray for me, and the strong answer, “Not yet” kept repeating in my heart. How do you tell two amazing people that are praying over you that God’s not healing right then? How do you settle with that answer in your heart?
As I sat down, a little dejected and confused, I heard God say to me, “This isn’t about you.” I looked over to my friend who was sitting next to me in a puddle of tears. Immediately 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 came to my mind, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” I took a quick inventory of my life. Has God ever left me hopeless and discouraged? Absolutely not. Has He ever not come to my rescue? Not even a viable question. He has 100% brought me comfort in many different ways and through many different people throughout my journey. He was right; this isn’t about me. It’s about what He wants to do through me. He said, “I am developing my character in you and placing my authority in you. You need to run the race. My purposes for you are much bigger than you could imagine right now.” So I reached out my hand to comfort my friend who was facing a battle that I knew nothing about. “May the God who has comforted me in all my troubles comfort you in your pain.”
As I have pressed in and pondered all this these past couple days, God has rained Scripture over me, both in my personal time with Him and through other people. Some of these verses that aren’t mentioned above are as follows:
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-17, Hebrews 12:1b-2
“I will give you all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me. Christ is not weak when He deals with you; He is powerful among you. Although He was crucified in weakness, He now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with Him and will have God’s power.” -2 Corinthians 13:3-4
This morning one of my closest friends felt impressed to send me this verse:
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. ‘For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.’ But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” –Hebrews 10:35-39
These days I am coming to understand some things about my journey. God asked me, “Looking back over all the pain and trying times, would you trade it in? Look at all you have become; how deeply you know Me; how much you have grown. Imagine how much more I desire to do in your life! You cannot even begin to fathom how I will use you to set others free. I am developing in you compassion, because one who has known pain can face it with mercy and authority. I am calling you to deeper and more passionate ministry.” I know that I must press in even more. I want the fullness of God’s Spirit within me. I want to be used in the strongest way possible for His Kingdom.
I am reminded of my calling, and more pieces of the puzzle are being put together. This is what it says in Isaiah 61:1-4:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.”
Freedom. Comfort. Joy. Praise. Restoration. That is the heart of Father God. We’re going to take back what the enemy has stolen. We are going to reclaim territory occupied by Satan for far too long. We are not afraid, for we are the redeemed. There is a world out there buried in pain and sin and despair. No longer. May the light shine bright and the fire burn hot. It’s in the blood of the One who’s worthy. All praise be to Him forever and ever! Amen.