Do You Want to Be Well?
“Do you want to be well?” The question pierced me. I pondered the past several years of my life, filled with exhaustion, pain, dizziness, and confusion; all the result of an accidental arsenic poisoning. Our family had inhaled the fumes of a series of fires containing pressure treated wood and other toxic garbage. I had become so ill that I couldn’t even remember my address when I was filling out paperwork at my doctor’s office. For months, I had swallowed 72 pills a day with gallons of water to detoxify my body.
I had diligently researched the long-term effects of arsenic poisoning, and one article had wedged itself into my mind. It played over and over in the shadows of my thoughts, influencing my every decision. An entire small community had somehow suffered arsenic poisoning. Eighty percent had developed multiple Cancer within eight to 10 years. A vast majority were terminal. Eight to 10 years? It seemed like such a long time when I first read the article, but it was now year number nine for me. Not just for me, but for my children, too.
I had already begun to develop multiple sores and cysts of various shapes and sizes throughout my body; some leading to biopsies, while others painfully ruptured. All had been benign … so far. The closer I came to the eight to 10-year mark, the more I became predisposed to drop my sword and surrender each time a new cyst or sore developed, or some part of my body malfunctioned. I felt like I was bracing for an inevitable crash. In my mind, doom was certain. It was not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.” I felt like I was living on borrowed time.
Then, one Tuesday morning, we were studying the gospel of John:
“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’
The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.” (John 5:2-8 NKJV)
I was struck by the man’s answer to Jesus’ question because I realized that I had been answering his question the same way for nine years. I had spent so much time dwelling on why I was sick, that I had simply been laying on my mat, waiting for impending doom.
I had a revelation that morning. Jesus wanted me to walk in the waiting; to pick up my mat and keep moving forward. He had already determined the number of my days. Each day was a gift, and I was wasting them sitting on my mat, by the pool of Bethesda.
It was time to pick up my mat and walk in faith with hope for the future. Now, I see lumps as nothing more than speed bumps. I will not live my life waiting to die. I will live my life “well.”
“Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:14-16 NKJV)
Do you want to be well?
What’s There to Gain from Loss?
By: Laura MacCorkle, crosswalk.org
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” – Job 1:20-21, NIV
In the next-to-last chapter of Dr. David Clarke’s The 6 Steps to Emotional Freedom: Breaking Through to the Life God Wants You to Live, a few sentences stand out in regard to our personal response to loss:
“You’re stuck if you have not genuinely changed as a person, in your relationships with others, and in your relationship with God. The whole point of loss is change. Each loss ought to move you ahead in these three areas… God wants you to experience positive change, and one of His main methods to promote change is loss.”
Whoa. When’s the last time any of us has looked at a loss in our lives as something good? As something meant for positive change? As something from which we can gain?
It’s so much easier to become bitter, to stay depressed, to go into denial or to lash out in anger at those closest to us.
When I think back about all the loss I’ve experienced in my lifetime, I don’t know if I can see resulting positive changes every time. Divorce, death, job lay-off, broken relationships, a church split… these are some of the losses that have impacted my life so far. Yes, some have grown me and strengthened my spiritual life. But others are still a painful work in progress.
In the Bible, Job has got to be the No. 1 poster child for loss. He had it all: great wealth, good health and multiple children. And then one by one, God allowed it all to be taken away.
There was great suffering. Job agonized and felt alone. He cursed the day of his birth. I can imagine him thinking, Please, God, I am so tired of hurting. I have nothing left. Why are you allowing this to happen to me? I don’t know how much longer I can be ‘strong,’ hold it together and act like everything is fine.
But despite losing nearly everything, Job never curses God (although he is honest about his feelings). He honors His Creator and is faithful. Job sees that God’s way is the right way. He repents. And then God blesses him, giving him TWICE what he had before.
God doesn’t explain to Job why he allowed the suffering. And Job is okay with that. In fact, he goes on to live another 140 years: “He saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years” (Job 42:16-17).
We see that Job’s loss didn’t cripple him. He didn’t shrivel up his spirit and choose the bitter route for the rest of his days. No, what happened to Job only strengthened his relationship with God and matured his spiritual understanding. And that is the ultimate gain.
Like Job, we are to be faithful to God even when we endure loss in our lives.
I was taught that courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the willingness to face your fear. Confidence doesn’t mean we don’t have self-doubt; it means we push forward, take action, and do what we need to until we no longer doubt.
Have you ever believed confidence is something we either have or don’t have? Just like some of us have curly hair, brown eyes, or a third nipple, some people seem to be born with confidence. But here’s the truth — confidence is not something we’re born with; it’s something we build.
Confidence is a skill that must be built up over time, and the only way to do that is by taking action.
You learn to ride a bike first on a tricycle, then with training wheels. Then we become so skilled at the training wheels that one falls off and we don’t even notice. Then we become brave, take off the training wheels, and go for it, wobbling down the road (and probably wiping out a few times along the way). Sometimes the process takes years, tears, and lots of skinned knees. But what results is confidence. You suck it up, take action, practice, manage your fear, and go for it, even if you wobble and wreck a few times.
It’s time to shed self-doubt and step confidently into your calling.
What does God want done that He is asking you to help Him with?
Is His heart broken because of the injustice of trafficking, and He put the dream in your heart to raise money to fight it? Does He want the second grade children in your town to have a loving teacher to develop them, and He nudged you to apply for the job? Does He want a local business to thrive so the owners can continue doing good in the community, and He wants you to pitch yourself as the new marketing person?
God called us all to do good works — not to earn our salvation, not to earn His love, not to prove we are worthy but because He loves us, saves us, and gives us new hearts to love others.
God delights in partnering with you for His purposes, and it’s time you believed that. You’re not an evil villain plotting to take over the world; you’re a woman of God partnering with Him to make the world right here and right now a better place.
When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom in the Gospels, He was also talking about the here and now, not just in Heaven. What does God want to do with you in His Kingdom here and now?
Whether you’re delivering comfort food to a grieving family, rocking a baby in the nursery, folding laundry and praying for a friend, growing a garden that feeds your family, or growing a non-profit that feeds the world, it all matters to God. And it is work that builds the Kingdom right here.
He wants me and you and all of us to get over our self-doubt and start living the lives He created us to live. And that starts with the small decisions we make every day.
When you want to say to yourself, “I can’t do this,” and self-doubt tries to sideline you, remember.
Remember who you are.
Remember where your strength comes from. Remember that you are a wonder, woman. Remember, you are called to stand strong. So start standing.
I Want You to Remember
When we bring God into any battle, we win.
When you bring God into the little things and let His Spirit help you push past self-doubt, you honor the calling He has on your life.
As women of God, we can stand strong for one reason: God. Our wisdom, help, purpose, and gifts are all because of God.
Confidence is a skill that must be built up over time, and the only way we do that is by taking action.
Getting over self-doubt and living the lives God created us to live starts with the small decisions we make every day.
- What specific self-doubts arise when you start to step into what God has called you to do?
- Do your current self-doubts overshadow what you know to be true?
- Do you believe confidence is a trait you either have or don’t have, or do you believe it is a skill that can be built over time?
Prayer: Confidence is a skill that has to be built up over time, and the only way we do it is by taking action. The first step is to decide to think differently about who God is and who you are. Worship is a great way to renew your mind. Throw on your favorite worship album, and spend time praising God for who He is. Think about His attributes (for example, faithful, loving, strong, kind). Allow who God is to overshadow any self-doubt.
Journal: If you had a magic wand and life could look exactly like you want it to in twelve months, what would it look like? Write it down. Then ask, “God, what do you want me to do?”
Practice: We make split-second decisions to step away from fear and self-doubt and step into our goals, our dreams, and our future — or not. Develop your own “five-second mantra” to override your bossy brain.