Friday, April 15, 2011

How faith works -- not ignorant of his devices

I saw this posted on my friend's FB status and I reposted it. 


 YOU DON'T LOOK SICK! No, I don't. It's hard to explain to someone when they have no clue. It's a daily struggle feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least 1 hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (M.E., anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn's, M.S., diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy, Sjögren's, etc.)


It falls in very nicely with something that happened a coupla days ago:


First a little spiritual basics:
We Christians know that Faith works by love, joy, hope, peace, imagination, the Word of God, and by silence. See the verses below, but the basics of what's needed for faith is:


One must be in a state of love -- especially when it concerns forgiveness-- if one's faith is to really work in an impossible situation. Faith can work without love but rarely.


One must rejoice always.-- especially in singing songs of praise, because praise is a sword, especially when praising the victory of Jesus.


One must have the ability to endure  because faith is like a sown seed that has to grow and one must wait in joyful expectation  until one sees the blade, the blossom, the full fruit.


One also needs inner peace for faith to work. The seed the sower sowed could not grow because worries choked it. For some reason, the word of God, the seed of promises need to abide in a heart that is totally resting in God..or it will not work well.


One needs an imagination that is not vain, one that ponders the promised end and the thing one hopes for. The essence of true hope is a positive imagination that believes one has already received from God what one wants, that one is just waiting for it to manifest from the spiritual realm into the physical world.


One needs to read the Bible with a faithful heart and to speak with hopeful faithful victorious Christians


And last but not least, one needs to be silent about speaking the pathological truth of a serious situation. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. The wise woman with the sick son affirmed only "it is well" or she kept silent. The angel Gabriel had to shut Zechariah's mouth because Zechariah was going to be speaking words of doubt all throughout Elizabeth's pregnancy and God works with man...no matter what God wanted..if humans are gonna speak against it then it causes challenges. True Gods word is imperishable seed but sometimes our mouths can cause things to take forever...or to not grow at all.

There! Our foundation laid, I can whine about what happened with this very annoying friend of mine a coupla nights ago.


Okay, I know the devices of the devil. In my case, as I try to water the seed of healing for my son and me, I've had three major struggles whenever I try not to say anything negative or affirm the doctor's report or the pathological truth. I slip up and slip into the doctor's report instead of God's report. 


Struggle One, Two, Three:
Most often when a very compassionate person asks how I am or when some very cold person challenges me about how sick I really am. I also slip up sometimes out of fear or what I call the "unnecessary assessing" comment. where one wakes up and says, "I feel so crappy today." You see... not necessary at all, but it's the kind of thing that slips out of the mouth when one is overwhelmed with illness and frustration. This is part of the devil's devices. 


So here I am with God telling me to actually imagine what life would be like if our family if my son and I were well. My imagination is so full of the past that it's hard to imagine anything bright...which is hard when one is trying to see a miracle. So my cynical social worker friend whom I have not seen or spoken to in months because I've been too sleepless and weak to go out of the house asks me me how I've been doing. 


The proper Christian response to this is to say, "It's been interesting but God is working on me." Something non-whiny like that. Something that affirms my belief in God working, something that doesn't create a flow of desperation from my mouth. But nooooooooooo! She starts asking me how I'm really doing. And I actually fall into the demonic snare and try to convince her. This leads to me affirming the pathological truth. And instead of accepting my comments, she says, "Well, at least you have hope. There are people who came from their doctors today with no hope." 


Okay, true enough. But you know... when I've had no more than an hour sleep for about 15 days straight...or when I haven't had any sleep for 9 days straight and my body is shaking and trembling and I'm taking care of a little 21 year old who has been in pain all his life and whose life I worry about all the time and who cannot speak... well..... I am in no patience for this bit of ridiculous dismissive piety.


So, this woman doesn't realize her temptation to nag at me (to prove my great pain and the depth of my pain) comes from the devil. 


But I know. And I really should've just stopped it there. But nooooooooooooooo! I FALL for the bait. I am snared by my tongue, by her tongue, by the devil's trick. So I try to explain to her to make her see that my pain is valid. But nooooooooooooo.  She is in social worker holier-than-thou platitude mode and there is something in her that wants to prove me wrong. And this makes me affirm the illness more. All hope, affirmation, imagination of good, joyous, hopeful, healthy...goes out the window as I try to paint a convincing picture of my sorrows for this woman. Aaargh!


I'm watching this situation, fuming and telling myself why am I affirming my illness to someone who is not showing one ounce of comfort and who is equating comfort with telling me that others suffer more. And she did it so quickly and so readily. I was asking myself, "Wow, I am in so much pain now. I am worried sick for my son. I fear for our deaths every day and I am sitting with someone who doesn't know the amount of near-death moments I've had and rushes to hospitals we've had and temptations to suicide I've had...and this woman is feeling she has to insist that I am not suffering." Because she's spiritual like that.


So, again I was snared. I said to her, "Do you realize that 24 years of sleeplessness and taking care of a 21 year old sickly kid all this this is a slow death?" Her response: "Well you have hope. Some people have no hope."  As if I and my son have any hope outside of God? 


Ah, this k ind of dismissive comforting was spoken by Job's friends. And even now when Christians read Job, they get all caught up with theological questions...when they don't even attend to the basic issue of Job is this: "shut your mouth when you see someone suffering. Don't think you're the voice of truth. Don't be cruelly dismissive. Don't judge. You don't know someone else's life. You don't know God's working in someone else's life. You don't know Satan's working in this person's life."


I didn't want to fall into judgment. The Bible tells us that we must not judge lest we are judged. I didn't want to say, "Well, I am suffering more than this person you're thinking off who just got no hope." But I did say, "you're getting into comparative mode." So, the worst I can get myself into (please God please) is to be in a situation where someone thinks I'm in comparative mode when I'm not. But my friend might have just brought judgment on her own head. It is possible that by judging me she has set in motion a judgment in which she will be sleepless and taking care of a sick child for 21 years...and then she will have to see and endure what she so easily dismissed. 


May God have mercy on her soul. And may God help me not to be snared into affirming the pathological...no matter how cruel or dismissive or comforting the temptation. 

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'" Luke 11:4

Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his] conversation [aright] will I shew the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phillipians 4:6


Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Phillipians 2:12


And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:4

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:10

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion [is] vain. James 1:26

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. Proverbs 14:10

The lips of a fool intermeddle with strife: and his mouth provoketh quarrels. Proverbs 18:6


There is also endurance, not as opposed to faith...but not exactly faith. Job was not listed in the faith chapter (Hebrews 11.) He is called patient. 

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11 

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Why was Endurance so important? Because He endured because he trusted and loved God as a Creator, and as a Father. He didn't have much to have faith in. The book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible. Job had no spiritual book to read. All he had was his love of God, his trust in God, his hope in God.

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