How Healed Do You Want to Be? Class
Refuge CC – January 2023
Week One: What is Healing?
Week Two: REMOVAL of That Which Injures
Week Three: REPAIR of Life’s Wounds
Week Four: RESTORATION of What Has Been Lost
Week Five: REDEMPTION of Our Pains, Sorrows, and Injuries
Week Six: REVELATION of God in Our Deepest Wounds
Week Seven: Five Step Healing Model
· Week One: What is Healing?
Theme Text: John 5 – Man at Pool of Bethsaida – “Do you want to be healed (whole)?” “How healed (whole) do you want to be?”
Who Needs Healing? Everyone!
· Start Where You Are
We begin our healing journey broken and unable to heal ourselves. Our deepest need is not for healing (per se), but for The Healer – God Himself! Healing flows from our relationship with Him, His love, and His grace.
Our “Bent” Condition (CS Lewis)
We begin our healing journey:
· Detached – “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12)
(Healing Happens When Reconciled to God – II Cor. 5:17)
· Fragmented – one way here and another way there (trying to manage the secrets I keep -- even from myself)
(Healing Happens with Confession – James 5:16)
· Ruled by my “Shadow” – the Shadow is made up of all the things I won’t own, including my unactualized gifts, sins, addictions, impulses, etc.
(Healing Happens in The Light – I John 1:9)
· Prideful – Thinking that all will be well once everyone and everything conforms to my agenda and expectations. (Healing Happens in Surrender to God – Romans 12:1,2)
· Self-righteous – Committed to gaining spiritual status by my own efforts at godliness - “God is good. You’re Not. Try Harder”
(Healing Happens by Trusting Christ Alone – Titus 3:4-6)
· Negative and Self-Hating – my “observing self” is a critical, harsh, and self-punishing “coach” – Isaiah 53:5,6
(Healing Happens by Internalizing God’s Love – I John 4:18, 19)
Biblical Images of “Healthy”
· Integration (integrity) vs fragmentation – everything “talks to” everything else – “whole” (Matt. 15:31, Acts 4:10)
· Prosperity of soul – 3 John 2
· Fruitfulness – John 15, Psalm 128
· Maturity – Becoming all the “you” God made you to be – Eph. 4:14,15
Dictionary Definition of Healthy –
“Not displaying clinical signs of disease or infection”
“Showing physical, mental, or emotional well-being”
· Thinking of Healing as Layers or Levels
Top Layer = The Symptomatic Level – most obvious (I look better, function better, show improvement)
Levels Below That = The Psychological, Relational, Spiritual, and Emotional Levels (I think more clearly, feel more stable, relate better with others, am growing in faith, am gaining wisdom, sharing good things with others)
· Recognizing a Level or Layer of Healing –
“I am being healed to this level, or in these ways”. Celebrate! Rest! Rejoice! (as the Holy Spirit asks: “Do you want to keep going? I have more!”)
· The Lord’s Desire to Heal
The presence of the Lord in our life lifts us higher and elevates our potential to experience healing: “I am the Lord who heals you” – Yahweh Rapha (Exodus 15:26).
The New Testament asserts that: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and… He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38).
Walking with the Lord tends to increase a person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. In the language of missiology – “Redemption and Lift” -- “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John v.2).
· What About Suffering?
The Healing Journey does not exclude suffering. God does not promise to eliminate all suffering in this life (“In the world you will have tribulation” – John 16:33). He DOES promise to be present with us in the fire.
To have a good theology of healing, you must have a good theology of suffering. To have a good theology of suffering, you must have a good theology of healing. Suffering and healing are bookends. Take away one, and all the books fall over.
1. What is one way I have experienced healing grace? What would “more” look like?
2. What do I want to do for me most, at this time, in bringing deeper healing to my life (be as specific as possible)?
3. What is one way I feel God can use me, or is currently using me, to bring healing to others?
Week Two: Removal of That Which Injures
Text: Luke 13:10-17 – Release of the oppressed woman on the Sabbath
Story: Don the Alcoholic
We Seek Relief from Toxic and Injurious…
Practices / Habits / Addictions Behaviors
Memories / Traumas
Demonic Oppressions / Infestations
These and other toxins are like rocks in our backpack. They may not kill us, but they make life infinitely more difficult -- so that we live as “the walking wounded”. Once these toxic elements begin to be removed, freedom and vitality are able to take hold. Some of these elements can be removed rapidly, miraculously! Others take time and considerable effort. Either way, the Lord is bringing about these changes. If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed! Thanks to Him, we no longer live as the walking wounded but as wounded healers.
#1. Healing happens when that which is toxic or injurious is removed or addressed.
This is, in fact, the beginning of any healing process.
What is meant by “toxic”:
Dictionary: “extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful”
Examples: a workplace, person, home environment, mindset, demonic oppression, religious community (e.g. cult), behavior, addiction, or other factor that actively works against your well-being is toxic.
Some toxic factors are on the outside (environmental, physiological, interpersonal). Some are within (sin, bondage, addiction, negativity, mental illness, etc). Removal is Job One in the healing journey (The Exodus = the biblical meta-narrative of detoxification and deliverance).
How did these toxic factors become part of our lives?
Some go with the human condition (Romans 5:12 and following)
“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18,19)
We are all born “bent”. This has big implications when it comes to toxicity in our lives.
Some are due to our being sinned against - Abuse (of all kinds), racism, bullying, oppression, etc
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31, 32)
Some we invited into our lives - Addictions, negativity, hatred, hurtful relationships, demonic oppression, unforgiveness, etc
“For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation”. (I Thessalonians 5:7, 8)
Some are from our environment. - Work or home environment, society/culture, medical hazards, etc
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20: 2)
Bottom line = Every one of us has to deal with our own toxicity, the toxicity of others, and the toxic nature of our human environment and the human condition.
Freedom From Toxicity and Oppression
The Lord will take us on a healing journey away from the toxic and deeper into health, life, freedom, prosperity (in the best sense of the word) and thriving as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit (redemption and lift).
“Worship the Lord your God, and His blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span” (Exodus 23:25, 26).
“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”. (I Corinthians 6:11)
“(And) the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23)
Trend Lines (well-being/wholeness increasing, toxicity decreasing)
* Toxins and Wounds from the Past - Inherited (family line toxins) = “repetition compulsion”, oppression
- Afflictions (imposed toxins) = ill health, self-hatred, negativity
- Regrets (self-imposed toxins) = Hiding, fragmenting, shame
- Traumas (overwhelming experiences) = PTSD
“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. (Ephesians 2:6-10)
A Special Word Concerning Regrets :
1. You can spend THOUSANDS of hours on your regrets and the net profit to you will be… ZERO. Pure regret is useless and ineffective.
2. REGRET plus REFLECTION allows us to learn the lessons embedded in our regrets
3. REGRET plus REFLECTION plus REPENTANCE = we learn from our regrets and apply the lessons to our life going forward by instituting changes inspired by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word
2 Chronicles 33:1-16 – Manasseh – an evil king advances corruption in the land until, in his time of distress, he cries out to God (clearly, he comes to regret the mess his sins and errors have landed him and his people in). God mercifully grants him the opportunity to successfully learn from his errors and repent so that he successfully turns things around.
How Can We Process the Toxic?
1. Get as safe as you can. People who do their best to limit the presence of toxins in their life will make better decisions.
2. Take your wounds to the Lord. Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”
3. Receive the grace available through the healing gifts of others: Healing prayer, counseling / therapy, recovery, and so on.
4. Ruthlessly forgive yourself and others (be as specific as possible). Reconcile what you can.
(My 7 minute video presentation will, hopefully, help you forgive others and even yourself – My Youtube channel: “The Forgiveness Exercise”).
5. Refuse the juicy temptation of a victim identity.
You have more power than you are using, even if you have been victimized. There is a difference between experiencing victimhood and adopting a victim identity.
6. Name the lessons you have learned. Be specific.
7. Apply your lessons to your “now”. What are you changing as a result of your reflections?
The Three-Legged Stool of Honor
1. Honor the Lord
2. Honor yourself
3. Honor others
Making certain that we are honoring God and our self as well as others will help us limit our exposure to toxicity, especially when it is present in the people we must interact with (i.e. boss, parent, family member, etc)
1. What is a toxic element (person, environment, experience, trauma etc) that is currently being removed from your life? How are you changing as a result?
2. What is your biggest regret? Is it still affecting your life today? Why?
3. Check in with the “three legged stool” in your life. Which of the three is most in need of your attention in order for you to feel more balanced, stable, and whole?
Week Three: Repair of Life’s Wounds
Text: Haggai 2:3-5
Story: “Janice’s” Story = Repair From DID
The repair of damage that has been done to us is the most common notion of healing. It is healing at the symptomatic level. Repair is important in itself; AND it opens the door to deeper healing!
# 1. Healing Happens When the Toxins Are Removed
# 2: Healing Happens When the Damage is Repaired
Who needs repair?
· Every one of us!
All of us have sustained injury, damage, reversal, or other negative impact on our well-being and these wounds of body, soul, and spirit await our efforts to repair them.
· What do we mean by the word “Repair”? What does that term describe?
- to restore by replacing a part, putting what is torn or broken back together.
- to restore to a sound or healthy state – (we will look at Restoration as a separate discussion in the next session)
- to make good or compensate for
So, where oh where do you need repair? What is torn or broken in your life? What wounds do you need to address? What damage have you sustained that awaits treatment and repair?
Our God is the God who heals, restores, and repairs!
A Biblical Meta-narrative of Repair: The Restoration of the Temple and Walls of Jerusalem (Books of Ezra and Nehemiah)
The Story –
In the story of the restoration of the Temple and the walls and city gates of Jerusalem following Israel’s captivity in Babylon, the Lord gives us a vivid picture of His blessing on efforts to repair what is broken, shattered, and undone in our lives.
As described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the repair of Jerusalem and the Temple of the Lord there is a two-fold process.
1. Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judah, leads the effort to bring the Temple back from it’s broken and inactive state
2. Nehemiah, Hebrew cup-bearer to King Cyrus, is sent with the King’s blessing to effect the rebuilding and repair of the city walls and gates.
This is a fantastic picture of how God works to repair our lives:
· Just as the ancient temple was repaired and revitalized, God restores our deepest connection to Him – our spiritual center – through our being born again of the Spirit!
· And just as Nehemiah repairs the walls and gates protecting the ancient city, so the Holy Spirit repairs and restores the walls of our personhood via His work of sanctification, healing, and spiritual maturity.
(Isn’t it interesting that Nehemiah’s name means “God Comforts” and that Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as: The Comforter).
So, we have:
Worship center – our repaired relationship with God – “You He made alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins…” (Eph. 2:1)
Walls – the rebuilding of our dignity, boundaries, and protection – “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude verses 20,21).
Gates – The points of our relationship and interaction with others. Gates allow people in and out. Many of us need our gates to be repaired by honoring ourselves as the Beloved of the Lord, following His lead: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (I John 3:1)
n Three-Legged Stool!
How is Our Brokenness Repaired?
All repair is the result of grace.
Two Kinds of Grace –
General Grace: Matthew 5:45 – “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous”.
The grace God supplies by His open hand to all creation, whether they even acknowledge him or not – the grace of medical science, healing relationships, friendships, provision, education, healing environments, and so on
Specific Grace - Miracles: Psalm 77:14 – “You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples”.
MIRACLES COME IN THREE SIZES: Small, Medium, Large
Miracles are God’s direct and supernatural intervention in the repair process. Some miracles are rapid, even instantaneous, while others take place over time. The following New Testament texts portray miracles of repair: Matthew 9:1-8 (Paralysis); Matthew 12:22 (recovery of sight and voice after a demon is expelled); Matthew 9:27 (recovery of sight); Luke 5:12-19 (Leprosy reversed); Matthew 9:20-22 (continuous feminine bleeding); Luke 14:1-6 (dropsy, i.e. swollen tissue); Luke 6:6-11 (withered hand); Acts 14:10 (crippled man restored via Paul); Acts 3:6-9 (crippled man via Peter and John)
* * * Robin’s Story * * *
Repaired People Repair People
As God works in our life, repairing the damage and addressing our wounds, we can share His healing grace with others, as suggested in this text from Isaiah 58 -
“Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in” (Isaiah 58:12)
The Key = Never Give Up! Keep seeking the repairs you need. Let’s see what God will do!
1. Can you describe a miracle you have received from God – whether instantaneous, or over time? Would you classify this miracle as small, medium, or large?
2. What is the area in which you feel the most need of repair, at this time? How are you exposing this area to grace (general or specific)?
3. Have you given up? Why, or why not? How can you re-engage your healing journey at this time?
Week Four: Restoration of That Which Has Been Lost
Theme Text: Psalm 126
Video: CBN – Watch and Pray – Robin Faris Auto Accident Story
Story: Robin’s Story
God’s promise to bring about restoration is one of the grandest and most sweeping themes in the Bible. Promises and visions of restoration are found throughout the Old and New Testaments.
ALL RESTORATION EXPERIENCES ARE BUT A FORETASTE OF THE SUPER-RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS HE HAS PROMISED:
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me: Write, for these words are true and faithful”.
(Rev. 21:5 KJV)
· Who is the one who restores? God (the One seated upon the throne).
· What will He “make new”? All things.
· Can we count on this? “These words are true and faithful”
Scripture portrays God as the Great Restorer, the active force behind past restoration, present restoration, and the Ultimate Super-Restoration to come!
- All present experiences of restoration are hints or foretastes of the Ultimate Super-Restoration at the End of the Age.
- Already, and not yet.
The Biblical notion of restoration acknowledges the losses, reversals, sufferings, and degradations of physical, moral, and spiritual realities. This is the natural state of things since The Fall = decline and degradation.
However, God is actively involved in bringing about restoration and will do so until the Ultimate Super-Restoration “makes all things new” again!
Foretastes of Restoration:
· The Hebrew People returning from captivity in Babylon and the rebuilding of the Temple.
· Virtually all the prophets foresee an Ultimate Super-Restoration to come under the Messiah – “the Day of the Lord”.
“This is what the Lord says:
“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
“They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.
They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.
I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.
See, they will come from afar—
some from the north, some from the west,
some from the region of Aswan.[a]”
Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
What Restoration is NOT:
The goal of Restoration is NOT to go backwards to a replica of an earlier season.
What Restoration IS:
God’s restoring work inaugurates a new chapter, a new season, and a new era which draws from the best of the past and brings key elements of well-being forward in new and vital ways.
There is suffering in this life. However, God assures us that Restoration will get the last word over suffering:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(I Peter 5:8-11)
· A Vivid Picture of Restoration: Kintsugi – Brokenness Touched with Gold
(See my video: The Gospel According to Kintsugi).
One of the most vivid illustrations of restoration I have come across is the Japanese art of pottery and ceramic restoration known as Kintsugi.
In this art, a broken ceramic is restored and put back together by a master artisan. It is a two-step process:
1. The broken piece is reassembled using a special epoxy derived from the sap of a tree that must die in order to provide it
2. After a period during which the epoxy sets up, the artisan finishes the piece by covering the cracks in the piece with gold veining.
The art of Kintsugi acknowledges that brokenness is a part of the story of that piece of pottery. It’s repair bears testimony to its value and shows that it has been touched by the skilled hands of a master.
In light of the Ultimate Super-Restoration to come, we are encouraged to seek restoration in the present as we walk with God.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's”. (Psalm 103:1-5)
The companion of restoration is hope…
“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again”.
1. Identify one area of your life that stands in need of restoration. What will be different about it following God’s Ultimate Super-Restoration of all things?
2. How can you actively invite renewal and restoration into broken areas of your life and your world today? What activities can you engage? What hope can you find? What relationships will help? What delivery systems of grace can you tap into?
3. What are you hoping for these days? What do these hopes have to do with restoration (if anything)?
Week Five: Redemption of Our Pains, Sorrows, and Injuries
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”. (Romans 5:3-5).
Story and Video: Nightbirde on America’s Got Talent.
Jane Marczeski was 31 when she auditioned for a spot on America’s Got Talent. The singer-songwriter from Ohio was prepared to share an original song called It’s Okay”.
“How are you?” asked Harvey Mandel, one of the four judges. “I’m awesome, so happy to be here” she replied.
But she wasn’t “awesome”. She was, to put it bluntly, dying from metastatic cancer with only a 2% chance of survival.
You’d never know this stunning fact from her smile, her clear, bright eyes, and her general radiance. What the judges and the worldwide television audience was seeing was Jane at her finest. But she also knew many moments of indescribable suffering. There is no doubt that the spiritual resilience and wisdom she displayed in her AGT moment was refined in the intense heat of her pain, agony, and suffering.
When she was at last given the opportunity to share her audition song, a split second of silence followed the last note. Then, the audience exploded into a vigorous ovation, joined by the judges who all stood to their feet as well.
I believe that what happened next was a true Holy Spirit-inspired prophetic display of valor and redemption (Jane was a committed Christian). It is notable that nothing about her interactions with the judges was fawning or “pick me!”. There was not a hint of vanity or posturing. Instead a brief, but profound, interaction ensued as the judges reflected on what they had just experienced.
During an uncharacteristic moment in which judge Simon Cowell was at a loss for words, Jane slipped in a gem that has come to represent her shining faith and hope of redemption: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy”, she calmly said.
Simon was visibly stunned as he reached up to wipe a tear from his eye. He followed with a sly, “I’m not going to give you a ‘yes’” After a second had passed, he continued: “I’m going to give you something else” and reached to push the coveted Golden Buzzer which moved Jane instantly into the finals of the competition.
Sadly, she was not able to perform again as she was too weak to continue. She passed away, having delivered her gift, almost exactly one year ago in February of 2022. Her audition video has had literally tens of millions of views and was in the top ten most viewed videos of 2021.
What is redemption?
Jane’s story reminds us of some key characteristics of redemption that I would like to note right away.
Redemption is defiance! Redemption is stubbornness. Redemption refuses to let our reversals, injuries, and losses get the last word over us.
As we offer up all we have to God, including our suffering, reversals, losses, and imperfections, He finishes our healing story with a stroke of redeeming love.
Redemption, among other things, is an act of spiritual warfare in which we say to the devil: “you lose”. Redemption lifts the head of our sorrows, turns the tide of our losses, and finishes the song of our life in a major chord of victory.
Redemption says: “If I have won any ground, I have won it through suffering, hardship, pain, and loss. With God’s help, I will now make this sacred ground available for Him to raise up a hospital of hope, a school of wisdom, and a house of worship where people can find grace to help in their time of need”.
- “Redeem” can refer to buying back something that has been lost or sold
- Redemption speaks to themes of recovery and rescue -- a turnabout
- Redemption asserts that God will get the last word over our sins, mistakes, sufferings, reversals, and life challenges by turning our messes into messages
Without redemption, our suffering and losses threaten to define us, have the last word over us, turn us sour, makes us sick, or lay us out. However, God is the one who redeems or buys back suffering – often turning it into a wellspring of faith, hope, and love.
How Do We Partner with God in His Redeeming Work?
1. We offer up our suffering to Him as an act of worship and a cry for grace.
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalm 61:1-3).
2. We treat our suffering as temporary, knowing that God has promised to ultimately overcome our pain and losses with unspeakable glory.
“For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness!” (2 Cor. 4:17, amp)
3. We take our suffering out of the devil’s hands by insisting “you won’t win, and you can’t stop me” and put it, instead, into God’s hands as a witness to His glory, in any way it can be.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people”. (Gen. 50:20, NLT)
4. Redemption offers us the opportunity to become valiant, which is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as follows: “Very brave or bravely determined, especially when things are difficult or the situation gives no cause for hope”
“And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched.” (I Sam. 10:26)
5. We surrender to God’s will, whatever that may be.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
In her blog, Nightbirde relates the story of the road trip of the West Coast she shared along with her brother. Stopping along the rugged Northern California coast, she watched in wonder as wave after wave smashed into the rocks and exploded into a glorious and glittering rainbow of color and light. She later wrote: “If I must break, maybe I can break like the waves. And if I am shattering, maybe it’s into ten billion gleaming pieces, only for a second. And soon I’ll fall back into one whole. Maybe the breaking means I’m finally reaching home”.
The Meta-Narrative of Redemption
The biblical meta-narrative of Redemption – the Big Story – is, of course, the story of the Savior and Messiah, Jesus. Born in weakness and obscurity, He rose to bring the message of redemption to God’s people. He boldly asserted that His being rejected would not define Him. His death would not finish His story. He would rise. He would overcome. He would turn His suffering into the Road to Redemption and invite us to join Him on it:
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it”. (Luke 9:22-25)
Jesus was valiant then; He is valiant now. He was an Overcomer then; He is an Overcomer now. He was the Redeemer then; He is the Redeemer now. And, as we join Him in our own journey of healing and salvation, He becomes the Hero of Our Story – raising us up, together with Him, “in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages, He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus”. (Eph 2:6,7)
1. Who is one of the most valiant people you have ever seen or known? What is it about them that makes you think of them in this way?
2. Do you believe “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him…” as Paul asserts? How does doing so change your experiences of suffering, loss, or pain?
3. How can you let Jesus be the hero of your story? What doors have your struggles opened to tell your redemption story?
Week Six: Revelation of God in Our Wounds
Theme Text: Psalm 139:7-12
"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Story: Immaculée Ilibagiza
The Fifth “R” – Rare but Real
The fifth “R” of Healing is, I believe, the greatest and rarest expression of healing available to us in this lifetime. I call it: “Revelation”. Revelation describes the truth that God is wholly present in our suffering and that suffering may even deepen our personal experience of Him. Indeed, we might even come to thank the Lord for our deepest sufferings, losses, and trials IF it is how we have most powerfully came to know Him.
Augustine captures the essence of this idea in his testimony: “In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me”.
God Revealed in the Fire
It seems that, in this lifetime, every one of us will go through fiery trials of some kind. They may be trials of physical decline or pain, anguish of heart and soul, profound personal losses, or stunning reversals of fortune. The Bible speaks to this again and again in both the Old and New Testament. As believers, we may found ourselves asking the question made famous by author Philip Yancy over thirty years ago: “Where is God When it Hurts?”
Yes, where IS God when it hurts? The Bible tells us He is present – with us in ways we may or may not be aware. As He said through the prophet Isaiah:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2,3)
We are given a vivid picture of this in Daniel where we read of the three Hebrews who were cast into the furnace. However, the furnace not only failed to destroy them, but its heat and flames revealed another mysterious presence who shared their trial with them:
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 8:24, 25)
Consolation and Desolation
The truth that God is present in our suffering does not erase the reality that suffering and loss can take us to our limits. When submerged in our pain, we may despair – feeling that God has abandoned us or is indifferent and distant. Our experience of God’s comforting and renewing presence (or lack of it, as far as what we feel) have been characterized as the inward states of either Consolation or Desolation (* see footnote at end).
One description of “consolation” reads: “(consolation is) when some interior movement in the soul is caused, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord.”
Desolation is the opposite state, wherein the believer feels inwardly distressed: “without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord.”
Note: Consolation and Desolation are not descriptions of our actual RELATIONSHIP with God. As believers, our relationship with the Lord is secure and unchanging -- having been ensured by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Rather, the experiences of Consolation and Desolation refer to our sense of FELLOWSHIP with God. We all recognize that our inward sense of fellowship with the Lord is dynamic – at times overflowing with richness and warmth (Consolation) while at other times we feel distant, idle, and flat (Desolation).
Do Bad Times Predict a Loss of Faith?
It would be tempting to predict that bad times and suffering will automatically lead to a loss of faith and a desperate state of soul. But the evidence does not support this.
In fact, some speak of such times as portals or gateways which opened them to the most profound presence of God they have ever known. Why is this? Because, sometimes, desperation causes us to reach deep – far more deeply than comfort and convenience will lead us to do. And, when we reach deep, we will find two things: unprecedented desolation and unprecedented consolation.
Our seasons of consolation and desolation will come and go. Our circumstances will rise and fall. Life will be sweet and sour. But there is no place God is not. He is the still point at the center of your spinning life and He invites us to find Him there: “I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
Different Kinds of Suffering, Different Kinds of Encounter
1. Personal suffering (I am suffering pain, loss, etc due to circumstances beyond my control)
2. Community suffering (a people group, city, etc undergoing suffering)
3. Empathetic suffering (someone we love or care for is suffering and we feel it within)
4. Testimonial Suffering (suffering due to taking a stand of faith, etc such as when persecution brings suffering)
5. Consequential suffering (suffering as a result of our own decisions)
6. Mysterious suffering (suffering that seems “random” and inexplicable)
God can be revealed in any of these.
How to Move Toward the Healing Power of Revelation
1. Turn your pain into prayers.
(Psalms of Lament5 include Psalm 86, Psalm 22, Psalm 44)
2. Learn from others who have found God’s dazzling presence in their (Imaculee Ilibigaza, Bethany Hamilton, Corrie ten Boom, Horatio Spafford, Joni Eareckson Tada)
3. Ask the Lord for the spiritual eyes that can see Jesus in the now of your life.
(Road to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-35; Mary confusing the Risen Christ with the gardener: John 20:14, 15)
Meta-Narrative of Revelation – The Book of Revelation and the Glorified Christ
Chapter One – Revelation 1:9-18 The Glorified Christ comes to John while in exile, persecuted
Chapter Four – Revelation 5:6-8 The Glorified Christ appears with His wounds
Chapter Nineteen – The Glorified Christ Comes as the Divine Warrior Revelation 19:11-15
Chapter Twenty-Two – The Lamb at the center of the New Jerusalem, “They will see His face and His name will be on their forehead” Revelation 22:1-5
1. How would you answer the question: “Where is God when it hurts?”
2. How can God and suffering occupy the same space in your life?
3. How would a revelation of the Lord’s presence change your experience of pain, loss, suffering, or reversal?
Week Seven: The Five Step Healing Model
Theme Text: Luke 10:8,9
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you”.
Story: I recently instructed a group of young people in using this model
Step 1: The Interview
Introduce yourself then ask where does it hurt or what would you like me to pray for?
• Natural level – what can you see?
• Supernatural – ask God for Words of Knowledge, discernment, visions, words;
• It’s not a medical interview- get the facts;
• Move to the next stage when ready.
Step 2: The Diagnosis
Why do they have this condition?
• Natural causes – disease, accident;
• Sin – committed by them or against them;
• Emotional hurts causing physical or other pain;
• Relationship problems – lack of forgiveness;
• Supernatural – may be demonic;
• Keep asking for God’s help;
• Ask them questions if appropriate.
Step 3: Prayer Selection
What kind of prayer shall I pray to help this person?
• Check if it is ok to lay hands on them;
• Ask the Holy Spirit to come and minister to the person;
• Ask for God to heal;
• Keep praying in the Spirit;
• Command of faith Acts 3:6;
• Pronouncement – of faith John 4:50;
• Demonic – rebuke (break their power) bind them (contain) expel (get rid).
Step 4: Prayer engagement
How are you doing?
• Keep your eyes open and watch for the effects – Phenomenological signs (warmth, tingling, shaking etc);
• Ask questions – find out what God is doing;
• Stop when – they think it’s over; the Spirit tells you it’s over; you’ve run out of things to pray;
• Remove your hands, talk to them to indicate you are stopping.
Step 5: Post prayer direction
What should they do to further their well-being?
• Check with their doctor if physical / medical
• Change unhealthy practices, sinful behaviors, toxic relationships
• Grow in their knowledge of God’s healing promises
• Seek out further follow up prayer, counseling, etc
• Thank the Lord for any changes / improvements going forward!