Chapter Three: Gaining a New Perspective, part I
“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous (Psalm 146:8, NAS).”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18, NAS).”
Definition of Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
Definition of Surrender: cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. Synonyms: forsake, deny, stand down, resign, disclaim, relinquish, forgo, cede, abandon, concede, yield, submit, relent, renounce, abdicate, transfer
Graham Cooke said, “Obstacles are a part of life. There is often no way to avoid them. However, there is a way to change our perspective so they can be used to our advantage.” Everything we do hinges on our perspective of what’s happening to us, for us, against us and around us. It is common knowledge that, with every action, there is a reaction. How we respond to things around us is always based on what we perceive is happening, be it good or bad.
For example, when my first husband left me with a note on the coffee table, I perceived it as the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. I was raised that Christians do not divorce, no matter what. Even though he had cheated, lied, mocked, neglected, shunned, and altogether broke our covenant vows in every conceivable way, I deemed his departure as a negative. I cried, and cried and cried and cried some more. I begged him to come home and be the man he was supposed to be. I willingly forgave him and was willing to put it all behind us.
When he did not comply, I began tail-spinning into a dark, sad, lonely, angry, desperate place for the better part of seven years, to which I refer as my “seven years of rebellion”. I slept with men not my husband, cussed like a sailor, I spoke harsh words to a long-time friend, and couldn’t stop pretending I was fine. Because I couldn’t see the grace of God causing him to leave, I couldn’t properly respond. My eyes were blinded and I blamed everyone except the culprit: me.
Yes, he did horrible, despicable things but, had I initially sought the face of God, I wouldn’t have married him. Looking back, the signs were evident. I simply refused to acknowledge them. If I could have perceived God’s voice prior to marriage, the marriage would not have happened; hence I would not have experienced undue pain and suffering. It is only when we seek God’s vision in each situation of life that we are able to see as He sees so as to respond according to the Spirit instead of according to the flesh.
Once I returned to and resigned my whole life to Christ in 2000, I began a new, fresh journey with Christ as I had never known or experienced. I began to see that, even though I had made a huge mess of my life due to poor decisions, God’s promise to “turn all things for good for those who love Him” was for me personally. Instead of trying in my own strength to “pick up the pieces,” I was fully able to leave all the pieces behind me and allow Christ to make a whole new me. The old pieces were not required and certainly me having to “pick up” anything of the old was not necessary.
Understanding this, my decisions, little by little, began to morph into something new, something altogether other-worldly. My discernment sharpened and continues to do so today. Every time I need to make a decision and I don’t readily know what to do, I rest in Christ and wait. I allow Him to show me what to do when the time comes.
In the worst circumstances, in the weakest places of life, before you do anything, ask God to grant you His vision, His perspective, and His will so as to go forward in His strength. A changed perspective will change the course of your life because it will change how you respond to everything. When you surrender your fleshly, natural, limited vision to the Holy One, you’ll be amazed at how darkness will be turned to light!
When All My Strength Has Failed
Alexys V. Wolf
Hebrews 11:1, 6: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Some of my all-time favorite Scriptures are found within the confines of Hebrews 11. When I first returned to the Lord nearly 18 years ago, I poured over these so as to learn how God views faith, what faith is at its core. All these years later, I am having my faith tested around every bend, one thing after another, after another. There are moments when it feels as though the roof above me is caving and the floor beneath me is sinking. But, I thank God I don’t function in feelings but in faith. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, feelings are not in sync with the Kingdom of Heaven.
Michael’s job has had threats of termination for at least a year, but that didn’t bother me, not once. Wednesday, he was terminated; that didn’t move me to fear. We found stachybotris black mold in our home two years ago and had to find money, even after insurance, so as to make the necessary alterations to a 1/3 of our home. No fear. Now we discover we still have mold in our home causing Sophia’s illnesses and insurance will not pay. No fear. Numerous issues have transpired over the last 6 or so years and I have been unwavering in my faith in our Mighty God. But, as I live and breathe, nothing has tested my faith more than having our child’s life in peril. I would venture to say that, for any parent worth their salt, whether there is imminent danger such as cancer or heart disease, or chronic illness that never seems to end, faith is always on the line in an inexplicable form.
I would go strongly, unshakable in my faith long stretches without a wince of fear but, in a moment of absolute frustration and sorrow watching my child suffer day in and day out, believe me, I had flickers of doubt. They never lasted long as I would quickly realign my mind, heart and spirit with Holy Spirit, but they would appear nonetheless. I love II Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” Spectacular! My God is always faithful. When I look at my beautiful teenage daughter, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness. She’s alive, whether sick or well. There’s hope. We are here on Planet Earth another day, there’s hope. God is alive and stronger than any danger we may face, there’s Hope.
Fortunately, my hope is not on man’s version of limited hope which is utterly fickle and fluctuates according to how I feel in any given moment. No, my hope is living; it is alive through Jesus the Christ. My faith is not in medicine, doctors, nurses, or anything made by hands of man. Though God may well move for a time through the aforementioned, God is the only healer and comforter. In Him I always rejoice! My faith is anchored in Christ alone, the One who created Sophia. Through it all, both mine and Michael’s faith have soared to places I didn’t know existed until we began this journey with a chronically ill child. Do not lose faith. God is faithful. He has never forsaken us and He has not forsaken you.
I Peter 1:3-9: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41, NAS).”
“And those being in the flesh are not able to please God (Romans 8:8, NAS).”
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV)
“My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Your word (Psalm 119:28, NAS).”
The fleshly nature of every human ever to walk the Earth is the same: it wants what it wants and it is weak in every way. One person may appear better than another, but rest assured, all flesh is unholy, unrighteous and is weak even when it appears the most powerful and strong. Galatians spells out the evidence of the flesh:
- sexual immorality
- fits of anger
- things of like nature
There isn’t a moral enough person on the planet that has not, at some point, operated in at least one of the evidences of the natural man. Because of the rampant weaknesses of the flesh, why would anyone assume they have the power to be strong enough to overcome temptations, weaknesses, or tribulations? Strength is not a part of the flesh, contrary to popular belief. We’re taught to be strong, be tough, as though the flesh can possibly (in and of itself) muster enough power to endure the pitfalls of this condemned, Satan-run world.
Sure, it can definitely have the appearance of strength; after all, it also has the appearance of life even though Jesus crucified the nature of the flesh of all mankind. The Bible tells us we have all been crucified into Christ’s death (all are dead in sin), but not all are resurrected in the life of Christ. The flesh is so weak that, in fact, the first people created in God’s image lived in utopia and still could not control the desires of wicked, weak flesh. There, Adam and Eve stood with power to subdue the entire Earth, but that wasn’t enough. The fleshly nature, at the first sight of temptation, longed for more and purposed to take what it desired even though death was their fate.
We should never be surprised at the ultimate frailty of our flesh because, at it’s core, it can’t be anything else. So, yes, we can have the outward façade of strength; just don’t be astounded when it suddenly crumbles under the pressures of this life. Christ is our only hope, our only strength, our only possible solace in time of trouble. Throughout this book, I have inserted several passages from my first book, What Was God Thinking? Why Adam had to Die, because the topic at hand is in direct correlation to dying to the flesh.
Chapter 2, When All My Strength has Failed
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (I John 4:1).”
One of many issues with having a chronically ill child is feeling bad about questioning their diagnosis and/or prognosis. I have questioned every single doctor at some point in time. Many people struggle with this because they feel as though, because the physician has the education, they can never be incorrect in their analysis. I say to you, “Always question everything!” No one is perfect and no doctor knows everything. I accept nothing at face value because the Word of God demands we test every spirit, bar none.
I am a firm believer in being proactive. Some of the confidently stated diagnoses in the world were 100% inaccurate. People across the globe have received death sentences and lived to tell the story of their miraculous recovery proving their doctor’s prognosis incorrect. God always has the final say. Do your research. Leave no table unturned. The person who takes the best care of a child is the one who loves them the most; more often than not, it’s their parents. We who are in Christ must place our faith in God, conduct spiritual warfare and do our homework. You are the one paying the doctor’s salary; hence, you have the right as well as the responsibility to ask pertinent questions.
Personally, I deem it irresponsible to blindly take a doctors word because that renders their word as gospel. If I had not questioned Sophia’s pediatrician, she’s be in a much worse situation today. I had to get her to the right people who would acknowledge what is seen as well as what I know as a mother. No one knows your child better than you because you live with and care for them day in and day out. No one else witnesses all you encounter daily. If a doctor attempts to intimidate you when you inquire, do not back down. Doctors who are worth their crust don’t mind questions and, in fact, welcome them.
Additionally, even if you recognize what the doctor is saying is accurate, speak the promises of God over them instead of the problem at hand. Just because the diagnosis may be right in the moment, God can turn it around. Speak life over your child and not death; speak wellness over them and not illness. For example, I can be in conversation with someone and respond to their questions, “Currently, Sophia has a condition of _____________.” But I will continue with confidently speaking, “But I know it isn’t forever. I know God has a perfect plan and purpose for her life and I fully expect it to manifest in the days to come. What Satan has devised for evil, God will turn for her good.” Now, I may not say those exact words, but you get my meaning. Always speak life, never death because words are potent, they are fiercely powerful. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Test the spirit from which you are speaking. If it’s negative, full of doubt, depression, or anything of the like, it is not of Holy Spirit.
In fact, I purpose, though I falter occasionally, never to vocalize how arduous this is lest I find myself drifting into depression, sorrow and self-pity. I cannot stress enough that our words matter. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you if you have surrendered your life to Christ. Allow your focus to be on God instead of the circumstances and your words will follow suit.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30, NAS).”
Definition of Yoke: a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.
Definition of Easy:
- not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort
- free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care
- providing or conducive to ease or comfort; comfortable
- fond of or given to ease; easygoing: an easy disposition.
- not harsh or strict; lenient: an easy master.
- not burdensome or oppressive: easy terms on a loan.
- not difficult to influence or overcome; compliant
In this life we are taught to fight and fight harder, to pray and pray harder, work and work harder. Life becomes exhausting drudgery in our feeble attempt to control, manipulate and fix everything we don’t like or that which is simply going haywire. The harder we try, the worse things often become because we needlessly wear out. We are enslaved by the heaviness of life.
If only we knew all that is required of those who are in Christ is to rest. Rest is the place of peace amid any storm, faith in the face of the impossible, quietude during chaos, joy in the midst of the unbearable, and to bask in the love of Christ when all other love has failed.
After all, how is working harder going to get God to usher into your life what He’s already finished? What is praying harder going to do to move Him? Why do we think more of us is required when less is actually the key? Praying once in confident faith God has already moved on your behalf is far more powerful than praying relentlessly expecting little to nothing to happen. Honestly, I don’t understand how one can productively “pray harder” as I hear so many folks say they do in crisis. I haven’t read anywhere in the Bible of that being a tool of God’s most faithful.
Praying without ceasing is not the same as praying harder which usually includes begging and pleading. We need to understand we are sons of God, heirs of His Kingdom, not paupers who beg for God’s leftovers and table scraps. He has ushered rest through Christ Jesus, not a call to more grueling laborious prayer and labor.
Christ never instructed us to work in the sense that we are to strive continuously to get from God that which we want and/or need. We are called to be at ease through unwavering faith in the Creator who is the lover of our souls. Stress, striving, and working with futility to please Him or get what we need are not the ways of God. Yes, we know that for those who “don’t work, don’t eat” but that’s the physical. Faith pleases God. Rest and peace are spiritual; they include knowing without doubting that God has already resolved whatever issue is at hand.
Yeshua need not “get to work” on your behalf as so many pray. All His work was completed before the foundation of the Earth, including Christ’s death and resurrection and our death and resurrection. There is nothing unresolved where God is concerned. We see this defined in Hebrews 4:3 which states with clarity, “For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, ‘As I swore in my anger, “They will never enter my rest!”’ And yet God’s works were accomplished from the foundation of the world.”
It is simply our position in Christ to rest during our prayers and fasting expecting the greatness and the fullness of God’s love to surface. The idea of “praying harder” is not something to which God has called His people. Rather, we are incited to pray in faith because His yoke is easy and the burden of following Him is light. Addressing life’s issues should be from the stance of, “Christ, You have completed this situation. Father, reveal to me how to pray so as to usher Your completed work. It’s already resolved, in Jesus’ name.” We pray from victory, not for it.
The depiction of “yoke” is that of enslavement for the oxen binding two together so as to accomplish their task; both work together exerting equal strength. Contrarily, God’s “yoke” is that of freedom. We become bound together with Christ so that our work is no longer required. Being so tethered, we allow Him to take us where He desires; He is the carrier and we are the passenger unlike the two oxen where both must work. Attached to Christ, yes we are enslaved to Him, but what He offers in such slavery grants freedom. It is His finished work alone that enacts our liberty and ease while bound. He has an easy yoke and a light burden.
It is the nature of the natural, fleshly man stemming from Adam that makes our yoke hard and our burdens heavy. Colossians 2:13 reads, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” The flesh, aka the nature of sinful Adam, is death though having the appearance of life. Once in Christ, attempting to operate in the nature in which we are originally born is likened unto carrying around a dead man’s body trying to make it function as though alive. Though we move our hands and feet, we’re trying with futility to puppeteer a very heavy, clunky, awkward corpse. When, on the other hand, we relent to the eternal life of the Savior, burdens are lifted and yokes are made easy.
Chapter 1, When All My Strength has Failed
One of the issues with having a chronically ill child is dealing with discouragement, theirs and ours. As parents, it is our responsibility and privilege to continuously encourage our children no matter how exhausted we are. We are not allowed to speak negatively as that helps no one. Certainly, we all have bad days, but we must focus on who God is, how God is, His promises and on “whatsoever is good” as instructed in Philippians 4:8. For me personally, I definitely have discouraging days; those where Sophia has had a few really good days and then, bam, she can’t get out of bed because of some infection that hit her from nowhere. With confidence, I know that, if you are a parent or guardian of a chronically ill child, you get discouraged. It is our reasonable responsibility to God, ourselves and our child to locate in our lives whatsoever is good, true, honorable, etc. Believe me, it’s present, we must simply try with a bit more effort than others to find it. We must get our eyes off our circumstances and place them where they belong – on Christ and His Kingdom and what God has to say about the matter.
If your child is still breathing, it’s a good day. If they can get out of bed, it’s a good day. If they can actually attend school, spend some time with a friend or someone with whom they can share some laughter, it’s a good day. We must each find our place in Christ where we are so confident He is sovereign, kind, loving and attending to our needs according to His riches in glory that we do not allow ourselves to be swallowed by the spirit of depression, anxiety, or some form of disillusionment. As for me, I can honestly say, it takes a lot, a whole lot, to discourage me. This is only because I keep my focus on Christ, His Kingdom promises, as well as recalling all I’ve ever experienced with Him in times past. I remind myself of things He has spoken to me, directly or indirectly. I recite the Word in my inner man so that all the negativity of the current day does not overwhelm me. I deal with today today because tomorrow has enough troubles of its own. I choose this because it is healthy (spiritually and physically), I choose it because it is good, I choose it because it is right, and I choose it because I must be an example of faith to my kid as well as onlookers.
Over the years, I have had a few people play the blame, guilt, shame and condemnation game, to which I refuse to participate. It’s from those uber-spiritual folks who are certain they could do better than I and that her illness is all my fault; they love to stir discouragement. I have heard, “You must not be praying right”, “you must have hidden sin”, “you must be speaking the wrong things”, “you must be entertaining demons”, “you must be a hypocrite since you’re a minster and believe in supernatural healing yet your kid is still sick” and much more of the like. These are those who believe that, if healing doesn’t come when or how they believe it should, it must be the parents’ fault.
Those words, if I allowed, would discourage and crush me to my core. But, because I am grounded firmly in my identity in Christ knowing I’ve done everything spiritually of which I am biblically aware, those words wash over me like water off a duck’s back. Believe me, I have questioned myself every which way – all these things crossed my mind at some point.
Parents, if you know who you are in Christ, if you know who Christ is in you, if you walk in accordance to His Word, and have surrendered yourself and your situation to Him, know that God will take everything Satan means against you for evil and turn it, one day, for your good, the good of your child, and the good of the Kingdom of God. Do not allow discouragement to overtake you because it benefits no one. Encourage yourself in God’s Word and His promises. In this, you won’t have to force positivity when around your child; it’ll flow freely from a genuine heart of love, faith and hope.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren (parents), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
My name is Alexys V. Wolf. I am first and foremost a wife and mother of two beautiful teenage daughters, as well as a minister, author and artist. I founded The Fiery Sword Ministries in 2007 and have multiple published books dealing with a garden variety of spiritual issues. The purpose of this blog and group, Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children, is to aid fellow parents in their journey with sick children.
By way of introduction, my eldest daughter, Sophia, started getting sick at six months old with double ear infections, yet they were nothing spectacular; nothing that would send red flags of future chronic illness. She was otherwise a well child until the age of five when she developed chronic stomach aches and UTI’s. We dealt with those nearly a year. When the gastroenterologist performed at endoscopy, he said he found no acid reflux but she had severe unexplained constipation. Unfortunately, the acid reflux went undiagnosed many years because she would only experience it with antibiotics.
By the age of 8, around 3rd grade, the stomach aches worsened and her pediatrician said, “It’s psychosomatic.” Knowing my daughter, watching her day in and day out, I was positive the doctor was incorrect in her sloppy assessment. By 9, I began taking her to our G.P. who was much more responsive to Sophia’s needs. Her neck had been growing oddly several years yet, when I would inquire, multiple doctors blew it off as “that’s just how she’s growing. Nothing to worry about.” Lo and behold, by the age of 10, our G.P. said, “Don’t freak out, Alexys, but Sophia has a goiter.” I rejoiced!! I knew something was remiss and she was the first person to acknowledge it. As one would expect, the ultrasound revealed Hoshimoto’s thyroiditis.
That sent us on a crazy ride for which we are still sojourning. We went to several specialists locally, but we found better care out of town at MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina), a 2-3 hour drive depending on traffic. It so happens that they discovered additional autoimmune issues, hormonal issues, as well as stomach problems.
I have refrained from speaking publically because there are certain aspects one simply doesn’t want to share with the world. Of course, I do share some within the confines of my various books, but that isn’t a public forum like social media. Not everyone will read my books, but anyone anywhere can run across my blog. Notwithstanding, I knew it was time to speak so as to help those whom I am able with daily living with a sick child. It is definitely no picnic. Along with the physical sickness, a parent has to eventually deal with the mental, emotional and spiritual toll it takes on someone who should, by all accounts, be running, jumping and playing with their friends without a care in the world. They should be fretting over silly things such as completing homework, who likes who at school, discovering interest in the opposite sex, attending school and church and their respective functions; what clothes to wear to this or that social event.
But, to our chagrin, they concern themselves with getting in their daily meds and whether or not they’ll be able to feel well enough to get out of bed on any given day. As the parent, it’s so frustrating watching teen groups at church prepare to minister overseas or in another state and not one person in that group knows my kid’s name. The sick are most definitely the forgotten. As a parent, it is heartbreaking. Not only is your child sick, but you are blatantly aware of all they’re missing. The common joys of life elude them.
In the following months, I will be addressing many issues which waylay, not only the children, but the parents and how I deal with them on a spiritual, physical, mental and emotional level. My directive is not to have a support group, per se, but rather a group of people with common interests and goals so as to encourage and enlighten one another. Granted, my child is not dying of cancer or anything of the sort as she comes in and out of wellness; although, as of late, there’s more illness than wellness. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we can certainly rally together with the intention of being comforted as well as grow in faith, strength and encouragement.
As a minister, I am an avid believer of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the power of supernatural healing; I have both witnessed it and experienced it for myself. In fact, Sophia, like my previous 7 pregnancies, was dead in my womb until, one day, two men of God were sent our way. They prayed powerfully in way I was yet to learn. In that prayer, God later revealed that, in fact, Sophia was dead but He sent these men to speak life into Sophia’s otherwise dead little body. That being said, I also know there are times where we don’t see what we think we ought to given the power of Christ within us. It’s in those times when an explanation fails us that we need to come together seeking the Word and will of the Father who is faithful.
As for our household, we have covered every known area spiritually and physically. We have laid on hands with elders, anointed with oil, bound away evil spirits, released Holy Spirit upon her and our home, broken generational curses and applied the blood of Jesus, repented, praised and so on. We’ve changed our diet, gone to specialists and taken the proper steps. In all this, we wait upon the Lord, trust in His sovereignty, and take things one day at a time. We place our trust in the Living Hope of Jesus.
Psalm 27:11-14: Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a level path because of my foes. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.