Chapter 14: Give Unrelentingly
I could write an entire book on giving but, for sake of time, I’ll attempt to give a brief overview on how the Lord calls us to give. I’ve added a list of texts at the end of the chapter. “Giving” is not what we see in churches across denominations where we robotically take our 10% or whatever amount and place it in the offering plate Sunday after Sunday. If we are called of God to do that, fine, but giving as Christ calls His people is far beyond that. I hear all the time, “I saw a beggar and I didn’t give him anything because…”
- They should get a job
- They’ll use the money for booze or drugs
- I have my money set aside to give to my local church
- I don’t want to
- I hate beggars
- They’re lazy
- They’re undeserving
- They won’t pay it back
- They’ll rob me
- I prayed for them already
- They’re ungrateful
- I don’t like them
- They smell badly
- They look scary
There are many other reasons, but these seem to be the most frequently used. Luke 6:30 begins with the words, “Give to everyone who asks you…” That alone debunks all excuses pertaining to not giving. It further states, “If they steal from you, give more.” That dethrones the remaining excuses used to not give. If we want to go further, read James 2 where we see praying, alone, is insufficient. Faith has legs and hands and feet and money. Faith in Christ will cause us to give, not just prayer, but physically meeting the needs of others.
If we’re still wondering when, how much, and to whom we should give, I John 3:17 clarifies with, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” If we have the means and someone is in need, give. It’s that simple. In the early church, those who had plenty sold their goods so that no one was without. Selfishness was not an option. When they sold their possessions so as to give, it didn’t leave them penniless, it merely allowed everyone to have and no one was in need.
Why aren’t God’s people giving in such a fashion? It’s because we’ve become calloused, greedy, and hard-hearted. It is time to thaw our frozen, stingy hearts and begin to love one another with prayer, time, energy, and money.
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him (I John 3:17, NAS)?”
“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that (James 2:15-16, NAS)?”
“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back…Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you give, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:30, 38, NIV).”
Additional texts: Deuteronomy 15:10, 16:17; Proverbs 21:26, 3:27, 11:24-25, 22:9, 28:27; I Chronicles 29:9; Matthew 6:3-4; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 3:11, 6:30, 38; II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 3:16; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:8
Question #1: How do I handle watching other healthy children who easily forget about my child; those kids who move on and don’t look back. There are days when it is just too much as a parent and I want to escape from it all, but I know I can’t because my child cannot so I just continue feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and sad.
As a parent of a child who was chronically ill ten years and, though recovering, still has bad weeks here and there, I can attest to the frustration and deep sorrow a parent feels watching healthy children live their lives with no thought of your sick child. I can’t count high enough to recount all the times I would be in church or around people with healthy, thriving kids and feel so compelled to cry aloud that I could scarcely contain my sorrow and utter agony. It isn’t that we want the well kids to be ill, rather we desire for our own child to have the freedom to run, grow, and thrive like their peers.
There is truly an inexpressible pain a parent feels watching their unwell child day in and day out with no signs of improvement. If one is not careful to self-adjust, jealousy can set in quickly. For those who know the Word of God well, you are aware that jealousy is a murdering spirit. It will annihilate the best of relationships, yourself, and those around you. Most parents don’t equate these feelings to jealousy but, if we are honest and if we look deeply enough into our soul so as to access the root problem, it is jealousy at its worst. I defer to I Corinthians 3:3 which reads, “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrels among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?”
Most liken this Scripture to different circumstances, but I believe it aptly describes the root of a parents’ problem when we feel such things. It is veiled jealousy in so much as it doesn’t at all feel like jealousy. It feels more like just wanting the best for your kid. This is how jealousy attacks – it is disguised as love. We want so desperately for our child to be well that we begin, in our heart of hearts, to pine after wellness. This pining, per se, comes from pure motives yet morphs into sin, the sin of jealousy. Believe me, I have experienced this first-hand and it is ugly! I’m not generally a jealous person so it took me quite by surprise when I felt it so strongly the first time. If I’m being completely candid, the spirit of jealousy stems from pride. Allow me to explain.
When you or I are in a situation we do not understand, do not like, and is altogether gut wrenching, after a while, pride says, “You and your child deserve better. God is not in love with mankind as a whole, and definitely not you or your child personally. If He were, this would not be happening. How can such a good God allow such heartbreak and agony?” The thing with which I had to come to terms is that, if I am to tell the absolute truth about the matter, we all deserve hell because of the sin-sick nature of mankind. Anything short of hell is a bonus, at least so far as I can tell. In other words, anything less than hell is God’s intense mercy on me, my child, or anyone else on planet Earth. I recognize this can sound harsh but, I promise you, this is how I had to bring myself back to reality and by “reality,” I mean God’s truth v. my skewed perspective of how I believe things should be.
I like to reference Job in these matters. Job suffered and initially blessed God. He lost everything except his nagging wife. Eventually, he suffered intense bodily afflictions. By chapter 30, Job was complaining about his poor estate. Chapter 31 shows Job defending his integrity. By chapter 32, the young prophet Elihu rebukes Job as led by Holy Spirit and this goes on several chapters. By chapter 38, God rebukes Job intensely because of him defending himself and demanding the counsel of the Lord so as to question Him. Chapter 42:1-6, the last chapter, Job is humbled in the presence of the Lord and says to God, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear me now, and I will speak. I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job repented. This is crucial to understand in any case of intense, long-term suffering of any kind. Job plead his case expecting God to “fix things” due to how well and long he had served the Lord. This point of view was ungodly and wrong in every way. In the end, once he repented the situation (surrendered to God’s holiness), his life was Spirit-filled instead of based on “things he didn’t really know.” In the end, life was better than before the trial started. God had a plan Job could not see or understand at the time. All God wanted him to do was relent, surrender, and watch and wait for God’s supernatural hand to move.
What is my point? As parents, we want the best for our children. When, in our exhaustion, we get caught up into the emotions of the situation, we cannot see clearly. More specifically, we cannot see God clearly, even though we say with our lips, “I believe. I have faith in God.” Too often, we say it out of habit, but not truly from the heart of faith. We are frequently so irritated that God isn’t healing our child as we believe He should or fast enough, we completely lose perspective. By “perspective” I mean heavenly perspective. We are to set our minds on things above and not things of this earth and illness itself is of the earth. Our focal point is wrong. Other healthy kids as a focus is incorrect. Our child not healing fast enough is not the correct focus. We are to be sober and vigilant in our communion with the Lord. The only way to combat the jealousy is to request of the Lord a change of perspective instead of constantly begging for a change of situation. Playing the comparison game in our minds is terribly misguiding.
It is completely natural to want our kids to be like normal, healthy kids. I feel the same way. However, normalcy should not be our goal. Holiness and God’s perfected will in every matter should be. God has made us supernatural in His image once we receive His Spirit. My favorite author, Watchman Nee, said something to the effect that God’s people are usually too quick to beg to be well when, all the while, we should have the patience to see what God is doing in the trial, and he was a man of severe ongoing suffering. I agree. The body in which we dwell is flesh, which means it is flawed due to the entrance of sin into the world. Some bodies hold up better and longer than others. I have no explanation as to the selection of who is who. What I do know is that, as a parent specifically, we get terribly caught up in the emotion of dealing with our children and, in our emotionalism, we miss the hand of God. We pray the wrong prayers or with the wrong motives, though we are sincere.
For me personally, I had to regularly and repeatedly take my eyes off my child, off other children, off what I believed should happen and when, and begin to praise the Lord for His goodness and mercies which are new every day. What I am saying is not for the novice Christian but rather for the one who desires the perfect will of God in everything. It doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions, that we don’t ever feel frustration, sadness, or irritation. It does mean we must filter all our emotions through the Spirit of God. We must inquire of the Lord, “What should I pray? What should I do or not do? Reveal to me how to rest amid this horrific storm. Father, I believe, help me with my unbelief. I trust You with my life and the life of my ill child. I thank You, Father, that You are more in love with my child than I ever could be because they are Yours first and then mine secondly. Father, orchestrate my footsteps. Lead me to the right place so that I will properly do my part as a parent, but help me relinquish the other parts which are not mine to fix. Thank You that those other children are healthy and do not know the anguish of my child. Help me to set my mind on things above, to meditate on Your Word night and day, to be sober minded and vigilant in Your will above my own, to see as You see, to respond in accordance to Your righteousness, to cast down imaginations and strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself above the name of Christ in my life, and to think on whatsoever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, and of praise. I surrender this situation to You completely. Thank You for the rest which only You can supernaturally provide for my soul. Selah.”
Chapter 9: Strangers and Prisoners
“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same (Matthew 5:47, NAS)?”
“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body…(Hebrews 13:1-3).”
Do you remember the question, “who is my neighbor?” Well, here it is again. Not only are we cautioned to love our brothers (which can often feel virtually impossible), but here we are encouraged to do the same with those outside our brethren. Are we who are extending love to those within the body only doing so at the least possible level, or are we pushing ourselves to go beyond our borders and love those without? We never know to whom we are showing kindness or hostility; we don’t know who may be an angel among us.
And more than that, what if they’re not an angel? What if they’re just some random person who needs kindness, a comforting word, or God’s love expressed to them? We are not to choose whether or not we love our brothers or love our neighbors or strangers or prisoners; we are to love all people at all times, even when admonishing someone.
I love the line in Hebrews 13: “…since you yourselves also are in the body.” Prisoners are a passion of mine because I recognize the undisputed fact I too could be behind physical bars if I had remained married to my first ex-husband. Someone was going to get hurt somewhere along the line! I could have been pushed to do something untoward given the demonic nature in which he operated. Any number of things and circumstances could have led me down the wrong path and caused me to do something prison-worthy. No one knows of what we are capable until a situation arises.
Furthermore, there are people not behind physical bars but behind internal bars, chains, and other barriers. “Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them” states Hebrews 13. We are in the body therefore we could do something stupid at any moment should the flesh get the better of us. In this, we must all be compassionate toward those who most folks deem unsavory. We would be wise to remember how our flesh acted prior to surrendering to Christ. I am painfully aware I must surrender the nature of my flesh daily. Just because I live in a fleshly shell doesn’t mean I need to be driven by it, though it genuinely wants to take the wheel of my life.
Those who are externally or internally imprisoned are so because, somewhere along the line, the flesh got the better of them. Neither you nor I are exempt. Have compassion. Have mercy. Lend prayer. We never know what stranger or prisoner may be an angel in disguise, but don’t be motivated to kindness because of that as if to think, “I don’t want to mess with an angel!” Perceive everyone as someone in need of the same love Christ extended to us in our time of need.
“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
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.
In Our Image, Multiply and Rule:
“God blessed them…and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves (creeps) on the earth(Genesis 1:28, NAS).”
Right away we see that there were only blessings to reap. God’s law of increase (be fruitful and multiply) is fully intact. This law cannot change. It was meant for increased blessings not increased curses. Because of sin, the law worked against man instead of for us.
God gave man authority over “every living thing that moves on the earth.” Adam was to subdue (to guard, rule and reign as kings over a kingdom ruling all living things) earth. I suggest Myles Monroe’s book, Rediscovering the Kingdom for a more detailed explanation. He is quite thorough.
Spirit to Spirit:
“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7, NAS).”
Adam was formed from dust and God breathed life into him. He was alive physically, still his spirit was asleep. It is like us today. When someone comes out of darkness and into the holy light of Christ, they receive His life breath as did Adam. That life ushers Holy Spirit into our spirit. However, that doesn’t mean that the Spirit-to-spirit connection is functioning.
There is generally an awakening, or rather a season where we go from possessing Holy Spirit to becoming possessed by Holy Spirit. Adam possessed the life of God, His breath, yet the life of God did not yet possess him; consequently, he fell.
Only a select few throughout the Old Testament were anointed with Holy Spirit such as David, Elijah, Abraham and the prophets of old. Spiritually, this is still how we are born into Christ. Without His life giving breath (spirit), we are dead in our sins. Likewise, without the awakening of our spirit-man, for our necessary Spirit-to-spirit relationship, we are incapable of becoming who and what God has created us to be, individually and collectively; for our personal lives and for the Kingdom of God.
Our spirit, when quickened to life, is split from our soul. Hebrews 4:12 makes this clear: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Holy Spirit is the key element in this spiritual walk so as to not be deceived and devoured by the enemy as was Adam. We must consign our flesh wholly; this means the earthly, sinful, old Adamic nature. The only way to be like God as was His original intent is to be overtaken by Holy Spirit through surrendering the fleshly nature completely; or in other words, die to self allowing His life to rule supreme. Keep in mind that death here is a spiritual term meaning that we do not allow ourselves to be led by the world’s way of thinking or doing. With new birth in Christ, we now seek Holy Spirit for every breath, word, thought and deed that comes from, to, and through us.
Hope you’ll come back next week as we continue this topic. It requires careful study so as to clear some long-standing misconceptions. If you are interested in reading more, check out my website to order my books, or go to my Facebook ministry page where I post regularly. Blessings!
Alexys V. Wolf