Rest

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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If there’s one “skill” I have honed having a chronically ill child, it’s patience. Patience, as many know, is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. My entire adult life, I’ve functioned in two speeds: fast and faster. I made quick decisions in everything; procrastination is not in my vocabulary. This can be an asset but, also a liability depending upon the situation. With a child who is perpetually ill, there is no such thing as “instantaneous”. There’s waiting on getting an appointment with specialists, waiting on meds to kick in, waiting on doctors to decide the next move, waiting in a lobby to be seen by doctors who are running behind (sometimes hours), and so on.

In this, I have learned (by force, in a manner of speaking) that patience is an invaluable asset in the Kingdom of God and, in turn, my life. Although, there are times when going fast can be good because we need to think on our feet, it can cause a stream of destruction by refusing to slow down long enough so as to properly evaluate the end result of our momentary actions. Patience comes from pause and pauses are very good. Pauses allow us to properly assess what is happening and what needs to occur next if, that is, we are wise enough to stop whining through the halt.

Impatience has proven itself deadly or, at the very least, tumultuous. Abraham birthed his own enemy through Ishmael. The prodigal son received his fortunes immediately but, then lost everything until he humbled himself. Judas received his fortune by selling out Jesus and his end was quite horrible. Eve’s impatience for more caused the death of mankind; on and on the stories go. The impatience of my youth caused me to marry a vile man; the repercussions took two decades to subside. On the flip side, Joseph, because of his intense patience, became ruler over all of Egypt, second only the Pharaoh. Patience, once Abraham surrendered to God’s timing, birthed many nations in his old age through Isaac.

 

My point is this: there is good in every obstacle if only we look to God. “There are no problems, only possibilities and opportunities”, I heard back in the 90’s from a wise man. I must admit, I initially thought the man was loony but, it began a new quest to look at things differently. Fast forward twenty-five or so years: I could easily murmur and complain about how difficult this all has been with Sophia or, I can choose to look to God so as to recognize good which has come about through the intense difficulties we have faced. Patience allows us or, rather, me, to see with Kingdom vision instead of the here-and-now.

I am forever changed for all this and I know, with great confidence, it will (in time) change Sophia for the better. There will be people with whom she can relate whereas someone else may not. This will cause her to be a game-changer in the lives of those who are otherwise hopeless and helpless. It will make her far more compassionate and relatable than someone who can only assume how they would feel or respond in a particular trial. Patience in allowing ourselves to endure something with grace and growth instead of attempting with futility to “get out of jail free quickly” develops endurance, perseverance and victory.

Watchman Nee (my favorite author and man of God) said (and I paraphrase) God’s people try too hard to pray themselves out of tribulation when, all the while, God is purposing to train us through it. Getting out to quickly actually hurts us because we soon will have to start over in another trial so we may eventually learn what we need. God’s will is not necessarily to experience “healing” (in whatever capacity) instantly because we will miss its purpose. In this thinking, my friend was correct: There are no problems, only opportunities and possibilities. Are you looking for your possibility and opportunity?

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Thirteen: Igniting God’s Completed Work

Faith, faith, faith and more faith is the key to unlock the Kingdom of God and His power therein. When I read Hebrews 11 in its entirety, I stand amazed; first at God, and, secondly, at the people who withstood things most of us can’t fathom in their wildest nightmares. What these folks endured is nothing short of a miracle because they didn’t buckle, not even in the face of death. The chronicle of these mighty people of God reminds me of Matthew 10:28 which instructs, “do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

In this world and, more specifically, in the Church, people are far more concerned with what people think of them than being obedient to the Word of God (the expression of His power). Forget being concerned with being hung, beaten, burned or tortured in some capacity since we can’t get past being afraid of someone rejecting us. This is a sad fact but, looking around the churches, it’s evident. We are far more concerned with the opinion of our fellow man than following Christ outside the city walls no matter the repercussions.

How can we possibly walk an authentic life of faith if we can’t get past worrying about what someone thinks of us be it family, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, or whomever? This behavior does not and cannot please Yahweh. Having good intentions without faith cannot please Him; consequently, we squelch His power within us. When we are not walking in faith, God cannot materialize His completed work and then we’re left wondering, “Where’s God? Why isn’t He helping me? Where is His power now?” To quote my friend, Rachelle Freeman Sanders, “Faith doesn’t move God; faith is your positive response to what God has already done by grace. ‘Won’t He do it?’ you ask. No, He’s already done it!”

When you get to the place where you genuinely desire experiencing His power moving in your life, start with faith. This isn’t to insult where you are with Christ; it is simply a fact which applies to everyone. This is for me and this is for you. Faith is where Holy Spirit power ignition begins and ends and it usually comes prior to falling in love with Him. Faith is the vehicle which delivers into your life that which God has already accomplished before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3). Everything past, present and future was perfected before the Earth was set in motion, we’re just watching it unfold over the centuries. How you operate in faith in the face of your most ferocious adversary will determine how far God can present and produce His completed work.

Faith is paramount to any Christ-follower. Faith is the ignition switch to God’s power and strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Without faith, how can one have joy in Him? If we only have information about God with which we desire to share with others yet have no joy, where is the supernatural strength required to be displayed in everyday life so as to draw others to Christ?

We who desire earnestly to follow Christ must understand, all that is to be done is already accomplished. There is nothing more for Christ to do on your behalf. Money problems? Already solved. Children problems? Already resolved. Spousal problems? Already finished. Do you see? God sees the end from the beginning because, in God’s timing, the ending has already been fulfilled.

If this were inaccurate, how could God have spoken of Jesus in the Old Testament? How could the prophecies yet to come have been written? It’s because it’s already finished. Furthermore, how could Christ say in John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” The “what is to come” part reveals what already is but is yet to be. The truth is, according to the Spirit of God, all is already complete. We’re simply awaiting it’s unfolding.

***

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval…and what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:1-2, 32-40, (NAS)

“and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3, NAS).”

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Twelve: The Word of His Power and Strength of His Might

Right away, I must address the powerful few words of Hebrews 1:3: “He upholds all things by the word of His power.” Such an amazing testament to the Triune God! It doesn’t say, “the power of His word” no, it’s the word of His power. To express it another way, He is all-powerful, all power and, when He speaks, the words merely express His nature of power. In this, it isn’t words alone, it’s that His words are an extension of who He is. It’s His power that allowed Christ to purify sinful man through a willing crucifixion, and that which also permitted Him to sit at the right hand of the Majesty of high. Just awesome!

Now to Isaiah 50; what a powerful commentary from our Lord. He asks the question, “Why was there no man when I came…there was no one to answer? Or have I no power to deliver?” In between these words He asks, “Is My hand so short it cannot ransom?” It is imperative for God’s people to awaken to His majestic power whether He speaks or is silent. We must believe and know unwaveringly that, no matter how difficult our situations, He is all power and there is nowhere His righteous right hand cannot reach.

Then He continues, “…that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.” This is simply breathtaking. No one was there for Him when He came to them and I can only assume by reading the whole of chapter 50 that they had no confidence in His power, in who He is, or in what He is able to accomplish on their behalf. His holy people had sinned against Him due to lack of faith in His supreme power. He is 100% capable and willing to sustain the weary and able to do so with only one word of His power.

What will it require for His people to come out of the slavery of religion, tradition, and the world’s wicked system so as to comprehend His power and willingness to share that power with His holy people? God’s power to heal, sustain, refresh, and restore is without limit; it is we who limit His power because we do not believe in it or in Him. If we did, we would experience restoration and power prior to things being remedied. We believe, therefore we are supernaturally able to see before it manifests in the Earth and in our daily lives. There is no limit to His power.

Strength and might have nearly the same meaning, yet the Bible was compelled to say “the strength of His might” as if two separate entities. To me, it reiterates the infinite power of God. The repetition of ‘strength’ and ‘might’ reveal something so powerful it’s far beyond our natural comprehension. God is all power, all might, all strength; He is in all things, through all things, and all things were created by Him. That’s the strength of His might!

We have the ‘word of His power’ as well as the ‘strength of His might’. How incredible that our perfect, holy God would grant feeble, sinful mankind such unlimited power. When you read “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)”, what does that mean to you personally? When He tells mankind, “I satisfy the weary one and refresh everyone who languishes (Jeremiah 31:25)”, how does that resonate with you?

 Too many are quoting Scriptures but they don’t mean anything to them, not really. When they’re in a gale and the wind and rains of life hit so hard they can’t breathe, their true beliefs come front and center. When their child is dying of cancer and they can’t understand or even see God, or when they’re facing foreclosure on their home and have no idea where to take their family, or their marriage has crumbled unexpectedly, mere theology, church membership, and good deeds bear no weight; they have no eternal spiritual value because they are not rooted in relationship with God, who He is, knowing His promises are authentic, or that He is who He proclaims Himself to be.

Going through all we’ve endured these last many years caused moments of pause in me, I assure you. When we were being hit over, and over, and over again, there were flashes of, “Really? God, are You there? Is there a point to all the praying?” I am not ashamed to admit this because, in those moments, in the questioning, God proved Himself repeatedly. I can’t help but recognize God in every nuance. When we question with the desire to learn, He always responds. We need only pay attention.

Every single time, without fail, His strength and His might would overtake me one more time. When I was so physically weak, God would provide a way to accomplish whatever necessary. I was never alone, I was never without power, I was never without His might, joy, grace, love or mercy. God’s might and strength often come in the quietude of life, the softer more delicate moments. He isn’t always a sonic boom, but rather a hush that accommodates peace when all else is seemingly falling apart.

***

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power (Isaiah 40:29, NAS).”

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3, NAS).”

“Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink for lack of water and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness and make sackcloth their covering.  The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word (Isaiah 50:2-4, NAS).”

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10, NAS).”

“…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10, NAS).”

“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places (Habakkuk 3:19, NAS).”

 

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Content in Weakness, part III

On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:5-10, NAS)

 

I hear constantly, “I will bend but I won’t break” and that has nothing to do with God’s instruction. God, as I’ve written previously, most assuredly wants us to break because, in our brokenness (utter weakness) He is able to restore, renew, refresh and altogether transform us. We’re so busy trying to be strong enough so as not to break, we miss the God to whom we cry and plead.

After my first husband abused and abandoned me, I can recall emphatically stating, “I will not be like those other poor divorcees, I will not be a blubbering, sad woman broken by a man!” Because of my frail attempt to be stronger than my predecessors who have already experienced such anguish, I became the thing I vowed I would not be and worse. Bottling all that pain and sorrow, pushing it unresolved to the bottom of my spirit only made me more crushed than at the onset. God never wants to crush you as that is the tactic of the enemy. Satan desires to sift you like wheat. God wants you broken, weakened unto death (internally), so He can produce His supernatural life through your circumstances.

If you don’t believe me and cannot find a specific Scripture stating, “God will break you to remake you”, allow me to point you to every person of God who ever accomplished anything for God’s glory and the benefit of the person and multitudes of people. Struggles come to all who have a huge assignment. Some examples are: Jesus, Joseph, David, Mary (mother of Jesus), Mary Magdalene, Ruth, Daniel, Jacob, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Apostle Paul, Job, Esther, Jochebed, Pharaoh’s daughter (Moses’ adoptive mom), Samson, Peter, Joseph (Jesus’ adoptive dad), and Nehemiah.

Certainly the list goes on and on. Read Hebrews 11. There’s literally a list of men and women who were slain literally to physical death so as to withstand the mocking of the anti-Christ spirit facing them. God’s ambassadors must be able to withstand the wiles of the anti-Christ and the only way to accomplish this is to first take us to a breaking point. God was their Portion no matter what earthly portions they were looking to lose. The breaking brings a person of God to the brink of total loss so that their gain is in Jesus alone.

For me, I can lose my husband, my children, my loved ones, my home, my car, money and worldly possessions and survive, but do not remove Holy Spirit because I would not survive. He is my solace, my comfort, my strength, my faith, my life. Without Him, I have nothing, I am nothing, and there is nothing of value. Breaking is a blessing; it is one of our greatest benefits.

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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Having a chronically ill child has killed my OCD; there’s literally not enough energy remaining in my body to lend to cleaning my house and ordering things as I am accustomed. Maybe “killed” is overstating a bit. It’s more like a deep suppression, which is worse. If the OCD were dead, it wouldn’t bother me how dirty my house gets! Nevertheless, the point is, I am no longer able to lend attention to detailing my house in a way that meets my approval. I’m severely embarrassed when someone stops by because of the common disarray.

As I’ve previously stated, it is exhausting caring for a chronically ill child, or any person for that matter. The medial tasks one could accomplish prior to their child becoming ill can no longer be done lest you pay an outside source. I’d give just about anything to have the money to hire a cleaning person twice a week. But, when all your money goes into the care of the child, there’s nothing much left, at least for the average family.

Here’s my point. To the parents with OCD who expect certain things of themselves to be executed a particular way at a certain time, allow yourself to let it go. There are, as a matter of fact, more important challenges to daily life than having a spotless house. Would I be more comfortable with a tidy house? Without question! Notwithstanding, I am no longer able to accomplish it. I’ve had to learn to rest regardless of the mess surrounding me. It doesn’t mean I never clean. It does, however, mean I don’t go into a dither when it isn’t done when I believe it should be. I have had to adapt to the circumstances because I surely haven’t discovered how to force life to adapt to my OCD.

Life is hard enough with an ill child, regardless of their malady. We need not heap further pressures to our schedules, especially when they have no real value. Your life and the life of your entire family superiorly outweigh the irritations of an untidy house. For me, learning to lay down the internal pressure of OCD was difficult, but altogether necessary. Rest is hard to come by with a sick child, so I choose to use my “down time” to rest instead of clean. It is of the utmost importance to be as rested as possible so as to not become unable to care for your child and other family members. Learning to let things go has been a huge step in my mental wellness. It really is okay to rest. Let’s not add heaviness to the yoke of life. I encourage you to lay down the stress.

Mark 6:31: He (Jesus) said…“Come to me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 5b: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh

True Circumcision:

“For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…(Philippians 3:3, NAS).”

“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Ephesians 2:3, NAS).

Definition of Circumcision: removal of the foreskin or prepuce of the male genital organ

In the natural, circumcision is a customary, religious practice of being set apart from other people groups by removing a layer of skin not required for life. It is removed as a symbol of purity. One is born with it but is not necessary to sustain life, much like the appendix or gallbladder. Spiritually, God calls His people to be “set aside” through circumcision. We’re all born with a fleshly, sinful nature, but it must be cut away so as to be set aside unto God. It has everything to do with characteristics and predispositions with which we are all born. To say, “I was born this way” as if to excuse sin or bad behavior is invalid before God. We’re all born with characteristics, flaws and temptations that, once in Christ, must be abdicated to God through spiritual circumcision. For that matter, we’re all born little babies, but we do not remain in such a form.

To be circumcised in Christ means you live only unto Christ and you willingly cut away that which is displeasing to the King. It is a matter of surrendering everything. “Put no confidence in the flesh” Paul says, by definition, the flesh is defiled. The fleshly nature of mankind is a heavy yoke no one can bear very long. It is condemned and can breed only corruption, no exemptions. There is no exclusive club comprised of people who are born into righteousness. We are all born into the nature of the world with our minds corrupt from birth. There are natural weaknesses that don’t need to be kept and controlled; they need to be forfeited altogether for the cause of Christ.

A baby or young child may be innocent from blatant sin, but a child naturally knows how to manipulate with crying, whining, begging, nagging and things of the like. It comes naturally figuring out quickly how to get what it wants. That isn’t innocence, that’s the sin nature at work without even realizing what’s happening.

It is crucial you and I understand we are all born into the sin nature of Adam. There is no good person good enough that God would look upon them and say, “Okay, you, you and you are exempt from resigning the Adamic nature because I like your style!” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God (Matthew 19:16; Romans 7:18).” True circumcision is spiritual and it is a matter of cutting away that which divides you from intimacy with God.

All God’s people should desire and pray that “the natural will become unnatural and the supernatural of God become natural.” Translation: you personally should be so attuned to and led by Holy Spirit that acting worldly becomes unnatural, and operating supernaturally, as God, becomes everyday life. In this condition, whatever unholy characteristics are present with which we are born, they are brought into submission to the Holy One so that He will reign in their stead.

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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One of many issues with having a chronically ill child is dealing with the emotional and psychological toll. As a parent, when your child is sick for an extended period of time, for many people, there’s no escape because you are with them 24/7. You’re administering medications, taking them to the next doctor’s appointment or simply holding and comforting him or her hours at a time. To say it is “draining” and “overwhelming” is a gross understatement.

I can only speak from my perspective as I have not journeyed with any other parent and their sick child. I’m certain it is different in each situation but, at the root, we’re all exhausted which makes us the same. Since I don’t have a mountain cabin, a beach house or even a separate office at my disposal to which I can get away and I don’t have the means to hire a nursing staff to care for Sophia, I have to go in my room, shut the door and simply sit in quietude, just me and God. There I am able to regain my sanity once more as I talk to mine and Sophia’s Creator.

Being a caregiver of anyone is difficult in its own right, but caring for your baby of any age is quite another thing. Life can become so overwhelming you don’t know which way to turn. Graham Cooke said this and they are life-changing words by which I choose to live: “We are not here to be overwhelmed by life, by circumstances, by the wickedness of people, or by what the enemy is trying to accomplish. We are here to be overwhelmed by who God is for us.”

As I continue on this path with my God-created daughter, daily I remind myself that God is in love with her and with me. In this remembrance, I rest is who God is in every situation. I am at peace knowing Christ carried this specific burden at the Cross of Calvary. His Kingdom has equipped me with everything I need in each and every moment. When I begin to feel overwhelmed by the circumstances before us, I breath; I commune with the sovereign, holy God, and I choose rest instead of allowing chaos to ensue.

The tactic of Satan is to get us to panic because, when we do, we lose sight of God and His purpose. I am sustained even when I do not know what to do in a given moment. God is faithful, He is just, He is loving and He has a plan; I have walked with Him long enough to experience this fact. According to Romans 8:28, all things (good, bad, uncomfortable, painful, etc.) work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. I bank on this promise every single day. He will not let us down despite how bleak things can appear. I rest in His greatness.

Psalm 27:13-14: 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.