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“Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14).

In 2 Kings Chapter 5, we read the account of Naaman, captain of the Syrian army. He was a mighty man and honorable. Even though he was well-respected with an important position, he had leprosy.

Leprosy was a disease of the skin.  In the worst cases, the victims flesh would rot and fall off. Anyone who had this disease was considered unclean.

Naaman’s wife had a maid that had been captured from Israel. She told them about the prophet Elisha and the healings that followed his ministry . The king of Syria sent a messenger with talents, gold and raiment to the king of Israel in exchange for the prophet to come heal Naaman. When Elisha heard about this, he told the messenger to have Naaman come to him.

When Naaman came to the house, Elisha came to the door and told him to go wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman walked away furious because he expected the prophet to come and pray over him with a great prayer, not send him to the Jordan River to wash. He even questioned why he couldn’t go to another, better river. One of the servants pleaded with him to do as Elisha had commanded. Naaman finally agreed and went to wash in the Jordan River. On the seventh time that he entered the water, he was healed.

There was nothing special about what Elisha told Naaman to do. There was nothing magical about the Jordan River. Elisha didn’t speak a prophetic prayer over Naaman. It just came down to obedience.

God may ask you to do something that you think is foolish just to see if you will do it out of obedience. The answer to your prayer will always be linked to obedience.

About 8-9 years ago, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It got to the point that no one could touch me including my husband and my son. Most of the time, I would stay home.  I would miss church. People shaking my hand or hugging me had become too painful. Many times I would sit at home and cry because the pain was too much for me. There  were medicines to ease the pain, but no cure.  I became depressed and there were times I wished I could just die.

One day, I finally had enough. I had prayed numerous times for God to heal me but I didn’t get my miracle. Our church was having a special service and I wanted to go. That night they asked people to come to the front who needed healing, deliverance, salvation, etc. I made my way to the front and stood over to the side so that people wouldn’t touch me.

The guest speaker came by and asked why I needed prayer. I told him I wanted to be healed. I did not tell him the specific need, just that I needed healing. He asked me to spin around 3 times to receive my healing. At first, I stood and thought to myself, “What does this have to do with me getting my healing?” I finally decided that I would obey and do what he asked. I spun around once, twice, and on the third time the power of God touched me. God instantly healed me of Fibromyalgia and I have not suffered since that day!

There was nothing magical about spinning around.  The healing was released because I was obedient. If I had stopped after the first or second time around, I would not have received my miracle. God wanted me to trust and obey Him.

What is God asking you to do?  Obey.  It could be the answer to your prayer.

 

BY MISHELLE NALLY

One bright morning, a young woman was talking with an old friend. After a while, the woman’s friend looked at her and sighed. “It must be so nice to have everything in your life all figured out,” she said.

The woman laughed and replied, “Well, not everything.”

Later that day, the young woman unlocked the door to her cozy apartment and sat by her older sister, who asked about her day.

“It was good.” But neither woman was convinced.

A few moments passed, and the young woman fought an internal battle against surging emotions. “I think I need to talk,” she admitted.

Sobs soon broke loose from the young woman. The tears were watery evidence of a breakdown she had suppressed for hours, days and months. It was a culmination of work stress, emotional stress and — at the crux of it all — life expectations that hadn’t been met yet.

Amidst the tears and embarrassed laughter, she uttered the words that had silently been eating away at her: “I don’t know why [insert here] hasn’t happened yet. I know I shouldn’t think this, but I feel like I haven’t earned it yet. I don’t deserve it, so God hasn’t given it to me.”

The sister held her, lovingly offering support and encouraging words about the promises God had given to the young woman.

Eventually, the young woman wiped her eyes and nose, spent some time in prayer and started writing a story.

Spoiler: I am that young woman, and this is my very true, very recent story.

Another spoiler: I don’t actually have everything in my life all figured out.

Weeks earlier, I read Genesis 22, following Abraham and Isaac as they hiked a mountain to offer a sacrifice to God. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice the very blessing God had promised to him years before, an angel appeared.

“‘Don’t lay a hand on the boy!’ the angel said. ‘Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.'” (Genesis 22:12 NLT)

While reading this verse, I scribbled a note: What are you withholding from God? The thought intrigued me, but I didn’t get any insights from God at the time.

My breakdown came a few weeks later. As I sobbed, I began to understand what God had started speaking to my heart: It’s okay to be vulnerable.

To be honest, this was hard to admit to myself. I tend to keep things to myself. I don’t like to show weakness. I don’t like it when people see me cry. I don’t like it when people see I’m vulnerable. So, I put those emotions and thoughts aside.

And God was like, “Jen, you’re withholding a part of yourself from me.”

Withhold: To refuse to give; to suppress or hold back.

I wasn’t withholding prayer time, Bible reading, church commitments or anything external from Him. This was emotional withholding.

True friends can talk to each other about anything — be it crazy, stupid or #realtalk. Likewise, if you withhold parts of yourself from a friend, you withhold parts of yourself from that relationship. You essentially build a wall around that part of you, blocking it off from anybody or anything.

And we can do that with God. We can refuse to tell Him about our hidden anxieties and feelings — some of which we might not even know exist. But God already knows.

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:15-16 NLT)

Yes, God in His omniscience understands every part of us. But He still wants us to communicate with Him, to build that relationship. David recognized this in his psalm. After acknowledging God’s power and knowledge, he asked God to examine him.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

Express yourself to God. It’s okay to be vulnerable with Him. He can handle your raw thoughts, your anger or confusion, your disappointment or shame. We can trust Him with our innermost parts.

When we are weak, He is our strength. When we are defenseless, He is our fortress. When we are vulnerable, He is our trustworthy friend. So, stand firm in your faith that you are in God’s plan, obey His voice and pursue His promises.

And remember: You don’t have to earn His mercy, grace, blessings or love. His grace is relentless. His mercy is unconditional. His blessings are perfect. His love is unfailing. And His thoughts are good.

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17 NLT)

 

You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/

Your attachment to your wishful thinking, longings, and ideas of fairness can trap you in cycles of pointless longing and despair.

Ac-cep-tance n– willingness to believe that something is true.

-the realization of a fact or truth resulting in somebody’s coming to terms with it.

-the tolerating of something without protest

(Encarta World English Dictionary)

Storms happen in life. The unexpected hits suddenly—the loss of a job, the loss of a friend, the end of a marriage, or the end of your ministry as you have known it. In the face of loss—whether disease, injury, accident, set back, crushing event, or the end of life as you know it—we go through stages of denial, bargaining, and finally acceptance.

Acceptance is the place where you pick up the broken pieces and decide how to proceed from here. Regardless of what has happened, moving forward is still an option.

Let’s Talk About It

Much has been written about Admiral Jim Stockdale who was a prisoner of war at the “Hanoi Hilton” for eight years during the Vietnam War. When interviewed by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, the question was asked, “How did you deal with it?” Admiral Stockdale responded, “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect, I would not trade.” He said this about a horrific eight-year experience of torture, deprivation, isolation, and uncertainty.

To the question, “Who didn’t make it out?” he replied, “The optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We are going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Stockdale summed it up with this life lesson: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Collins wrote, “To this day, I carry a mental image of Stockdale admonishing the optimists: ‘We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”

Acceptance is the ability to look at your current reality and deal with it. Not in a broken and defeated spirit, but with an awareness that you too will prevail in the end.

Live It

In order to thrive in your current reality, you may need to:

  • Examine the problem in a positive light. Turn bad situations into something meaningful—taking action gives you a sense of purpose. The business investment wasn’t a failure; it was a valuable learning experience. Focus on what is good. It will give you strength and energy to work with what is wrong or to simply live with uncertainty.
  • Explore your strengths and re-label weaknesses as growth areas. You will never know the thrill of conquering new territory if you are ruled by fear.
  • Eliminate the negativity. Mentally rehearsing or talking about the bad, ugly, or current difficulties of your life will not improve it. You will prevail because of deliberate daily choices of right thinking.
  • Evaluate your options. You are not stuck. Pray for courage to adjust, make changes, or smile instead of frowning. Brainstorm your choices. If you are miserable in your job or facing a layoff, what are your options? I can join a circus, go back to school, find a new job or…

It may be raining but you have an umbrella!

 

Reprinted with permission from Reflections Magazine.