A chronicle of our lives. One day, maybe a book...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Can't Stop the Pain

Several years ago, I broke my ankle at Hawaiian Falls. How I broke my ankle is horrifically embarrassing, and I will only tell close friends the actual story. Following the incident, I thought I was ok, even though I could hardly walk on it. The bottom line is that I'm cheap: I didn't want to pay money to go to the ER, and I didn't want to have to pay for a doctor's visit just for them to tell me everything is fine. Except it wasn't fine. Over the next few weeks, the pain increased, and I knew something was definitely wrong. By the time I finally went to the doctor, I was told that a piece of my ankle bone had chipped off, and it had already started to fuse back together incorrectly. The only way to fix it was to have surgery. That was a big "nope" from me. There was no way I was paying money for surgery to fix a tiny chip on my ankle, and even then, there was no guarantee I would ever be pain-free.

This physically painful incident taught me much more than to just go ahead and go to the ER when I hurt myself. The lingering pain and the aches I feel when the weather changes taught me about what happens to us when we ignore not just our physical pain, but our emotional pain as well. When we hurt ourselves physically, we understand that there will be pain. We know that we need to go see a doctor and get stitches, bones set, or we may even need surgery. We understand that there is a healing process we must undertake to make our bodies whole again.

In the summer of '99, I nearly cut my left index finger off at the first knuckle joint. I immediately went to the ER (this time!) to get stitches. The pain of the lidocaine needle was worse than the steak knife that sliced through my tissue and tendons. I remember writhing in pain when the doctor crammed that needle into my wound. However, I understood this additional pain as part of the healing process. I didn't want to have to get the stitches--or the eventual surgery--but I wanted to be healed and put back together more than the ensuing pain. I had to endure the needle, the surgery, the rehab, so that I would heal properly. If I refused to take any of these steps, I would never regain the proper use of my index finger.

We understand the pain and healing process with our physical bodies, but most of us will do anything and everything to avoid the pain of emotional healing. Why should it be any different? When we experience emotional pain, we want it to go away at all costs. We turn to the bottle. We turn to pills. We turn to sex. We turn to porn. We turn to food. We turn to our phones. All of those things give us instant gratification--it makes us feel better in the moment. Each one of these things helps us take our minds off the emotional pain we are experiencing. Why in the world do we not think to go to the ER and the Doctor when we experience emotional pain? Stripping our hurts down to the bone is gut-wrenching--just like setting a broken bone. But we would all be more than willing to get a broken bone set. How many people would actually say, "Nah, Doc. I think I'll just let my tibia stay outside my shin the rest of my life. I can just cover it up with my pants, and it will feel better eventually"? That would be ludicrous.

The bottom line is that when we get hurt, it hurts even more to be healed. We have to be willing to feel the secondary hurt in order to heal. If we face our emotional pain in the same way we face our physical pain, imagine the healing that could take place in our souls! Our thought process must change from, "I'm hurt, so I want to feel better," to, "This is going to hurt to dig out all the pain, but it will be worth it so I can heal and actually be better." When we go to the Lord as our emotional doctor, and the Bible as our emotional ER, then we are able to be fully healed. When Isaiah writes in Isaiah 53:5 that "by His wounds, we are healed," why do we think it's only our physical healing? God is our Jehovah Rapha--the God who heals--there isn't a caveat that says "Sorry, only physical healing." He can heal anything--physical or emotional. So let Him, because we can't stop the pain on our own.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Believing isn't Enough

If you've been around children any amount of time, you know just how gullible and naïve they are. Kids will readily believe anything, simply because you tell them it's true. Eyes bulge in awe as they say, "Really?" wanting to know more. Prime examples are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. This child-like wonder fades the older we get, and we no longer take things at face value. We lose our innocence, and we start to question what we are told.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3 that we need to become child-like in our faith in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. We need to believe in the Lord without all the complications life throws at us, which is hard to do. We go through hurt and rejection. We lose those we love; we experience life. We realize that head-knowledge is not heart-knowledge. It becomes less easy to just believe in the Lord's goodness. Through the rollercoaster of life, this verse reminds us to believe and be saved. Just believe.

In Acts 16, it seems it is just that simple--believe. The jailers asked Paul and Silas what they must do to be saved, and in verse 31, Paul responds, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." This verse makes it seem like the simple act of believing is all we need to do.

But it isn't quite so simple. It's not enough to simply believe. There are people who call themselves "Believers" instead of Christians. I get what they are trying to say--that they believe in Jesus; they believe in the gospel. They believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins. What I take issue with is that Satan was a "believer" too. He believed in Who Jesus was. He talked with Jesus in the desert. He knew (not merely believed) that Jesus is the King, the Holy One. Satan knows that Jesus tore the veil and conquered sin and grave.

So again, it is not enough to just believe. Going back to Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." The key word there is "change," which in some versions, it is translated as "converted." Although in Acts 16, it doesn't specifically say the jailers were "converted" or "changed," their subsequent actions following their decision to believe make it clear there was a change of heart--they practically helped Paul and Silas get out of jail.

Romans 10:9 gives it to us a little more clearly: "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." This scripture is the crux of salvation, which is that in addition to believing, we must also declare that Jesus is Lord. This is where Satan's belief veers away from ours. He refuses to declare that Jesus is Lord, and he refuses to submit himself to the Lord. These are two things we must do in order to "convert" or "change." We have to declare that Jesus is Lord. We have to allow Him to rule and reign over our lives. When we do that, we will turn away from our sinful lives, and we will be able to fully believe in Jesus and all of the promises God has given us in His Word. Do more than believe.