Monday, May 05, 2008

Gut Reaction

I've been dealing with chronic stomach problems for the last several months. I've been annointed for each issue and have prayed for God's healing. I truly do believe what James says in the 5th chapter of his letter about going to God's elders and trusting in Him to heal me. In fact, I saw someone else immediately relieved of some intense pain in my own home just last week after getting annointed. I've also done my due diligence on the web in research, visited several doctors about some of my shorter- and long-term problems. I'm trying to establish both a possible direction to take for a cure as well as determining what to pray for God to heal.

Sickness of any kind isn't fun. These particular problems are especially frustrating because it's really not all that painful, but nothing is quite right. And most of my symptoms could point to, or eventually cause bigger problems if not corrected. In fact, I still have no idea of the cause. All of this comes at a time when doctors are finding the latest in antibiotic-resistant strains of an old microbe commonly found in the stomach and intestines that causes many of the same problems as I have.

I state all of this for a couple of reasons... First, I don't have a problem with doctors and what they try to do. But obviously, they can't heal major organs, have difficulty with the bacterial world, don't fully understand how the brain and attitude affect health, and so on. They can't even diagnose many problems today. But when they can, doctors are helpful and can extend life beyond what may have been possible decades ago. Pharmeceuticals are both a blessing and a curse. They promise to cure you at the same time have some side effects and interactions with other medicines that can be worse than the original complaint. Case in point, it's possible that antibiotics and a medical procedure I had a few moons ago may have very well caused my current ailments.

Second, I trust God. I believe that I have the faith of Jesus Christ working with me, helping me to believe in the Father more and more every day. I've seen and heard of miracles and, as the Apostle John tells his audience over and over again in his gospel, he hopes that we believe more strongly as a result.

But then some doubts hit me... Questions and thoughts arise in my mind like, "Didn't Jesus heal to help people believe in His ministry, and as a result, His Father, to follow Him? Wasn't He doing it to establish His Church, or act as a witness against those who still wouldn't believe in spite of great works?" Or, "The pattern seems to go that God only heals those in dire situations or those needing more faith at a rough time in their lives." Or, "Mr. Armstrong had so many healings because God was raising up the Philadelphia era of the Church, yet tells us to 'hang on' in this age because we will have little strength (perhaps meaning miraculous power)." Or, "God, even though I totally know he can heal, hasn't healed several chronically ill people I know lately. Perhaps He's waiting for a time closer to the Tribulation or the Kingdom, itself."

But James 5:14-15 comes back and slaps me upside the head. Perhaps the early 20th-century Church was successful for other reasons. Perhaps people had more faith back in Jesus' and the apostles day. Then I have to think about what an annointing really is. It's total submission to God and His government. It's us, once again, surrendering our will in exchange for His. Even if God has chosen not to heal me or others at this time, it doesn't mean He's not fulfilling His purpose in us.

One of my biggest attributes is I'm a problem-solver, and I like to think and work quickly to get stuff figured out. The down side to this trait is I get impatient with a lack of results, but doggedly press on. With your stomach, however, as my wife continually reminds me, steadiness, diligence and patience are key. Whereas I'm changing my diet, moving onto some new theory as to what's broken, adding stress each week this goes on, realizing that stress isn't helping, slowly relaxing from that stress, wondering and pondering why diligence has to take so stinkin' long. Is waiting only going to allow some more terrible illness I have but don't know about continue to eat me up?

Finally, I realized that I really wasn't putting this whole problem fully in God's capable hands. Similar to detaching my entire abdomen, handing it to Him and saying, "Here, see what you can do with this." Of course, I really wish that I could do that, physically-speaking. What stinks is that some of us are really hands-on folks who have a can-do attitude about everything and that makes it difficult to allow God to tackle our problems for us. "Oh, don't worry about that, God, I'll handle it." Others trust that only doctors and physical medicines, potions, herbs, spas and chiropractors can fix them. Many tend to believe any competent-sounding person claiming to have a cure. Well, they very well could, but perhaps it's best to allow God to lead you to the right cure and sit tight while He does. Other times, in the case of especially difficult times that lie ahead when doctors won't know what to do, we will only be able to rely on God to save us.

But we read that God's yoke is easy and His burden is light. Right now, my burden is feeling heavier than I'd prefer it be. Recognizing I'm trying to do this all on my own is the first step, and trust me, I've pretty much ignored it for a long time. "Yes, I know we need faith." Okay, act on it. "Okay, I believe STRONGER." No, quit trying to do everything yourself. Surrender. Hand it over.

I truly believe that I could learn to apply this in every avenue of my life: relationships, character-building, finances, parenting... And as it turns out, in many areas where I have succeeded, that's what I've been doing. Don't worry about finding that job, God will provide. Don't even think about how you'll get out of this situation, God is 5,000 steps ahead of you, so you should wait for His answer. Search for the lesson in this trial, God's placed one in there for you somewhere. Place my whole being, and everything that comes with it, in God's hands.

My stomach's not better yet, but this has certainly put it more at ease.

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