Saturday, July 16, 2011

Victories: Restored

Now may God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you believe, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

What does it take to come to Jesus for healing? When we see the heartaches around us, it is obvious that although Jesus is the answer for every struggle, all too often He is the last resort. Our reaction to suffering is to find a way to end it. Sometimes perhaps we even lift the very weight that may have pressed a hurting soul to Christ. While scripture calls us to be the hands and feet of Christ, our loving must always point only to Jesus Christ. As I wait for a personal, 21st century victory story, I thought perhaps a visit to a first century victory would encourage all of us.

Throughout scripture, we find instruction on needs—and God’s solutions. The woman with the issue of blood in the New Testament offers great insights. The life is in the blood…and her life was continually seeping away. Ostracized from society—a source of contamination for all she contacted--even going to the market would have been impossible. A spouse—even a close friend—who would share her pain was but a distant memory. The isolation and shame of her circumstances were clearly intense. As we consider her experience—the realities of her life, the emotions she would likely have felt and the reactions of others—we can readily see that same reality played out around us daily. Eternal life ebbs away daily in souls held captive by the disease of sin.

Hidden diseases exist long before they grow into life-destroyers; the progression of disease is step-by-step. Chains wrap around souls unseen and unfelt until the prisoner is tightly bound. Shame from self-incrimination and the judgment of others hold the chains fast. Unhealed hurts are especially painful for Christians who fall prey to Satan’s arrows of guilt that they are not trusting Jesus enough. They know all about desperately seeking solutions—usually self-initiated to-do lists, self-powered solutions; and sometimes superstitious, even ridiculous efforts. Research indicates the woman in scripture would probably have followed the Talmudic instructions to find healing: instructions such as locating a barleycorn from the feces of a white, female donkey or carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg. Our modern-day desperate souls have tried equally futile solutions.

In our heroine, underlying the disease and its results of loneliness, fear, shame and guilt was hope-filled courage. Only someone with courageous hope would risk the humiliation of public rejection that was probable for an unclean person daring to enter a crowd and touch a revered teacher. The burden of her situation propelled her to risk it all in an audacious attempt for healing. Whether her faith was in Christ or his clothes is a moot point—Jesus met her where she was at and gave her more than she sought. Ignoring the discomfort she felt with His insistence on coming forward, Jesus called her into relationship with Him. Physical healing was accompanied by restored fellowship—with Himself and others. That is our God: the one who does immeasurably more than we can ask or think!

Courage and hope were necessities for our heroine—necessities for any who would seek victory through Christ. It is that hope we must continually seek to instill in hearts—our own and others. Healing is often uncomfortable; but every victory inspires more courage and more victories. How has Jesus drawn you closer? Encourage another by sharing your victory.

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