Monday, January 29, 2007

The God I Love

The Pool of Bethesda...a place of hope, where Jesus healed many who were sick and crippled. In Joni Eareckson Tada's book, The God I Love, she describes a trip with her husband to that pool. For many years, she had dreamed of traveling to see this very pool. She also petitioned God for many years to heal her paralysis inflicted body. But God had other ideas for her life.
"I leaned on my arm against the guardrail. I whispered, "And now...after thirty years...I'm here...I made it. Jesus didn't pass me by. He didn't overlook me. He came my way and answered my prayer - He said no.

"Lord, your no answer to physical healing meant yes to a deeper healing - a better one. Your answer has bound me to other believers and taught me so much about myself. It's purged sin from my life, it's strengthened my commitment to you, forced me to depend on your grace. Your wiser, deeper answer has stretched my hope, refined my faith, and helped me to know you better. And you are good. You are so good."
Reading about Joni Earekson Tada's saga has greatly encouraged and inspired me. While I'm not wheelchair-bound, I do suffer from a chronic illness that robs me of energy and many physical activities. Because of this, I am often pleading with God to remove this illness from me and make me well. So far, He has yet to do that. I have two ways I can react to His reply: I can grow bitter and angry towards God and become upset that He hasn't healed me or I can look at it the way Joni does. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I can clearly see that God is healing me in various ways. Sure, my healing may not come in a physical form but in a spiritual sense.

In reality, Joni's principle is true for all of us. Most of you may not suffer from a chronic illness or be paralyzed, but all of us have petitions we send upward to the throne of God. Sometimes God chooses to answer those, sometimes He doesn't. Oftentimes we relate an answer to prayer with something happening in the physical realm, but God's healing is often unseen by our natural eye and sensed only by our spirit. Psalm 66:20 says,
"Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!"
God knows exactly what we need to live. He knows the number of the hairs on our heads, He calls the sparrows by name, and His love for us is as wide as the sky and as deep as the oceans. The next time you offer a prayer up to Heaven and things aren't going according to your prayer or your plan, I challenge you to look deeper and see if God is doing something bigger and greater in your heart.

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