Doubt

Standard

I have been considering writing this for a few months now but felt discouraged and fearful that my words weren’t actually from God, then on Sunday in church the sermon was about the same thing so I decided to go for it.

I am a critical thinker, it’s in my DNA, it’s part of my personality, that’s just how I am. I have to figure things out, if I feel something is unanswered or illogical, I often can’t let it rest until I figure it out. This caused me to feel a lot of shame in my relationship with God because I found myself doubting and asking questions. I couldn’t seem to just accept the truth of the Bible without first dissecting it and figuring out everything it could mean. Questions hidden in shame grew to be doubt, I doubted that God existed or loved me. I doubted truth because of the way it was twisted throughout history with the purpose of humans controlling other humans. I thought, “it makes so much more sense  for religion to be a man made thing.” (which is true I suppose, and Jesus didn’t seem to be a fan of religion… see Matthew 23).

During these doubting time, God loved me tenderly, God waited patiently, God reminded me of when I first experienced Him. Joy, inexplainable joy; peace steady enough to calm all fear. JOY and PEACE, this is what I turn to when I doubt, I remember when my God in all of His glory wrapped himself in dirty, painful human flesh just to give me joy. I remember how Jesus suffered humiliation and death on a cross to give me peace. I remember the joy that overtook me when I called on Him. So faithful, so steadfast, he answered tenderly with abundant joy. dang.

Though I have been walking with Jesus for almost 7 years now, I find myself questioning and doubting. I am thankful that I have learned whenever I am questioning I can whine and complain to the God of the universe, that I don’t have to hide my own unfaithfulness from the bridegroom. During one of these times of whining and complaining, I expressed my guilt to God, that I wasn’t being a “good” Christian, that I was doubting him. He responded tenderly but still full of truth. He revealed to me that doubting does not show lack of faith. He allowed me to see that by exploring our doubts and not hiding from them or hiding them from other people, we strengthen our faith. If we believe that God is the truth, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. He also showed me that acting in faith during times of doubt pleases Him. Walking with Jesus when we doubt him shows strong faith.

I say all of this with one goal: to encourage you to ask questions. Dive deep into what you believe, Christian or not, and figure it out for yourself, take ownership of it. Don’t hold on to something you are afraid to question.

Jehovah Rapha pt. 3

Standard

Over Spring Break while in Canyonlands there was one day when the rest of my group went on a day hike and I decided to stay at the campsite to spend a day completely alone with Jesus. Here I am, perched on the top of a canyon, completely surrounded by God’s beauty. I was simultaneously surround by God’s goodness and His power; while I was breathing in the beauty I also realized that I was completely alone in the middle of the wilderness. During this time I began reading Jesus the King by Timothy Keller. In chapter 3, The Healing, he talks about the story in the bible where the paralyzed man’s friends lower him through the roof in order to get him to Jesus. They knew Jesus was capable of healing and they were willing to break down walls (and roofs) in order to get their friend to Jehovah Rapha.

Mark 2:3-5 says:
“And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”

I had never noticed how odd it is that Jesus’ response is “Your sins are forgiven”. These men have gone to such great lengths to bring their friend to Jesus because they know that he is capable of the impossible and they want him to make their paralyzed friend walk again. I can imagine them standing their in anticipation, wondering what Jesus is going to say, waiting expectantly to see their friend walk, waiting to see a miracle. I wonder what they were thinking when Jesus didn’t say, “You are now healed of your disease.” Of course we know that the story goes on and Jesus says to the paralyzed man “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (Mark 2:11). The man is healed, everyone is amazed, and they all go home.

When I think of this story, I think of how I met Jesus and started building a relationship with Him after I became sick. When I got sick there were so many people around me, picking me up, breaking through roofs and placing me at the feet of Jesus asking for my healing and Jesus responded, “Daughter, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus achieved the impossible, he performed a miracle and rescued me from darkness. Tim Keller explains Jesus’ reaction saying, “Jesus is saying to him. ‘I understand your problems. I have seen your suffering. I’m going to get to that. But please realize that the main problem is a person’s life is never his suffering; it’s his sin.’” The biggest problem God we have on Earth is the fact that we are separated from God, this is the ultimate healing Jesus did; Jehovah Rapha healed the chasm between us and God.

When I got sick, Jesus didn’t respond to prayers the my family or I would have expected, but it is so much better. Jesus said, “I want to take you deeper than you could even imagine. I want you to know me so well that my desires are your desires. I want you to be so filled with my Spirit that your physical condition is not determinant of your joy.” I am so thankful that God healed my greatest wound before he started the physical healing process. I am so thankful that this is not the end of the story, that Jesus indeed says, “Get up and walk”.

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Jehovah Rapha pt. 2

Standard

In a recent turn of events I began doubting God’s promise of healing. I began questioning God’s will for my life and the promises he’s revealed to me. In the midst of a busy week at school, I finally sat down to read the Bible. Jesus greeted me with this statement from Mark 6, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

What joy, what truth. I am in awe of the tender love and compassion God shows His children.

Mark 5:24-34 reads:

“And a great crowd followed him [Jesus] and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch only his garments, I will be made well.’ And immediately the flow of the blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’’ And he looked around to see who had done it, but the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

When I read this I cannot help but place myself in the story. I think of all of the time, energy and money that has been spent seeking a diagnosis and treatment and how many of these endeavors have only left me with more symptoms and feeling defeated. I think of all the times doctors have treated me with such disrespect or apathy. I think of the ways I have been isolated from society, rejected and felt as if I was just a burden. And Jesus lifts me up, looks me in the eye and calls me daughter, he says “I love you and am working all things together for your good. Healing is coming, reach out for me in faith.”

Now that I have arrived at a place where I have exhausted the medical treatments available and there is still such uncertainty around the physiology of what is happening in my body, I find rest that my God is the great healer, he is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.

“How great is the love of the Father, that we may be called sons and daughters. And that is what we are!”
1 John 3:1

Jehovah Rapha pt. 1

Standard

About 2 years ago I was in the hospital on TPN, unable to walk or eat. During the worst time I wondered if I would live and as I improved I wondered if I would ever walk or eat again. Gradually my functionality began to return but I doubted heavily I would ever live a “normal” life, that I would ever graduate high school or attend college. Today, I am in my second semester of college out-of-state, taking 18 hours, serving as a Wyldlife leader, and just finished roadtripping/backpacking through Utah and Arizona. God is cool.

While in Zambia, God introduced himself as “Jehovah Rapha” to me. Jehovah Rapha means “The God Who Heals” and serving across the world in Zambia just one year after being paralyzed, I was without any doubt that he was a God who heals. I have never doubted God’s ability to heal but I have always found myself praying for God’s will to be done; I don’t want an agenda, I don’t want earthly desires getting in the way. This way of thinking has significantly helped me to stay positive and see the good in seemingly hopeless situations. By praying for God’s will to be done I am opening myself up to healing but I am also allowing myself to be apart of the things God is doing while I am sick. Having this prayer for 6 years has taught so much about God’s character: His Goodness, His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His mystery.

In September I attended a Younglife leader retreat. One night during worship I sat down to pray, as I often do. As I began praying, my prayers quickly turned to “God, Your will be done.”, immediately, God responded “Healing is coming”.

This promise has stuck, I see evidence so often of this promise being fulfilled. I struggle with the days when this promise seems so far off but rejoice in the ways God continues to mold and teach me.

In the next few posts I will be going into more detail about how God is fulfilling this in my life.

 

 

Jessy

Standard

IMG_1711

Jessy is 8 years old and lives in the Garden compound of Lusaka, Zambia. Jessy Lives with her mom and 2 siblings. She doesn’t go to school but both of her siblings do. The first time we talked to Jessy it was obvious something was bothering her at home but she wouldn’t tell us. Later in the week we found out her older sister beats her up to the point where she is scared to be at home. Jessy said she eats once a day and wants to be a nurse when she is older, her mom is a hairdresser. Jessy is very quiet but gives so much love. When we would be playing, she would sort of just follow behind the other girls and I. When I would give her my undivided attention she thrived though! When we asked Jessy what we could pray for, she asked that we pray that she will be able to go to school. This isn’t unusual, the kids in Lusaka know that an education is their only chance and they all desperately want that chance. With the epidemic levels of HIV/AIDS in Zambia (the 7th highest in the world), it is imperative that children, especially girls, get an education. To learn more about the Legacy Academies (formerly known as Lifeway Christian Academy), visit: http://familylegacy.com/our-ministries/fathers-heart-sponsorship/lifeway-christian-academies/ . Also, consider watching the documentary “Girl Rising” (it is available on Netflix) to learn more about the impact of education girls in poverty. The Legacy Academies provide the best education in all of Lusaka, the beautiful thing is you can only go if you are poor and orphaned, essentially. Children attending the Legacy Academies receive a nutrition, hot lunch every day at school. To learn more about Father’s Heart sponsorships please visit: http://familylegacy.com/our-ministries/fathers-heart-sponsorship/ . For $44 a month, a sponsorship completely changes the life of these orphans, especially the girls. I sponsor a girl right now (on a poor college student’s budget) and it really is not difficult, but meeting her and seeing the difference in her photograph after just a year of going to school makes it 100% worth it. To sponsor Jessy please visit: https://web.familylegacy.com/give/ambassadors/58777 and click on “Jessica Mushanga”.

Natasha

Standard

IMG_1714
Natasha is a SPUNKY 4 year old (the kids don’t really know their age because they don’t know their birthday but I’m guessing she’s 5 or 6 though the website says she’s 8 which seems way too old because she’s really little!) Natasha lives in the Garden compound of Lusaka, Zambia with her grandmother and says she is happy at home though she constantly gets sick (with a headache and stomach ache) and her older sister beats her up everyday. Natasha eats once a day and her grandmother sells things in the market. When I say “the market” it sounds like a quaint little farmer’s market but these markets are full of prostitutes, trash, drunk men, and stray dogs. Many people who sell in the market only make enough to pay back the cost of production. Natasha made me laugh constantly and I miss her so much. She didn’t speak a word of English but while at camp she picked up the word “again” so that I would pick her up and spin her around over and over again. She would also tap me on the shoulder and say “Madame! Madame!” and when I turned around she would start tweaking for me (it was really impressive) and she was absolutely OBSESSED with my GoPro, she thought it was the coolest thing. Orphans aren’t exactly “potty trained” so Natasha had a problem with wetting herself, as in everyday I would pick her up and her pants were wet. When I asked her what she wanted to be when she is older she said “muzungu” which means “white person” in Nyanja. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…

IMG_1679

When we asked Natasha what we could pray for, she asked that we pray that she will be able to go to school. This isn’t unusual, the kids in Lusaka know that an education is their only chance and they all desperately want that chance. With the epidemic levels of HIV/AIDS in Zambia (the 7th highest in the world), it is imperative that children, especially girls, get an education. To learn more about the Legacy Academies (formerly known as Lifeway Christian Academy), visit: http://familylegacy.com/our-ministries/fathers-heart-sponsorship/lifeway-christian-academies/ . Also, consider watching the documentary “Girl Rising” (it is available on Netflix) to learn more about the impact of education girls in poverty. The Legacy Academies provide the best education in all of Lusaka, the beautiful thing is you can only go if you are poor and orphaned, essentially. Children attending the Legacy Academies receive a nutrition, hot lunch every day at school. To learn more about Father’s Heart sponsorships please visit: http://familylegacy.com/our-ministries/fathers-heart-sponsorship/ . For $44 a month, a sponsorship completely changes the life of these orphans, especially the girls. I sponsor a girl right now (on a poor college student’s budget) and it really is not difficult, but meeting her and seeing the difference in her photograph after just a year of going to school makes it 100% worth it. To sponsor Natasha please visit: https://web.familylegacy.com/give/ambassadors/58777 and click on “Natasha Mwanza”.

IMG_1733

That’s Natasha in the pink pants being… Natasha.

To the Orphan Who Hugged Me

Standard

IMG_2127It’s Monday, I look around awkwardly trying to find the girls who will be my campers. You see me, some random “muzunga”, and you run into my arms. I do not know you, but I look down and your eyes are full of life, all of your crooked teeth are exposed in the most beautiful smile. You are radiant. I just drove through your home, safely from the inside of a bus, separated, actively trying not to gawk at the poverty you and so many others live in and now you are in my arms. You just gave me the courage, the confidence, and the strength to conquer this week. You see, before you ran into my unsuspecting arms, I was caught in my own mind, I was caught in my own world like I am so many times; I was caught in my own mind and my anxieties were growing, they were piling up in messy stacks, merging together into an unrecognizable beast. The anxieties grew until you came and toppled them over by giving a simple hug to a stranger. For some reason you are excited to see me, but I am so excited to see you. For some reason you trust me, but I trust you too. You hold on and I pick you up. You look into my eyes and I desperately try to say “You are so dearly loved” by looking back in yours. Eventually you find the group you were assigned to and I find mine, we separate for the rest of the week. You will never know the impact you had on me. Thanks.

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has even seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:11-12