Here’s a guest post from a friend, Melanie Clark. She tells us how God intervened in a special way by healing her eye.
I am thankful that I could see the beauty in the places we went. (During a recent family vacation).
Nearly 8 years ago, I woke up to a red spot in the middle of my vision of my right eye. It got bigger, and everything started turning black. My eye doctor got me in immediately, and took a 3D scan of my eyeball, which showed bleeding into the retina. He immediately was able to get me an emergency appointment with a retinal specialist at Mercy (hospital), and I had hours of testing, an angiogram, all kinds of fun things. They determined macular hemorrhage – a blood vessel in the macula of my eyeball had burst.
While I was there, an older lady was told she was permanently losing her vision, and there was no cure. Her cries were heart-rendering, and I kept getting teary-eyed thinking about the possibility that I would no longer see my kids’ faces. How I cried out to God desperately to let me have sight, so I could watch my kids grow up.
My life group prayed earnestly with us, and God provided the miracle. The bleeding stopped, and the only damage was a slight squiggle in the center of my vision when I am looking at a computer screen.
A year after that, at my annual eye appointment, my doctor told me how lucky I was to have my vision. He told me another patient had the same exact thing, and permanently lost her vision, and the bleeding was starting in the other eye, too. Since then, I have heard of others who also lost vision.
God has not always answered all of my prayers. I have not always seen miracles. But this one is so precious to me. I thank God for my sight, to stare at my kids until they tell me to quit, to see the beauty of creation, and to give glory to God that something that we often take for granted, like being able to see, is something I can rejoice over on a daily basis.
Ministries morph and shift as the years go by. One which has taken a big part of my time recently has been responding to people who write the French ministry of Network 211, Reponses pour ta vie.com
We get all sorts of requests. Sometimes men will write, saying, “I want a woman.” Women might search for the perfect man. I’m tempted to write back to inform them that God doesn’t make perfect men anymore. My wife got the last one.
Most of the emails touch my heart. Here is a small sample of what I’ve been answering lately.
From France, “I would like Jesus to be with me. I only have bad things happening to me at the moment and I would like someone to be with me. I need to pray and someone to hear it. I am baptized but I have never participated in a mass, I would like to believe in God.
Also from France, “Hello, I am baptized and I never really asked myself questions about religion, but I want to know more, and why not? Practice it 🙂
A lady from Ukraine chimes in, “ I feel far from God. I want to be forgiven. I have sinned a lot. I also want to repent. I don’t know how. Help me, please.”
This from Congo, “For some time I have had a strong desire to be in a personal relationship with Jesus, to experience happiness with Him. But I haven’t succeeded yet. Through you, I hope to discover a very sure way (orientations).
From France—“Hello, I need to regain my intimacy with God. I let a lot of things destroy everything I started with God. Today I just want to come back to him and have that peace of heart that I had before times. I need help!”
These are a joy to answer.
One question I get over and over concerns prayer. “How do you pray? Can you send me some model prayers? Etc.” Honestly, I struggle like many others in my prayer life. I pray daily, but I often feel that I’m a man who prays more than a man of prayer.
Sometimes, I feel like I need to get my time in so God won’t be mad. And it’s tough. Just being honest. Happily, it’s not always like that. Occasionally it’s like heaven on earth. And frankly, the results are often marvelous even if I didn’t have overwhelming emotions when I prayed.
Recently, I’ve found a prayer rhythm that really builds me up. I thought I would share it with you.
I usually start with singing. I’ve got an old songbook I use, but I’ve also made my own songbook. I go online and find the lyrics of worship songs that really speak to me at the moment. I copy them into a file on my phone. So I might sing to the Lord, “Shout To the Lord,” or “I Speak Jesus,” or “Waymaker,” or whatever song helps me lift my praise to God that morning.
It doesn’t matter if my voice is angel-like or crow-like. As it passes into heavenly places, God’s Spirit changes it into audio-gold to the ears of God.
I also use the Psalms and read from one of them as a prayer to the Lord.
I’ve got a journal where I often write a prayer to the Lord expressing my praise, my needs or the cry of my heart.
And usually, during my praying, I’ll raise my voice and pray in the Spirit for a while. He knows how to praise God and He knows what to pray for when I don’t.
I still “freewheel,” praying extemporaneously, simply telling God what my needs are and asking Him to respond. Yes, and sometimes I ask for the same things over and over and over. I pester the Lord like the little widow pestered the uncaring judge.
The Amplified translation of Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.”
This version includes a note that says, “Here the use of Greek present imperatives (asking, seeking, knocking; vv 7, 8) emphasizes persistent, constant prayer.”
Asking more than once isn’t unbelief. It’s the prayer of someone who is sure that he or she is asking at the right place and they insist because they know the source of the answer is in God.
Kind of like your kids when they want something.
You may have your own prayer secrets or fruitful habits. If you want to share, I’d love for you to write and tell me your keys to fulfilling prayer.
Phyllis and I had a memorable experience about eight years ago when her heart, like the children of Israel, began to murmur.
Actually, it had murmured for a long time because the problem was a heart valve that was not quite right from birth. Since she’s a bit over 30, it had beat quite a few times and was wearing out.
Nice French surgeons replaced her heart valve with a valve from a calf. It has worked well. The only secondary effect she’s had is that when she burps she goes, “moo!”
Well, that’s all true but the “moo” part.
The truth is that she had a “time bomb” inside her chest and if she hadn’t had the valve replaced she might be dead now.
A hurt from the past.
Lots of us have “bombs” inside. They hurt and they change the way we live. Those pains from the past indicate something in us that must be dealt with if we’re going to live without limping.
Our pains from the past come from all kinds of sources—Secret abuse. Poverty that makes you feel less than someone else. Broken relationships. Comparison. Parent’s anger turned towards us. Parents living out their life through us. Parental clashes. Family disasters—job losses, major sicknesses. Racial prejudice.
Often it’s an inferiority complex that doesn’t seem to have a definite source. Many are born feeling this way.
And words! A friend was raised by her grandmother. She often heard, “You’re going to be just like your momma!” That wasn’t a compliment.
I don’t think these interior bombs are anything new. The more I study the life of King David the more I think there was something in his childhood that was painful. Some speculate that he was an illegitimate child (Ps. 51:5).
When the prophet commanded David’s dad to present his sons, he didn’t even call for David (1 Samuel 16:11). Why would he leave him out? His dad overlooked him as unimportant or maybe shameful. His oldest brother seemed to despise him. (1Sam 17:28-30). Did his birth bring shame on the family?
Some people react to rejection by living out the low opinion that others have of them. Yet David did the opposite. Shepherding wasn’t the most respected job on that society’s totem pole but David became the best shepherd he could be.
Everything he did, he did with excellence, with all his heart. God’s hand was on him and he became the “shepherd” of a nation. He led that nation to heights they had never known.
Everything David did proved those who doubted him WRONG!
That “time bomb” within him still ticked, though. And it eventually went off. Why would a man with too many wives steal someone else’s wife? Was he still searching for that love that his family never gave him?
Was that part of why he still loved his wicked son Absalom desperately, even after the arrogant young man tried to kill him and take his throne?
David was an incredible poet, musician, warrior and statesman. When you read some of his psalms, though, you suspect he may have struggled with depression.
How about you and me? Do we ever struggle with deep-seated pain from long ago?
How do we stop the hurt? Ostentatious materialism tries to cover the shame of the self-made man who grew up dirt poor. We shower stuff on our kids so that they can have what we didn’t have, but wanted.
Depression. People-pleasing. Looking down on others. On and on the negative solutions to pain continue.
What is God’s solution/healing for this?
First, see the problem. We don’t need Dr. Phil to tell us. The Holy Spirit probes deeply in us and shows us what He finds.
The we deal with it in God. Ground zero for David was his relationship with God. That’s why he didn’t fear Goliath. That’s why he acted in faith all through his life. David fell on his nose numerous times, but he always got up and dealt with it before God. Devour the Word. Pray. Pray with a prayer partner.
We need to realize that this may be something we battle our whole life. That’s not necessarily bad. We prefer a “one zap” healing and God does that sometimes.
Often, though, He does an “over-time healing.” I’ve noticed that there are victories that I win once for all and others I must win once every day. I prefer the first ones but I probably grow more through the “once every day” victories. By these, we understand different facets of what’s hurting us and they allow us to help others who are where we’ve been. Often that hurt we felt inspires us to do something to help those who hurt like us.
Some victories I win once for all and others I must win once every day.
John Piper said, “(Jesus) turned (Peter) around and forgave him and restored him and strengthened his faith. And now it was Peter’s mission to strengthen the other ten. “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
“Jesus provided for the ten by providing for Peter. The strengthened becomes the strengthener.”
Get help. Talking does help if you talk to the right people. Some are expert at defusing bombs. If you’re like me, write! My brain flutters like a batch of butterflies but writing down what’s going on inside helps me. Sometimes when I can hardly pray, I write my prayers. Sing! God doesn’t mind if your singing sounds more like braying. He comes and maybe He even sings with you.
Make a plan and follow through. Some get counseling and it does no good because they say, “Yes,” then continue to live the way they always have. Allow God’s Spirit to change you. Make it a priority.
Refuse a mediocre life or a life of hurting others. Believe that God is healing you.
Disarm that bomb and enter into the abundant life the Lord gives.
“A transition doesn’t have to be a crisis, unless we want it to.” Seth Godin
How many times have you gone to do something and as you were going you remembered that you needed to do something else? So you turned away to do that thing on the way to do the first thing and as you were going to do the second thing you remembered a third thing you needed to do, which you did. By then you forgot what you were going to do at first and then, well, it’s kind of confusing, isn’t it?
That’s why Internet is such a rabbit hole. We start looking for one thing and there are so many colorful butterflies flittering off in all directions–that we’re like the cowboy who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions chasing them.
Hang on to that thought.
A United Heart?
This morning I read something in the Bible and I thought, “What in the world does that mean?”
“… unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalms 86:11b—ESV) “Unite my heart,” what’s that about? Is my heart broken into pieces?
I think the NIV makes it clearer: “…give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” When my heart is dispersed in ten different directions, like I when I can’t remember what I was going to do at first, I don’t fear the Lord like I should. I don’t respect Him.
He’s not first in my life as He should be.
A divided heart loves the Lord but loves several other things as much as it loves God.
Loving Good Things
And they’re not necessarily sin. Lots of things vie for mastery in my heart: the Lord, family, work, sports, cookies, ice cream, money, church, people’s opinion of me, politics, television, Internet, etc. You add your own. It could be a person.
None of these is sin, unless they swell and take that central place that belongs to the Lord Jesus. But when that happens or when all of these things have equal value with the Lord in the way we spend our time and resources, we begin to lose respect for the Lord Jesus.
God-respect keeps our life centered. We desperately need it.
How Do You Know?
How do you know your heart is divided? When my grandson Matthew was little we played hide and seek. He ran to his room and hid. He was afraid I wouldn’t find him so once or twice I hear a “Woo, hoo,” coming from behind the door. In verse 12, God gives us a “woo hoo” to let us know the answer to my question. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” (Ps. 86:12 PDV 2017)
When you’re not thankful, you’re feeling entitled and you’re not getting everything you think is due you, you get mad about it. You’re probably suffering from a heart divided among lots of things. When real worship is hard for us, our heart is probably divided. Worship acknowledges that God is first and most important and that we’re not the center of the universe.
And, as I said, when you don’t respect the Lord as you should, your heart is probably divided.
How Do You Get Jesus Back At the Center?
The Ephesus church was full of hard-working, clean-living Christians. It’s just that their fervent love for the Lord Jesus had hardened into religion and they were in danger of losing their relationship with God.
They thought they could replace tears of love and commitment with doing a bunch of stuff and judging those who didn’t live up to standard.
Put yourself before the Lord. Is your heart divided? You love the Lord Jesus but you’re not passionate about serving Him. You’re passionate about politics. You’re passionate about Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and good restaurants. You’re passionate about your family. A person. Or your job. Or the Green Bay Packers. (Notice I didn’t say the Dallas Cowboys.)
All that is good but anything that keeps Jesus from being first in your life is an idol. Nothing claims equal billing with Him. God says to this Ephesian church that outwardly seems to have it all together, “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!
“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.” (Revelation 2:4, 5 The Message).
Is your heart united or divided?
Hmmm … “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.” (A. W. Tozer, the Pursuit of God)
David Porter combines 50 years of ministry in North America and Europe with a humorously serious outlook on life. His passion is a spirituality that acts in daily life. You can subscribe to this blog or make a comment by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
My oldest son, Steve’s first teaching job was at a school for abused children. Leadership told him, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Some of these abused children grow up to be abusers themselves.
Trying to save a drowning person could get you drowned.
We’re often dangerous to others when we are hurting. You men, when your wife is pregnant, agree with her. She’s dangerous. If she says 2 + 2 equals 10, you reply, “I always thought that.”
Don’t tease her about her weight or how she walks. If you do, you deserve what happens to you.
Agree with her. She is right. Always!
Everyone Deals With Hurt
Every one of us has been hurt. No exceptions. How you react to that hurt or brokenness determines a large part of the quality of the life in our heart and between our ears.
I don’t think the goal for those who love Jesus should simply be healing from hurt. We need to live from a place of redeemed brokenness. Are you living out of your pain or God’s work in that pain, redeeming it and changing it into a vessel of blessing?
When you live out of your unhealed hurt there is:
–A constant low-level pain. We can’t forget what happened and it eats at us. We lash out to protect ourselves or to get even. The people we strike at aren’t usually the people who hurt us. Anger!
–Constantly a “limp”, not from a healed wound but a hurting wound. When I was a kid I stepped on a thorn and pulled it out. I thought. The foot remained sore and got infected. Finally mama “operated” and found the head of the thorn still in the foot. When it came out I got well.
–Our vision of the future is colored/compromised by the past and our thoughts are constantly drawn behind us instead of living in the moment and hope of the future. If we’re not careful our hurt becomes our identity and without it we don’t really have a reason for living. It we’ve suffered a great loss, a period of mourning is natural and healthy. But one day we begin to live again. There will always be a scar but scars are healed hurts.
It’s different when God touches you life and you begin to live out of “healed hurt”:
–There is understanding. “I’ve been there. I’ve hurt like that. Still do sometimes.” I can minister by identifying. The word compassion comes from Latin. It means to “suffer with.” A healed hurt gives you the ability to understand and identify with another’s suffering.
–There is power. I believe God’s power that healed us stays with us and we can use it to heal others, especially those who go through what we are going through. I went through a terrible experience when I was a teenager. More than once as a pastor, I’ve listened to people tell me about going through the same experience. I was able to counsel with the word that God gave me and pray with real fervor because I felt their pain. There is connection.
–I think this hurt is parallel to the Cross. Jesus identifies with us because He was there. I felt He spoke to me once from Isaiah 53 and said that when I hurt He felt the very same pain that I feel. He carried our sins, sorrows, afflictions, sicknesses and pains on the cross. Tell Him about yours. He already carried it for you. He knows.
No Excuse For Hurting Others.
Your pain might be the reason you hurt others but there is no excuse for hurting others. Get help. Get healed.
How do you get healed? (Easier said than done, huh?)
–We admit we need healing. Doctors can help those who don’t come to them.
–You come to the Lord Jesus. You let Him redeem your heart and life. He heals, not only from sin but also sickness, doubt, pain. It starts here.
–There is power in the “cross process.” (Eph. 1:19) I’m not against psychology and counseling at all but there is a limit. With the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus working in our life there is no limit to the healing and redemption of our hurts.
–Every day we look into His glory. ( 2 Cor. 3:18). He changes us daily. Sanctification should be in process for everyone of us.
–We use the healing processes He put in place. We find a Christian friend to talk with, a mature Christian to talk with, even a professional to talk with, especially if this counselor is a Christian.
–We become a channel of healing to others. It’s so easy to spend our lives gazing at our belly button. “Poor me.” Do something! Quit griping. Quit waiting for someone to choose you for something great. Choose yourself. Do something! God’s Spirit has already chosen you.
–We get in his Word and prayer. You might respond, “I don’t have time to pray or read the Word.” You know what? I walked 500 miles. That’s the equivalent of walking from Springfield, MO. to Chicago, IL. Did I mention that I didn’t do that in one day? It was usually about 2 ½ miles four or five days per week for a year.
If you read the Bible 10 minutes a day each day of the year you will have spent 60 hours in the Word! 60 hours! Same for prayer. I call it the ten-minute revival. Anyone who doesn’t have 10 minutes (or two times ten minutes) is WAY too busy and will probably soon drop dead from a heart attack.
If we feel it’s important we will do it, won’t we? And if it’s not important, we’ll just surf the Internet some more or binge watch something ignorant.
Let’s get before God, let Him heal our hurts and them let Him redeem those scars so that they are a blessing to others.
“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” A. W. Tozer