In the valley

I have always veered on the side of ‘rebuke everything, don’t accept it, give it no room and be positive’. Jude (daughter) mocks me saying that as kids they were simply never allowed to be sick! I am glad for being that stubborn and equally glad that over the years literally many hundreds have found healing. One of the most unusual healings was a woman who kept looking at her hands. I was not sure what was causing her the amazement, then I found out that she was staring in amazement as she had for the first time finger prints. A remarkable sign, going beyond something physical – a restoration of identity.

As a convinced charismatic I am glad to push for healing and the intervention of heaven. There are many reasons for that – the Scriptures give an expectation for this; Paul – if his thorn in the flesh was some kind of physical impairment – pushed for intervention and a reversal UNTIL he heard God speak into the situation. That voice was so real he does not use a simple past tense but one that indicates what he heard is still audible when he wrote years later. He did not need to push forward to hear God say ‘pray for a reversal’. He went for the positive and only a word from heaven could cause him to let go of that. When there was a non-answer (twice) he pushed again. It was not ‘non-healing’ that stopped him praying, but a word from God. All the above helps me be ready to press for the intervention and not be put off when something does not shift as I wish.

However… and the however is not to cancel out the previous perspective but to add to it. In so pushing for the breakthrough we can miss out on the journey. God will be to us something during the process when there is no answer (as we wish) that he will not be when the answer (as we wish) comes. Here is the tension, if we so focus on the outcome we can miss out.

When we are through the situation God is our deliverer and thankfully there is a testimony. But when we are in it, we find a God who shows up in the midst of our inadequacy, who does not show up with the victorious ones, but alongside the conflicted, and sometimes despairing ones. We all handle those times of frustration differently. I know of those who will resort to sounding off with a good (or bad?) handful of expletives thrown in. For those people, they can discover a God who comes alongside – and this is not a theological perspective – and is happy not simply to listen to us but to swear alongside us too! The God we find in Jesus is REAL, and ‘moved into our neighbourhood’.

There is a testimony that we love to hear – the ‘God healed me, set me free’ kind of testimony. There is also the testimony that goes along the lines of ‘I am not through this, I am despairing, I am so frustrated, I don’t always feel good about myself… but I can tell you about an intimacy with the God who gets as frustrated as I do.’ A kind of paraphrase of Heb. 11, or a reflection of Psalm 23:

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

God present in the valley not simply showing up when we are out of it. To be out is wonderful, but to find God in is permanent and humbling. One might just leave us knowing the acts of God, the other goes so much deeper.

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