What if the pain doesn’t go away! Part Two
December 21, 2014
WHAT IF THE PAIN DOESN’T GO AWAY!
Part 2 of 3
If you are suffering from pain you will typically hear three reasons for your pain which are meant to adequately explain why you are suffering. And, once you hear and accept these reasons, they should bring you immediate comfort. Right!
First, God wants to heal you. Therefore, if you are suffering from pain there must be something wrong with you. This is always very helpful to know because it means that as soon as I figure out what is wrong and take steps to correct it God has to heal me. Makes sense to me.
Second, this is from God and it is your cross to bear. Just like Paul this is your thorn in the flesh and it will work for your greater good. (You know, I hear that one a lot, it seems to be a favorite.) So God is going to make you bear this physical pain to build your character. I know from first hand experience that God can take whatever circumstances we find ourselves in and bring good out of those circumstances. But I don’t believe He causes things to happen which bring pain in order to make you a better person.
Until this accident, for most of my life I have been very healthy. I did not have to deal with any chronic sickness or pain and therefore I had little empathy for people who were dealing with it. However, all of that changed as a result of a skiing accident. I now have a better understanding and empathy for those who have pain, which they can do nothing about. I have watched how in my own life God has brought some good out of this debilitating accident. However, I find it difficult to believe that God will not heal me because He wants to further refine my character. This way of thinking is not only discouraging but brings a sense of hopelessness. A pain filled future is not very appealing.
This type of thinking also affects how I pray for others. If I believe that the reason they are suffering is because God is building their character, isn’t it presumptuous on my part to pray for them to be healed? I heard a man once say, “If I treated my children like this I would be arrested for child abuse.” Honestly, would I use pain to build character when there are better ways to build character?
Third, this is suffering which you must accept because God is using this to teach you something. (Hey I’m listening God, what are you trying to teach me!) This one is especially demoralizing since you often have no clue as to what God is trying to teach you. It logically follows that the sooner you figure out what He is trying to teach you the sooner you will be healed. The problem is He rarely reveals what He is trying to teach you. If you were going to teach me something it would be helpful if you revealed to me what you are trying to teach me. Chances are I won’t get it if you don’t. This too is always uplifting and encouraging.
For most of us these three reasons are easy to give to someone else. But, if you are the one living in pain, these are the last things you want to hear. I have no doubt that perhaps there are times these statements are true, but I believe we unthinkingly speak them and expect the person suffering, once having heard our wise counsel, to accept their lot in life and move on. It’s sort of like when someone comes to you needing food and shelter and you say, “the Lord bless you and fill you my friend,” and you send them on their way without any food or shelter. What good is this?
WELL MEANING FRIENDS
In my twenty-year journey with pain I have heard all of these statements. Believe me when I say that they do not help. Moreover, I know that I am not alone in this journey. We need to be more sensitive to those in pain when we throw these statements around as if they are the last word from God. These words can and often do, cause deep wounding.
Over the years I have on occasion needed prayer for the anger I’ve felt towards others due to the emotional and spiritual abuse I’ve suffered at their hands. Admittedly, this was often unintentional and misguided help, but nevertheless it happened. Those of us in pain can suffer much emotional wounding as a result of being prayed for or given “Godly counsel” by well meaning but misguided “friends”.
I know this is a journey that is walked by many people, but I am in the healing ministry and logically it would seem that God would want me to be healed. What I do in full time ministry is travel around the world and conduct prayer seminars and healing conferences using our training manual Learning To Do What Jesus Did: How to Pray for Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Healing. I pray for people to be healed and a number of them are healed. Obviously if someone should be healed it would be me. What better example for God to use than me, right? Wrong!
Not only do I have to deal with the constant pain from the injury but also I occasionally wrestle with the tough questions regarding my own lack of healing. Questions which quite naturally arise as a result of spending much of my time praying for people dealing with a variety of physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Pain from which God heals them! There is also puzzlement over the fact that when I pray for people for extended periods of time my hands often throb with pain long after I am finished praying.
PAIN BRINGS DESPERATION
We know that pain brings desperation. Chronic pain can cause one to do stupid things. You may have a fairly high pain threshold. But even at that you can come to the point where you are willing to try anything to make the pain go away. This includes allowing yourself to be prayed for by some very unorthodox people. Their style and approach to prayer is a little over the edge for you but because of your desperation you are willing to try anything. Often the result is not spiritual or physical healing but spiritual abuse.
Let me share an example of spiritual abuse, which I have found to be quite common. I’ll call him Alex. I was attending a pastor’s prayer retreat and one afternoon we set aside time to pray for each other. In the process of sharing my needs I asked for prayer for the pain I was experiencing in my hands as a result of the injury to the nerves in my neck. As all the pastors gathered around me to pray, Alex, being the gregarious, get in and get after it fellow that he is, grabs my head with both hands and begins to loudly petition God to heal my neck; proclaiming all doubt to be cast away, and citing all of the scriptures that seem to indicate that if you name it, believe it, claim it, loud enough and long enough it’s going to happen. While he is doing this with his hands on my head he is turning and twisting my head and neck with no concern that he might be doing even further injury in his enthusiasm to get me healed! The most incredible part is that I sit and let this happen! Did I say earlier that pain brings desperation?
After the “healing prayer” I immediately got up to leave. I needed to get outside and take a walk. I felt violated and found myself becoming angry over what had just taken place. Also, in some strange way I felt as if I had failed, but I was not even sure in what way. I know intellectually that was not the case but that’s how I felt. As I walked down the road I became increasingly angry at what had just happened to me. As I later thought back on this incident, the only way I could explain allowing this to go on was that I was so desperate for healing and relief from the pain that I was willing to let anyone who could pray, try anything! When this was all over, the pain was still there. In fact it increased as the hours went by due to the irritation to the nerves caused by this twisting and turning of my neck.
I felt as if I had been spiritually raped. Later that evening I found myself still angry over what had been done to me and that I had allowed myself to be subjected to that insanity. How could I have been so stupid? When I left the retreat and headed home I was angry with Alex and I felt betrayed by my brothers in ministry who didn’t stop this nonsense. Soon I was asking, “God, how could you have let this happen?” Now I had to deal with anger, not only towards Alex, but my brothers, God and myself. It took some time but fortunately I did get the anger dealt with.
What if the pain doesn’t go away! Part One
What if the pain doesn’t go away! Part Three
What if the pain doesn’t go away! Part One
December 9, 2014
WHAT IF THE PAIN DOESN’T GO AWAY!
Part 1 of 3
How do you handle chronic physical pain that hurts every hour of every day? Or, what if you have a life-threatening disease like cancer that has been prayed for by countless friends and it continues to slowly kill you. Or, you have prayed for a friend with some debilitating sickness believing that they will be healed and they are not healed but have died from that sickness. How do you deal with these situations?
You believe that God heals the sick. Maybe you have prayed for someone who was healed or heard stories of miraculous healing. As a result your faith is strong and solid. You do not doubt the existence of God and know that He loves you. But you have chronic physical pain that hurts every hour of every day. You believe in the power of prayer and have been prayed for countless times by friends, casual acquaintances, even the “big guns” in the healing ministry. You have attended countless healing meetings. At some of these meetings prophetic “words” were given specifically for the physical condition you were dealing with. You have worked harder and prayed harder and longer than you thought was possible. You have tried fasting, thinking maybe this was the key to your healing. You have named it and claimed it more times than you care to remember. You have ignored it and denied it but the pain is still there. You have knelt in front of the TV and placed your hands on the screen, as the healing evangelist looked you square in the eye and prayed for your healing. Nothing changes. You have begged, cajoled, pleaded, bargained, cried, screamed in frustration, and yet the heavens remain silent and the pain is still there.
The pain slowly eats at you, demoralizing you, breaking your spirit, and bringing with it a desperation that only those in chronic pain can know and understand. You will try anything to make the pain go away. Both medication and surgery have been tried and they do not help. The pain is unchanging. To cope you may turn to alcohol, drugs, pornography or some other escape to be distracted even for a short time.
This is unrelenting pain, which the doctors can do nothing about. Pain which prayer seems to be unable to touch, pain which causes your emotions to swing from anger to acceptance to despair and hopelessness. Perhaps you are emotionally and spiritually wounded by what has been said or done to you from well meaning friends. You have heard all the standard answers from your Christian brothers and sisters like; “You need to have more faith and claim your healing.” My question would be how much is more and how much claiming do I need to do? Some are fond of saying, “I think there must be some sin God is trying to reveal in your life and when you deal with that sin your healing will come.” My response, “Okay I’m ready to deal.”
If you have tried everything you know to rid yourself of this chronic physical pain and it still persists, what do you do? How do you cope? How do you continue to smile and go on with life believing that God will heal you? Is all this healing stuff just false hope? Are you kidding yourself? How do you hold onto hope? How do you keep from screaming, “God, are you listening, do you even care,” or “Why God,” and turning away from God for good?
The answer to these questions is critical because the message you often hear from the Pentecostal, Charismatic, Evangelical church is that we worship a healing God, it is His will that we be healed, therefore you should not be suffering from pain. If you are there must be something wrong with you.
GOD’S SECRET PLAN
I’ve been told that somehow my pain is a part of God’s “secret plan” and I must endure it while hanging on to the hope that one day my healing will come.
Christianity is founded on the assumption that God can and does unilaterally intervene in the affairs of humans. If that were true the logical question is: why does God’s intervention in the world seem so arbitrary? Yes, God can heal blindness, but why does God heal one blind person and not another?
The reasoning goes something like this: If God can heal one blind man at one time, it seems he could heal any blind man any time. Thus it seems the reason many remain blind is because God is unwilling to heal them. And if he’s unwilling to heal them, it must be his will they remain blind. Hence whether a person is born blind or with sight and whether he or she remains blind or is healed is all part of God’s “secret plan.”
This line of reasoning is then applied to all diseases and personal tragedies. Therefore, it is concluded, whatever happens must be because God wants it to happen or at least because God didn’t want to stop it from happening.
WHEN I DISCOVERED PAIN
It couldn’t have been a better day to snow ski. It was a warm, spring day in the California mountains and I was at a popular ski resort, on the last run of the day, finishing up what had been a tremendous two days of skiing. As I headed down the ski slope and neared the end of the run I jumped over a small mogul. When I landed my skis came to an abrupt stop in the wet, sticky snow. However, my ski bindings released and my body did a somersault slamming into the snow with such impact that I momentarily lost consciousness.
I knew I was in trouble as I lay on my back in the snow. I didn’t fully understand how much trouble until I tried to reach for my ski poles. After the initial stunning blow, I realized that I had no feeling in my hands or legs. That realization brought fear like I have never experienced before as my mind very quickly translated all of this into, “you have broken your neck and are paralyzed.” As I lay there trying to comprehend what had just happened, suddenly the pain came like hot needles down my arms into my hands. After a period of time I was able to stand and slowly, painfully make my way down to the bottom of the ski slope where my friend was waiting for me.
After I told him what had happened we drove back to Bakersfield where I was admitted to the hospital. After hours of Xrays, probing and MRI’s the doctors gave me the diagnosis. This traumatic accident had broken my wrist, severely sprained both thumbs and seriously damaged three discs in my neck. The doctor told me that I was fortunate to be able to walk. The trauma to my neck could very easily have left me totally paralyzed.
As a result of this accident over twenty five years ago I have been dealing with constant pain in both hands due to the injuries to the discs and nerves in my neck. This pain is with me 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The only way I can cope with the pain is through medication, which makes the pain tolerable.
IS GOD TO BLAME?
I do not believe that physical pain and suffering are from God. He does not send pain and suffering to build our character. He does not cause accidents to teach us lessons. If that were the case how does one explain to a mother whose child was run down in the street that this is something God allowed because He has a greater purpose for this child? This is not the God that I worship. He does not bring about the horror of a 9/11 because somehow it fits into His “secret plan” which we will one day understand.
We must come to a place where we accept that there are many things that happen in this universe that are outside of God’s plan. He created both us and other spiritual beings with a free will. We know some of these spirit beings made a choice to rebel, as man did, and that there are consequences for these choices. Because of His love for us he allows these choices to be made. Sometimes these choices clearly go against His will.
What if the pain doesn’t go away! Part Two
What if the pain doesn’t go away! Part Three
Coming In December 2014!
December 1, 2014
My newest book is scheduled to be available in early December. Subtitled, Baggage To Drop On Your Way To Heaven, it is a guide to assist in discovering freedom from the invisible burdens that oppress and defeat many Christians today.
Chapters include: The Importance of Forgiveness, The Traps of Unforgiveness, A Look in the Mirror, I Will Never, Harmful Words and Harmful Connections, Let Yourself Be Loved By God, The Recovery of Intimacy, and more. Copies will be available at Wholeness.org and at Amazon.com
The other thing that has been happening that you may not know about is a complete overhaul and redesign of our website. Jimmy Iaccino, the designer, has been diligently working on this for some weeks now and it has come together beautifully. It’s simple, readable, easy to navigate and showcases the heart of this ministry. In the whirlwind cyber world that we live in it’s important to be able to look fresh and current with a site that quickly catches people’s attention as they surf the web. I believe we at Wholeness Ministries have much to offer people, so check it out!
It’s hard to believe that this year is almost gone and we are heading into 2015! A lot has happened in the last year for which we are very thankful. Besides the new book and website we celebrated our 20th Year Anniversary!
To think all of this started with my attending a healing conference in 1984. I was on staff at First Baptist Church in Bakersfield, CA. My boss and Senior Pastor Dr. John Lavender insisted that we go to a healing conference conducted by John Wimber at the Vineyard in Anaheim, CA.
What I observed at that healing conference and the encounter with God that I had, left me a changed man. I came back to First Baptist Church and began forming prayer teams to pray for the sick on a regular basis. Over the next ten years I went to every training event, and healing conference that John Wimber conducted. I read every book I could get my hands on that had to do with healing. This led to writing our first training manual, Learning To Do What Jesus Did.
God has opened many doors for us in various denominations, ministry streams and other countries outside the United States. There have been trips to Qatar, Kuwait, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Serbia, to name a few. Plus we have been to numerous churches around the United States.
God has been faithful in providing for all the needs of our family. Not once have we wanted for anything that we needed. Admittedly, I didn’t know how God was going to provide, but He always did. In addition, along the way He surprised us with gifts that went far beyond our needs. Much like a loving father would do for his children.
It has been an exciting journey and I cannot express how grateful that He chose me to walk this journey with Him. Indeed I want to give God all the glory and I look forward to many more years in this exciting journey. Thank you for your continued support. Without you we could not have done all this.
Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Before You Get Here by Mike Evans
November 14, 2014
COMING IN DECEMBER 2014
The latest offering by teacher and ministry leader Mike Evans is scheduled to begin printing in a few days. Subtitled, Baggage To Drop On Your Way To Heaven, it is a guide to assist in discovering freedom from the invisible burdens that oppress and defeat many Christians today.
Chapters include The Importance of Forgiveness, The Traps of Unforgiveness, A Look in the Mirror, I Will Never, Harmful Words and Harmful Connections, Let Yourself Be Loved By God, The Recovery of Intimacy, and more. Copies will be available here at Wholeness.org and at fine bookstores nationwide.
Yes, I Am Excited!
November 3, 2014
Many of you know that for some time I have been writing a new book titled: “Before You Get Here.” It’s about all that baggage that God wants us to deal with before we get to heaven. All the editing has been completed and we just received the final cover a couple of days ago so we are almost ready to go to press. I am hoping this book will be out before the end of the year.
The other thing that has been happening that you don’t know about is a complete overhaul and redesign of our website. Jimmy, the designer, has been diligently working on this for some weeks now and it is coming together beautifully. It’s simple, readable, easy to navigate and showcases the heart of this ministry. We are hoping to launch by the first of November so that by the time you receive this newsletter we may be online with a completely new look. In the whirlwind cyber world that we live in it’s important to be able to look fresh and current with a site that quickly catches people’s attention as they surf the web. I believe we at Wholeness Ministries have a lot to offer people, so check it out!
WE GET TO CHOOSE!
The other night Jane and I were attending a mid-week service at Bakersfield New Life Center. Jim Ranger (the oldest son of James & Lydia), was speaking that evening from Psalm 89. In this psalm he talked about God’s creation and how all that God created belongs to Him. But then he said something that really caught my attention. We get to choose! We get to choose whether we want to belong to God or not! Think about that. Out of everything He created we are the only ones that have a choice whether we want to belong to God or not! That’s stunning.
WHY DO YOU LOOK SO SERIOUS, LIGHTEN UP!
In the nineteenth century, the atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche reproached a group of Christians. “You make me sick!” When their spokesman asked why, Nietzsche replied, “Because you redeemed don’t look like you’re redeemed!”
That’s a curious response isn’t it? And yet, must we not stop and examine how the unbelieving view us as we live out our life of faith? Countless times I have been around believers whose countenance is such that though they may be happy and joyful inside, they haven’t notified their face because they look as if they have been sucking on lemons.
I have heard people say, “If that’s what being a Christian is like I don’t want to be one!”
Perhaps part of the problem lies in our understanding of who we are and what we possess. Consider this, “Are you spiritually rich or spiritually poor?” Brennan Manning makes the statement that if we consider ourselves spiritually rich we begin to make demands on God for things that we think we deserve, often leading to anger and frustration. If we presume that life owes us the best and nothing but the best, then reality rarely lives up to our expectations. What logically follows is that we take for granted everything that comes our way and bear ourselves with the swagger of the executive who knows what is up and has all under control.
To be spiritually poor is to realize that everything is a gift. Salvation, mercy, grace, provision, protection, all that comes from the hand of God is a gift. That He would love us is, in itself, irrational and unreasonable. The spiritually poor experience genuine gratitude and appreciate the slightest gift. The rich in spirit devote considerable time to thinking about what they don’t have; the poor get right down to enjoying and celebrating what they do have.
As we stand before God with open hands, not clinging to anything, our life becomes a life of humble, joyful thanksgiving. When we begin to let go of our self-sufficiency and realize what it means to be the Beloved and that He is more than sufficient, we disappear into what Thomas Merton calls, “the tremendous poverty that is the adoration of God.”
I suspect that then the redeemed will look like they’re redeemed.
Wholeness Ministries supports two missionary families in Eastern Europe. One of these couples is Eduard and Ibi Rudolf who live in Cluj, Romania. Eduard and his wife Ibi work with orphans, gypsies and children in the various villages around Romania. They have four children of their own. In addition to the outreach to the gypsies in many villages, they have established a significant work at the orphanage in Cluj and a children’s ministry in over 10 villages that reaches hundreds of children each week. Not only are they bringing them the Good News but also they are giving them hope and love and providing in tangible ways exactly what Jesus would do if he were there among them. Keep Eduard and his family in your prayers.
Thank you for your prayers and support of Wholeness Ministries. Without your help we could not do the things we are able to do. Keep us in your prayers as we try to faithfully listen to the Father and do what we believe He is calling us to do.
God bless, Mike
Thought For Today: I created you to be you. If you are not going to be you, who is going to be you?