Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ignoring the Ignorant

I have been using my wheelchair out in public since April 2013, which is two months time. You would think I would have gotten "over" the ignorance of so many that can't see past my ability to walk yet use a chair...they think they have a right to judge, even though they clearly can't see the chronic pain I battle day in and day out. I tell you truthfully that people come unhinged with shock when I stand up out of my wheelchair to grab an item off the top shelf at a store. Yes, it's funny in hindsight, but quite frustrating when I see the numbers of ignorant (and rude) gawking people within such a short time span.

Please understand that my chair gives me so much freedom and a quality of life like I've never had since my chronic pain condition began. But I'm going to be very open and honest with you. I've been feeling bogged down by the frustration I explained above. There is a staggeringly high percentage of society that has no clue that it is possible for someone to use a wheelchair for any other reason than paraplegia, and it's very frustrating...especially when you are the one affected. I am gradually learning to ignore the ignorant, but it's taking time. I wish it were like a light switch, where I could have instant results. But life is about learning, and that takes time, experience, and awareness.

I've said this many times on my blog, in person, and/or on Facebook - God is in control of it all, and He has a divine purpose for this "season" of life. I have already seen God teach me to "stand strong" and how to radically trust Him (I'm always learning about completely surrendered trust in the Lord) through this experience.

I have also seen God use my situation at VBS (Vacation Bible School). I had to call on God to give me the courage to take my wheelchair into church for the first time (keep in mind I go to a church with approximately 400 members). I knew I needed it to get through the day, but I was afraid of the attention it would undeniably attract, as well as the endless questions followed by my response. I even cried about it the night before VBS, asking God over and over for courage and help in trusting Him. Many of you may remember my post on Facebook asking for prayers to be bold and courageous and to trust Him...this is why. And our big theme for this year's VBS, you may ask?...."STAND STRONG!" How appropriate! I reminded myself daily how I needed to always stand strong, and how I was continuously learning to stand strong in tough situations. That completely surrendered trust finally came, thanks to God giving me that strength to trust Him & the many prayers that came my way. And daily, I prayed that I would "Stand Strong" in Him, and not allow the wheelchair to be a distraction for what we were all there to accomplish.

My week at VBS would not have been possible without my chair. In addition to God's continual lesson in my life in terms of trust, God allowed me to share my situation with my crew members (the seven members of my 5th grade VBS team), as well as the entire 5th grade group (around 50 kids). My crew members were the most receptive people I've encountered thus far as to my disability (even among adults). I explained that I was able to walk and stand like they were, but I couldn't walk as far or stand as long. They simply wanted their turn to pop a wheelie. ;)

And God's blessings continued - I learned after the week had finished that one of my crew members has a dad that is a paraplegic, and the relative that brought him watched him throughout the week as she worked with us at VBS. She said she'd seen him open up only to a few people like he did to me since his dad's accident. He was eager to push me up the hills, hold the doors, etc. I really like to do things on my own as if I was walking, but you can't resist the help of these sweet & accepting 5th graders. Bottom line - the wheelchair helped "break the ice" with this young man. Out of 500 kids in VBS, I was placed with this child. We tend to underestimate the miracles God can do on a smaller level (me included), and I felt like the week of VBS might have been a breakthrough for both me and this precious young boy. It's times like this where God gently nudges me with the reminder that our trials in life are usually a part of a bigger & much more glorious picture (if we are children of the King).

It's also times like this that I am in awe of how my Savior knows my spirit and knows when I need His gentle hand to lift my head.

Isaiah 41:10 - Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.

So as down as I may get about society's lack of disability education, I have to remember to ignore the ignorant and continually praise my Savior for teaching and standing by me every step of the way. More than that, I praise Him over and over for the uplifting miracles I see Him perform in this story of life using a difficult situation and season of life, yet working it out for His glory and His good. And for that, it's all worth it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Scripture on Suffering & Trials/Tribulations

Image from http://laboringinthelord.com
*All are ESV version unless noted otherwise

Psalm 22:24
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

Psalm 34:19
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Isaiah 41:10
Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.    

Isaiah 66:9 (NCV)
I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.

John 11:35
Jesus wept.

John 16:33
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Romans 5:3-5
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.        

Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:26-28
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.     

2 Corinthians 4:8-10
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:17
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

Philippians 1:29-30
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 3:10
That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,.

2 Timothy 2:3-4
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

1 Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings.

    
1 Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.    

Monday, July 1, 2013

If God is Truly "Healer", Why Am I Not Healed?

So what happens when God doesn't heal us? Does it mean we don't have enough faith, or that we have unconfessed sin in our lives, or that we are not in His will, or maybe He doesn't love us like He used to (which is not possible, by the way)?

Sickness, pain, and death are all results of a fallen world due to sin (Genesis 3:16-19). Followers of Christ are not exempt from the consequences of sin (Romans 8:22-23).

If God were to heal every sickness, ailment, pain and discomfort, there would no longer be something called death. God tells us that our bodies (along with our physical strength) will fade, but there is something beautiful about this story - if we are followers of Christ, we WILL receive healing when we see Jesus, and we WILL receive glorified bodies and dwell in heaven, where there is no pain or sickness, crying or sin (Revelation 21), and that is a promise from God.

With all of that said, let's make sure we remember and celebrate that God does still heal and perform miracles - I've seen many in my lifetime through friend & family situations. God heals to show His glory and create a testimony as to His greatness. But God can also show us His glory and greatness through suffering and hardships - it reveals an intimacy with God that no other situation can manifest (Job 42:5 - "My ears have heard of You, but now I have seen You."). God shapes us into His own image when we allow Him to work through the rough times in life. We learn patience, perseverance, trust, peace, hope in God...(we can keep the list running)...all through hardships (Romans 5:3-4 - "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.").

I don't know about you, but the times that have been the hardest in my life have been the times that I grow and blossom into the godly young lady God planned for me to be...but only through Christ's strength. I can also tell you I have developed a unique ministry from my situation. Suffering equips us to comfort others more effectively and with genuine compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3 - "[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received fom God.").

Are you going through a hard time in life and don't know why there isn't hope or peace? It can sometimes be hard to find that hope and peace even for a follower of Christ, but the Bible tells us that a true follower of Christ IS capable of accessing that hope through prayer....with time and perseverance IN PRAYER.

If you have never had a relationship with the Lord and would like to make that happen today, you need to pray to God and ask forgiveness for your wrong-doings (sin) and commit to turn completely from the things that cause you to sin. You need to know and believe that Jesus came to earth and died a cruel death on a cross in order to pay the cost for your sin. Even better - He was buried and rose again the 3rd day. Did you catch that? My Lord defeated the grave!!! When we decide to let God take over our lives by doing the things listed above, we enter into an amazing relationship with a Heavenly Savior. Because of His great love for us, He wants to know us intimately. He also saves those who believe from eternal death (hell), which means we spend eternity in heaven with Him.

There is hope, peace, and healing in Christ. The world wants us to believe that healing should be a complete/perfect and immediate result that benefits our comfort. Although God is capable of performing a miracle with an immediate and perfect result, it is not always His will. He does have your perfect interest at heart....your spiritual needs take precedence over the physical. And His love, grace and power will carry us - that is a promise (2 Corinthians 12:9 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness").

Mental Illness and the Church