Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Tag: Healing (page 2 of 4)

When He Becomes Every Good Thing

I’m sitting here surrounded by tissue and elderberry cold extract, and sneezing, and coughing and sounding like my voice has dropped seventeen octaves.

Shoot me now.

But then I watch as my husband makes supper, from my perch in my comfy chair, of his own volition after a long day working in the bowels of an old and complicated yacht, and I see the blessing that resides next to my germy Kleenex mountain.

Pots are simmering, the oven is humming, dishes are clanking.

There’s a goodness to it. My virus-submerged head acknowledges it.

God’s blessing filling the places where despair tries to settle.

I choose in that moment to say, “Lord, you are good.”

Earlier I was tucked into bed, letting my body do nothing else but fight off this doozy of a lurking head cold. Stuck under blankets, unable to get up and greet the day, I feebly lifted my phone and noticed a dozen notifications awaiting me.

They were friends from a writing/blogging group I participate in, sending me a barrage of prayer and warm thoughts and scripture, worrying about me, and encouraging me to feel better soon.

And we’ve never met face to face, and they didn’t have to say a thing, but those messages felt like this very real blessing where exhaustion and defeat were sneaking up on me a moment before.

And I stopped to sneeze, then closed my eyes and chose in that same moment to say, “Lord, you’re so gracious.”

Later on the couch, my dog laying across my feet snoring, not leaving my side all day, sensing I wasn’t myself, all lights except the Christmas ones off, (yes, I will keep my lights up through the chill and darkness of January when most folks have long taken them down) I doodle in my journal next to my son, and he chats about history of war, this class he never thought he’d enjoy in school and is, and I take a soul-snapshot of the blessings happening right there in the room.

And I silently lift a, “Lord, you are this sure foundation, right here.”

And maybe it’s the elderberry extract, or maybe I’m just a baby when I’m sick, but it occurs to me that once again today might just be a lesson in peace. In faithfulness. In happiness not being a reaction to the good, but a substance that endures through the dross and delights of life.

Happiness lurks in the very ordinary sometimes. There in the daily stuff we all take for granted is the thread, the tracing of His Hand in the hum.

He is the author of every good thing. He IS every good thing there is to be had. Durable and accessible.

The question then becomes;
Has He already become your Every Good Thing?

I sit with my honey lemon tea and my husband’s thickest socks and decide that if I’m stuck at home with this illness, then I might as well avail myself of some time to tuck into all the evidence of His presence, of His faithfulness, of His goodness. I have nowhere to go, but into His courts, and soak in the grace, and healing, and relationship that I sometimes place on the back burner because I’m too well and too busy most times to remember that He’s been waiting to be what propels our day, or carve our path.

Head colds lurk, family issues arise, heavy choices pop up, chaos, drama, and complicated situations will abound at various times. But we have a Strong Tower to run to, a Provider who aches to provide, and a Friend who sticks closer than any other.

I guess I say all of this to urge you to take a look around. Look for the trace of His Hand where ever you are right now. Threads of His provision. Glances of His graciousness extended to you right there.

Acknowledge it. Give thanks for it. Rely on it. Treasure it.

Finally, I curl up with my blanket and think of all the times I thought I had to go searching for Him and hunt Him down because the situation I was in was less than ideal, so God must be elsewhere.

And instead, He chose to be right there, already in the middle of it, and I missed every sign of Him despite my anxiousness to locate Him.

That’s just so like us, isn’t it?

But not today. Today we look closely and shift our perspective.

Today He becomes our Every Good Thing.

Just Stand Up

I had coffee with a good friend the other day.

I must confess, we were swapping stories of woe. She suffers from a depression similar to mine, but hers was brought on by a traumatic event in her past, and we were going back and forth, comparing the latest hard days and stresses we were dealing with.

Ever notice how your mood can lift just by understanding that someone else knows what it is you’re going through, or what it is you carry with you?

And you know, before long, our stories of woe turned into a bit of hilarity, and laughter, and wiping eyes from funny tears. And we heaved a sigh at the same time, and nodded to each other.

You can be going through the most awful situations, but just knowing someone else is fighting just as hard to grasp some joy and peace in the midst of the current storms can dwarf the fear and stress surrounding those same situations. And you nod because you acknowledge that you are both warriors and survivors and that you’re blessed, even in this small thing.

We stared at our coffee and tea. And then she said something that has clung to me all the rest of the week.

“Christine”, she said, “You know how you’re always saying that sometimes God can speak the simplest things into our souls at just the right time, and it’s like a surge of power from a source we hadn’t anticipated? Like when the depression is just too much, and I can’t even function or pray or rise above it at all, but suddenly, it’s like the Father leans in knowing full well I can’t find the energy to reach for Him, so He does it for me? And says something I desperately need?

I said, yes, I completely know that feeling.

“Well”, she looked at me knowingly, “That was me yesterday. It was so bad. The whole day. Felt myself drowning. And just when I was hunched over at the counter in the kitchen, this huge mess, me I mean, wondering if I’d be able to even finish the day, deal with it all, the weight of getting supper ready too large to consider, unable to cry even, and randomly saying to no one in particular ‘what do I do?’…. suddenly it was like He was right there in the kitchen, and I heard Him answer, “Just stand up.”

She got tears in her eyes. I got tears in my eyes.

“Just stand up. That’s all He wanted me to do. It was like He looked down and said, I would never let this beat you, so stop leaning against the counter all hunched over and afraid. Daughter, stand up!”

“So I did!”

And when she did, it was like there was a new power source holding her up, and even though things still felt a little hard for the rest of the night, they were dealable, her words. Like suddenly all the heaviness shrunk down to nothing. I got goosebumps and wanted to have church right there in the coffee shop but reined it in before I scared someone.

And we left shortly after, and the zing of those three words she shared stuck with me like a static charge.

“Just stand up!”

And the more I think them, the more I hear Christ issue these words over his daughters and sons. He’s said these words before.

“Stand up, and walk….” John 5:8

“Rise! And walk….” Matt. 9:5

“Stand! Your faith has made you well…” Luke 17:19

“Stand up straight, you are freed, woman.” Luke 13:10-17

Just stand up.

He sees you bent over, crippled, heavy circumstances weighing you down.

He sees how hard it was to get out of bed. Or to go to work. Or to deal with the kids. The bills. The doctor visits. The pills you have to take. The tasks you’re panicked about.

He sees how your brain is wired. How the chemicals are misfiring again. How the moods are shifting. How hopeless, restless, anxious, and grieved you are.

And He knows that sometimes, we just need to be allowed to stand up. To stand up under it all. To get our dignity back. Our peace back. Our strength replenished. Our hope recharged.

So He leans in and props us up in His grace. He leans in and the touch of the Master’s hand brings a new charge, and we can stand. Because of Him.

That fuel to stand?
Purest love for you. Purest peace abiding. Purest strength supplying.

So keep dwelling there. Where His Presence keeps speaking those things to you. So He can shepherd you through it. So the Life Preserver can lead you out of the stormy sea and into the shallows and say with authority, “My child, stand up!”

I don’t think my friend will be able to forget those words any time soon.

I pray none of us do.

Because they’re declared over each and every one of His children.

“I AM here. Just stand up.”

3 Reasons To Write Out The Hard Things

Some of us journal. Keep a diary. Make lists. Put our secrets and plans and wants down on paper, or on a hard drive. Some of us can’t live without writing and journaling daily.

For some, those musings become blogs and books and manuals for life. We offer it up to the public, we share it openly, and connection happens. I went from journaling to blogging 6 months ago and it’s a lifeline for me.

Why? It’s a type of therapy. I take all my experiences with my ongoing battle with chronic depression (and how it affects my faith and vice versa), daily, weekly, and I pour them into words that can do what my disjointed emotions sometimes cannot. Into prayers and pleas. The journaling is an outlet. The blogging is the window for others to see they’re not alone during the hard things.

Both feed something on the inside that I can’t easily access otherwise. And might I suggest the same could be true for you. Oh, you may not ever have a blog, or leather-bound journals, but writing during the hard things can be the outlet your soul requires in order to grow, move on, and receive treasured motivation that sometimes goes missing when we’re busy being consumed by our circumstances.

Still not convinced? Here’s my top 3 reasons for why it’s completely to our benefit to write out the hard things whenever we feel overwhelmed.

1. It Creates Space

When we write out how we’re feeling, how things seem, how impossible it all looks, and it’s down on paper written from our own hand, we have created some separation. Instantly. It’s no longer rambling around our insides, untouchable, and dangerous. Now it’s out. It’s in a space all its own.

And that’s a victory, quite frankly. What was hiding inside has been confronted. On paper , or in a blog, we can give ourselves space. We can walk away from it. We can delete or throw it away. Everything shrinks in the face of bravery.

2.  We Can Find A Way

The difficulty is now down on paper. It’s perspective has changed. There’s been room to breath. Sometimes when I’ve reread what I’ve written in the heat of my meltdown, I suddenly see how I neglected to see the solution. I was so caught up in the awful, that I was never going to see my options staring me in the face.

The prayer we could have lifted. The Life Preserver we could have run to, waiting for us to give it over to the One who can handle any storm and BE your answer. The perspective we should embrace. The help we should be brave enough to search for. The people we should lean on. When we see the physical list of all the awful, we have the urge to move forward. We look to find a way.

3. We Access Joy

Ever read back through a difficult period in your journal, or a random rant you wrote out at 4 am one morning? And you can see the literal journey amid the scribbles and wordage.  Ever see the pattern of His Hand preparing a plan you never anticipated, or the way your temporary hardships granted a powerful permanent life lesson that now empowers you, and yes, even brings Peace? Energy. Fuel.
Provision. Joy!?!

We’re given the treasure of proof that we’re made for something more, for more journeys, for more lessons. You can look back and your heart lifts at where you are, and where you came from.

In 1 John 1:1-4, the writer expresses his intense passion for why he writes to any who will ever read his scrolls. That he and so many others had experienced first hand The Answer in the flesh, and that despite all the hardships they encountered, it was their great privilege to share their life changing journey. So that everyone else after would have what they had.

AND (wait for it!) that writing it all down would
make their joy complete.

And no, our blogs and our books and our diaries will never even come close to what the Word of God can do… but write to find your JOY. Answer your trials with how you’re going to find the beautiful in the middle of the awful. With how you might be down but never out. And how you’ll let the 1 John One who holds you keep your head up and restore amazing healing and JOY.

So many ways to bring therapy, some resolution, some perspective. Writing is just one. But sometimes, for me, it’s the only thing that gives me what everyone wants when they battle something difficult.

The space to get our feet under us again.
The time to see a better plan, to find a rescue.
And the next steps for bringing joy back to life.

The Life Repaired

What comes to mind when you hear the words “the life repaired”?

The kicking of an addiction? The landing of a job? Someone being given a second chance? Someone being rescued, fixed up, lifted out of troubling circumstances?

I was reading in the New Testament what is perhaps my favorite Jesus encounter out of all the Gospels. A pressing crowd, people following Jesus through the streets for various reasons. But one in the crowd is desperate for repair. Repair of both health, AND of an emotional nature. She has had men try to heal her from her issue of blood for over a decade without success. Who knows what manner of crude treatments they had experimented on her with. And her illness is such that without a cure, she cannot be allowed to be a proper part of society. That she cannot even just approach the Teacher personally. So she uses the cover of the crowd to hide in. She has heard things about this man.

He is her only hope for a repaired life. A restored life. A redemptive life.

So she hides in the crowd. A bold move at that. If she was recognized, there would be consequences. She was considered completely unclean.

Untouchable. An outcast.

And though she has heard of the Miracle Man, the compassionate Teacher, did she wrestle at all with whether He would even respond to her desperation? Would He have any time for someone so broken? In such a crowd all calling for His attention, what would she matter to Him? So she trails behind him.

Don’t we ask ourselves the same thing? We look at our own reputations, we size up our own shortcomings, we think about our own impossible requests.

And we’ve been so unsuccessful with our circumstances, that we’re more used to shame than hope.

And instead of going boldly before Him, we simply hedge a little closer, we hide in the crowd, we try to blend in and not call attention to ourselves, all while hoping to reap the benefits of His Presence.

Regardless of all of that, here’s why I love this Jesus encounter best.

She knew without a doubt, that despite all of that, she wanted a life repaired. And that just laying a fingertip of the hem of his coat would be enough to give her back her hope.

And a hand outstretched in hope towards the Life Preserver, is a life forever restored.

So she touches his garment for just a moment while the masses vie for His attention, all of them selfish for His gaze and His words and His smile and His laugh, yet she trails behind, drinking in new hope, drinking in His Presence in a faith way unlike the rest.

Just a fingertip-faith. But it’s enough.

And He stops.

If ever we need proof that we do not go unnoticed in the crush of a noisy, chaotic, crowded world, it’s here.

Everyone was pressing in. Everyone was touching Him. Everyone was jostling, demanding, calling, reaching, pushing. But the reach of the desperate. The reach of a faith certain enough that it was now or never. He cannot help himself. When His beloved reach an urgent, sincere hand towards Him, He stops to complete the encounter, to make it His personal mission to hear our cries. To respond to our faith, no matter what that faith in action looks like. Every time.

To repair what needs repairing.

In the passage in Mark chapter 5, with that one brushing of her fingertip, she felt sickness, desperation, hopelessness, helplessness, and abuse leave her body, and completeness, wholeness, and new life flood her from head to toe.

But as I read the passage, her repair is not complete until she has a personal encounter with the Saviour. He makes a point of asking who touched Him. He seeks her out. And a woman who hasn’t been able to look anyone in the eye for 12 years, hasn’t been able to stray far from her home, hasn’t been able to experience community and relationship, nor any of the things a normal woman gets to experience, her first human connection in over a decade gets to be with the One who grants her very wholeness. Who doesn’t just heal her, but in front of the bustle and the followers, calls her Daughter. Restoring EVERYTHING to her, with words of utter compassion and understanding. Who won’t just heal her there, but will later see her face in the billions of faces before Him while He hangs on a cross.

The ultimate repair. Available for us all.

The same power she felt run through her veins was just a small taste of the power about to provide the ultimate healing. The power about to defy the grave.

This is available to us. Your battle with depression. Your grief. Your cancer fight. Your impossible situations. Your desperation. Press in with your faith, such as it is, and hear Him call you Daughter, hear Him call you Son, and the title of belonging means life in His Presence becomes, not just repaired, but new.

It is a promise of potent provision!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

I thrill every time I read about this singular encounter. So much restored. So much repaired. So much extended. So much love and healing. And we don’t see words spoken rehashing her illness, or words spoken about her past. He speaks of her faith. He addresses her courage. That she belonged the whole time.

We don’t know if she ever saw Him again. We don’t know what she did with the life He gave back to her. But, I know if an encounter with the Saviour on my knees, from my simple livingroom while I pray, can be life-changing, then how much more epic would a face to face encounter have been?

I have no doubt hers was a life repaired.

I have no doubt yours can be the same.

And far more important that your physical circumstances altered, is your spiritual circumstances changed. Your heart repurposed. Your soul re-ignited. Your mind renewed.

My prayer for you is that you have an encounter today with the only One who can repair what has been ripped apart. Taken from you. Broken up.

That you accept the healing and the life He can offer in it’s stead.

Time to press in, to use your ‘now or never’ faith, and receive a life repaired beyond anything you ever hoped for.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks for reading! Have a tremendous day, and if you’d love more great blogs of encouragement and truth, I hope to see you at:

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