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Thus says the Lord,

“Take heart, little children, for I have overcome the world. I know of your suffering and your pain. I hear the voice of your prayers. Take heart, little children, for I have overcome the world.

“Many think that I am cold-hearted in my dealings with man, that I turn my face from their gravest of needs. But it is not so. I am compassionate and caring. I hold my people in the palm of my hand.

“Think you that I would forsake the very ones for whom I died? For whom I bore the lashes, the thorns, the nails? For whom I was raised and crucified?

“Yes, I see the suffering and the agony. I see the violence and the pain. I know of the hunger and sickness, disease and disaster. I know of these things. They are forever before my eyes. And my heart breaks with your suffering, with your pain. I have not turned blind eye. I see and I love. I weep as my children cry.

“Know you not that my love is greater than yours? So if you, loving within the limitations that you do love, know how to have compassion upon the needs of this world, don’t you think that I know even more? Don’t you think that I help even more? Don’t you think that I intercede even more?

“Tell me, imperfect ones, why do you judge perfection? For do I know best? Or do you?

“Therefore trust me, my children, and know that I do care. I do have a plan. I do see your troubles. And I have not forsaken you.”

Who loves the Lord the way that He loves us? Who honors the Lord the way that He honors us? Who treasures the Lord the way that He treasures us?

Oh children of the earth, can we think beyond you and me? They and I? Can we move beyond our own desires, fears, and dreams? Can we care for God the way that He cares for us?

Harken to my voice, sinners and saints. We think ourselves rulers of this world. Content in our houses. Driving our cars. Raising our families. We think ourselves accomplished with degrees beneath our belt. We think ourselves seasoned with experience to share.

But I say, look beyond the simple bubble wherein lives your universe. I say think about the Lord who has blessed you with the house, cars, and children. Do we have time for Him when we have no need? Do we have love for Him when prayers go unanswered? Do we have devotion for Him when earthquakes ravage our nations?

But our time is limited. Our love is conditional. Our devotion is variable.

And when we walk content, Jesus weeps. When we judge each other, we rend the heart of God. And when we ignore the beggar in the street, the prostitute walking to that car, the teenager selling drugs, the druggy manipulating for money, the rapist fleeing the scene, and the murderer serving his time, we ignore the Christ who suffered and died for them, you, and I.

Because it’s not just about you. It’s not just about me. It’s not just about them.

It’s about our King of kings. Can I love Him the way that He loves me?

I say, if the fruit of our lives is any indication, the answer is no. If the grieving of His Spirit troubling my soul is any indication, the answer is no. I say, if the emptiness of our churches in a Christian nation is any indication, the answer is no.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Brother and sisters, beloved and friends, there is still time to change.

I plead. I plead. There is still time to change.

But not much.

My dog struggles with a condition called collapsing trachea. It causes him to gasp for air like he’s choked on a bone or a chunk of food. In bad episodes, he will continue to choke for up to ten minutes. And a few nights ago, he started gasping. So I picked him up and prayed over him, pleading with God to heal him. Well, he kept choking.

I got frustrated, no lie. This may be a dog, but he’s my little friend. I’m very attached to him. I’m laying there, petting my dog, trying to comfort him while he chokes like he’s about to die. And I’m terrified that maybe not this time, but next time he’s going to choke, and choke, and not stop. What if he really does die from this condition? Collapsing trachea has killed dogs. I don’t want to lose mine.

And so I’m praying, and praying, and petting, and kissing, and he’s still choking. Poor thing’s miserable. I’m like, “God! Help, please!” And I start crying. My dog’s going to die and the Healer is ignoring me. Then I start getting mad. “God! You said ask and it will be given. You say nothing is impossible. You say pray. Well, God, I pray for healing, not just for my dog, but others too, and I might as well be talking to a brick wall. You ignore me! In the Bible you healed. For others, you’ve healed. But me? Why not for me?” (I’m half-hysterical, people.)

And my dog is still gasping for every breath. I’m still crying. Lord’s still ignoring.

Or is He?

In the midst of my tears, I hear Him say, “What are you so afraid of?”

And in my mind, I see my dog dying from this thing, leaving me alone and tumbling back into the despair of loneliness and depression from which God has used this dog to help pull me out of.

And God says, “Your dog is not going to die tonight.”

I’m so relieved I remember the need to breathe. Then I remember I’m supposed to be mad at my Abba Father. “You didn’t heal him,” I accuse. “You never heal people when I pray. How am I supposed to operate this gift if You don’t do Your part!”

God; “Fear hinders faith, daughter.”

My frustration sputters to an end like a car that’s run out of gas. All of the sudden I understand. Healing is activated by faith. If there is not faith, there is no healing. If I’m terrified my dog’s going to die, well, I’m not really operating in faith. I’m operating in fear. And therefore, I hinder God’s ability to heal through my faith.

And I’m immediately discouraged. “You might as well count me out of this healing business then, God. I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think I will ever fully conquer this fear thing.”

This is why I love God so much; He says, “With man, this is impossible. But with Me, all things are possible. Place your faith in Me and I will win your battle.”

My dog is still alive, in case you were wondering J

But I did learn a heavy lesson that night. I can’t expect healing if I’m terrified that it won’t happen. So if I am ever to operate in this area that God is calling me to, then I must overcome the spirit of fear that stalks me, waiting for an opportunity to cripple my faith. However, this cannot be done through my own strength. It must be done through God. He can make this happen in my life. He can transform me to where I am no longer hindered in this way. That is fully within God’s power and might. That I can believe without fear or worry.

And that is how I know that there will come a day when prayers of faith will be raised, and healing shall descend.

Silence, oh God, the whispers in my head. The voices that shame me, beat me, break me. Tear down, oh God, the stronghold of Satan; the bindings that keep me; the chains that restrain me. You say greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. Oh blessed Lord, my mighty God, my strong tower, and valiant shield, why are these just words to me now? Greater is he. Greater is he. Greater is he. The great darkness overwhelms, majestic Father. The pain drowns me in a sea of torment – an ocean of agony.

Blessed Savior. Blessed Savior! Where are you when I need you? Hear my cry, hear my weeping. Why the silence? Why the never-ending stillness? Where is my breakthrough? Where is my relief? Where is the peace meant to sustain me? Oh God, oh God, where are the Words that break the bindings of the enemy? I am here. I am alone. Mighty Father, I am afraid.

Sweet child, sweet beloved. Where is your faith? I am here. I am with you. I am still the hope that sustains you. Am I a man that I should change? Am I a sinner that I should despise you? Am I limited that I cannot reach you? Am I powerless that I cannot deliver you? You turn this way, you turn that, you search but you cannot find. Foolish child. Deceived beloved. I am not a man that you should see me through the eyes of mankind. Close your eyes and open your spirit.

Though the wind tosses this way and that, I am the hands that help you withstand. And while the sea is turbulent and raging, I am the boat that keeps you from sinking. Dearest little one, love of my heart, while the lightning strikes the ground and illuminates the darkness, while the thunder strikes and trembles the very heavens, while the earth shakes and the ground is cracking, while the clouds spill torrents of rain and sheets of hail, I am the rock that keeps you from falling – falling into the abyss of darkness

Yes, there will be storms that threaten the foundation of your world, but I am the wings that carry you. I am the light that guides you. I am the power that delivers you, restores you, heals you and redeems you, when life has beaten you down. Rest in me, my child, and I will bring you through the storm.

One of the greatest ways that Satan binds the church is through deception. And one of the greatest deceptions that he feeds into our minds is that we are alone in our struggle, everyone else has it all together, and that we are weaker than the rest. Why does this happen in the church? Because we wipe away our tears before we leave the house, get to church and see smiles on everyone’s face and don’t want to show that we’re struggling when everyone else is not. And we do this not knowing that many of those smiles that convinced us to paste on our own fake smiles are indeed fake themselves.

So I have decided to strip away my mask in prayer that others will see and be encouraged.

I walk around a lot with a smile. Often that smile is genuine, sometimes it’s not. When it’s not, I paste it one because either I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems, or I just don’t want to talk about them, so I don’t let people know that I’m having problems.

But I am. Some people know of these problems. Others don’t.

I battle every day with the strongholds of depression and anxiety. Some days are better than others. The depression is getting better, the anxiety is getting worse. At the beginning of this year I went on a three-month deployment onboard the USS Carl Vinson. This deployment was a living nightmare for me. I began to feel extremely claustrophobic. I began having flashbacks to my difficult childhood. Anxiety and fear plagued me and most of the time I couldn’t figure out the source. Thinking I was losing my mind, suicidal thoughts began weaving their way into my mind. I reached out for help. I didn’t get the intervention I should have.

By the miracle of God, I made it to the rest of the deployment. But my battle had just begun. My ship’s medical continued blowing me off when I reached out for assistance. I ended up spending a month total in a hospital’s psych ward. When I went up to the ship’s captain to ask for a discharge and report medical’s lack of assistance, I was given a sound rebuke, cut off in every explanation I tried to give and called manipulative.

Soon after, I learned my thyroid was overactive and I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease. The hospital removed me from the ship and assigned me temporary shore duty. However, in retaliation, my ship cancelled my shore duty, flew me back to the ship, and gave me 30 days of restriction and extra duty for minor offenses anyone else would have been verbally rebuked for and sent on their way (walked away from a JAG officer and refused to go to medical when security told me to.) Then, satisfied, they returned me to my shore duty.

And even now, away from the ship, the battle continues. My experience onboard the Carl Vinson hit me at such a deep and traumatic level that I continue to have nightmares about it. Many of my nights are restless, plagued with bad dreams. I have become skittish, easily startled. A simple conversation about the ship is enough to send me into flashbacks of being underway. Many a day I am on edge, terrified of things I don’t know. Terrified I will return to the ship, even though the odds of that are extremely thin.

I go to therapy now: group and individual. I run to the alter whenever there is room for my feet. I hide in God’s presence during praise and worship at my church. I sometimes cry myself to sleep. I had a recent relapse into cutting. I grit my teeth when my flesh cries out for negative coping skills—desperate for relief from the mental onslaught. I keep my mind and fingers busy with my writing and the church’s newsletter. I fall before the feet of Jesus, weeping and reaching for the hem of His garment.

And in the midst of it all, God holds me. He loves me, rocks me in His arms. He whispers in my ear how sorry He is for my pain. I have learned not to be angry at Him. My pain grieves Him more than it grieves me. So I pray. I fast. I worship. I cry out for deliverance.

And because I am victorious in Christ Jesus—no longer a victim—deliverance is headed my way.

God has heard my cry. And though it may not appear so now, He is responding.