Monday, January 29, 2018

Hearing from God When the Heart Really Hurts

What do you do when you want to reach out to God, but your heart is agony? Maybe your praying for healing for yourself or for a loved one that is extremely ill. Or perhaps the unthinkable, your prayer request for a full healing went unanswered. This is a place of agony and complete brokeness in your heart. Your heart is painfully shattered in pieces, and you feel nothing but darkness around you. Possibly even your faith has been shaken to the core. The pain of the heart crying out is so intense that it is no longer just emotional, but it is physical and tangible. This is the place of inner turmoil and agony that I wish on no one. But sadly, everyone is bound to experience during their journey through this life.

How do you hear God when you feel He has abandoned you or you're angry at Him? Perhaps you thought you heard in your spirit that God was going to heal your loved one, and then they died from their ailments. I remember early on when I was first learning to pray for healing, a close friend of mine asked me to speak to a young man at our church. This young teen was devastated and wanted nothing more to do with God. His four-year-old sister had cancer. The whole family and church battled in prayer for miraculous healing. One morning, the young girl woke up and told her parents that Jesus came to her in a dream and told her that she was going to be fully healed from the life-threatening disease. The mother called the pastor and told him the good news about the visitation by Jesus in their daughter's dream. There was a lot of praising and rejoicing. Their miracle had finally come. A week later, this four-year-old little left this world to spend eternity with Jesus. What had gone wrong? Why did Jesus visit this little girl in her dream and lie to her? This dream visitation was so destructive that the little girl's teen brother turned away from God. What kind of God can give a family false hopes and then tear them apart with tragedy?

During my days as a street minister for the homeless on the streets of San Francisco, I had witnessed first hand some major healing miracles. Some of the craziest miracles were witnessing broken bones heal as you prayed over the injury. During one of my Miracles and Warfare meetings, we had witnessed a prayer team member's Lupus go into remission right after we prayed over her. We witnessed eczema disappear right in front of our eyes as we prayed for healing with another woman. I had seen my fair share of miracles to know that God heals and that we had the authority over sickness, death, and demons.

It was during this period in my ministry career that my brother-in-law and my very good friend was diagnosed with cancer. I had witnessed the power of God to know that healing was coming for him.

As the street ministry healing testimonies were growing, our pastor asked my wife and me to share at a Sunday evening service on the power of the Holy Spirit. We gave some of our wild street adventure healing testimonies. Somewhere midway of our speaking, a deacon from this church approached the pulpit. He was very accusational and proclaimed that he had never seen any healing miracle like we were talking about from our first-hand experience. As he walked down the aisle towards the pulpit, he pointed to church members in their pews of who he prayed for during their time of sickness. He said not once did he ever, ever, see a healing miracle like we were sharing about. I immediately sensed the woundedness of this individual. There was more to this man's story. He was speaking from his pain. Later, I found out the story behind this man. He had a pastor of his church pray for his son who had cancer. The son never received healing and went on to his eternal life with Jesus. The man was wounded and out of his pain took over the church intercessor team. Deep in his soul, he surmised he could do a better job than the church, the pastor, and even Jesus. This was not out of pride but out of his unhealthy pain for his traumatic loss of his son. This gentleman wore his pain on his sleeve for decades after his son tragically lost his battle.

During my own personal trial and warfare I was certain God would heal my brother-in-law. There was a small little contemplative prayer room at a Catholic church near my old employer. I would visit this little chapel on my lunch hour. I spent months on my lunch hour in this fortress of solitude. This chapel was my war room! I fondly remember spiritual battles where I knew these battles changed the outcomes of x-rays. I warred for clean x-rays. No cancer. God was listening! We were getting through this. Cancer in his brain was losing the fight. The battle was nearly completely won! My brother-in-law was now in a state of healing. Victory at last and a turn in the tide of battle. And then, suddenly, he just got really ill - and then he was gone. Just like that, he was no longer with us. My friend, my wife's brother, a son, a husband, a father to two young kids. Torn away from us, his family and friends.

You want to talk about a reality shattered! I had prayed for others with terminal illness and had seen some recover. I had the faith to press in for healing. This healing didn't come. During this time I was getting a lot of requests for ministry prayer for others. But I felt like I just got smacked in the head with some spiritual sledge hammer. I was stunned, and for some time I had no desire to pray for anybody. I wasn't angry at God for this tragic loss. I was just puzzled as to why there was no healing. I had seen so many miracles in prayer sessions and street ministry. It was a painful blow to my spiritual beliefs.

In my case, I stayed in dialogue with Jesus so I could get answers. Be careful of what you ask for because a lot of times Jesus will answer these. I was given a personal answer which I can't share here. But it put me at peace during my time of grief. And by the way, grief really sucks!

I presented three examples of how death comes to our doorstep and the different ways three individuals, one being myself, handled this. The most interesting of these examples is the little girl and her dream. Why would Jesus tell a little girl she would be healed only to take her? The dream was a lie, Jesus doesn't lie, but we all know who does. The enemy used the dream for collateral damage. How cruel is that? We must be careful when we receive dreams, and prophetic words that we feel are from beyond our physical reality. I don't care how prophetic a person is, or others believe them to be. They're still human. In counseling, I have had to work with clients on bad prophetic words spoken over them by respectable prophetic ministers. These messages must be tested. We must also be careful of what we hear in prayer. Many times our soul will jump the gun and say something to put us at ease while we're waiting for Jesus to reply. I would be skeptical of any message informing us that someone is going to be healed or especially not healed (demonic sources). Every miraculous healing I witnessed during my ministry God never gave me a heads up. God did what God wanted to do in the situation. I was usually just as surprised as the person receiving the healing.

I know first hand how bad it hurts when you lose a loved one. The worst part is having to deal with other church member's comments. Some of the lamest comments are like, "God gave you a test, and you passed." If you ever have a "what-the-saint-Franciscan" moment in church, it's during times of severe loss and the things we say to these people who are in agonizing pain. When a mother looses her child, I have no words to express the agony. I only know that God didn't take the child. The enemy seeks and destroys. Again, I can't find the words for a mother or a father who is going through this. My only advise is that during your darkest hour and pain talk to Jesus. Even if you are angry, God is big enough to be with you as you express your pain. You may even need to go somewhere where you need to shout.

From my own experience, I have found that God is very quiet during these times. Not because He isn't talking to you, but because He is grieving with you. In the book of John, chapter 11, we know that Jesus grieves. His good friend Lazarus died, and Jesus experienced this human process of losing a loved one. The Tri-une God grieves with us.

You must reboot your faith when you are stuck. Many times you know God is real, you're just very angry at Him. Perhaps the first step is to sit in a chair, still your mind, Psalm 46:10, and just feel His presence. It will be very quiet. Let him know you're pain. Hand it over to Him and let Him help you walk it out. This is the first step to moving forward. God may not speak to you in visions or internal words. If you're getting visions right out of the starting gate, reboot, it's your soul answering God's phone call. Patience is the key during this time. He may just hang out with you while you hurt. When you're in a place where you two can hang out, He may start to speak with you or He may start to bring your heart peace.

In other cases, you may still be very angry and in denial. God didn't help me, so He doesn't exist. If you're going deeper and deeper in your pain, it is time to try and speak to Him again. He'll accept the call. It's a simple call, "God are you there?" Again, chances are He won't answer you internally. But He may bring the stillness or quiet to you. Get a picture of Jesus and just try to imagine that picture of Jesus in your mind. It's baby steps.

By all means, wherever you are in this painful journey, there is hope. Seek friends who know how to connect with God. Speak with a pastor who knows how to connect with Jesus. Seek spiritual direction that will help you step out of being stuck in your pain. Jesus will walk you out. He did it with me. And he'll do it with you. God is a mystery, just let Him be God.

Jesus, I pray that you speak to your child during their brokeness and pain. Show them the way to find peace and resolution for their heavy loss. Walk with these hearts and souls so through this intense trial so that they may find joy and strength. In your mighty name, Jesus!

Hope this helps some hearts that need to open up to God.

God Bless
Rev Mike